The Goodwood Test: 2019 Renault Megane R.S. 300 Trophy
Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.
Renault has built hot hatches for several decades (the Renault 5 Turbo and Clio Williams are two superb examples), but if you want to follow the Megane name alone then the R.S. 300 Trophy’s roots can be traced to the 2004 Megane RS. With 222bhp it was a solid rival to the likes of the Ford Focus ST and Honda Civic Type R – in many ways it offered a raw driving experience that others couldn’t keep pace with. The hot Meganes from 2010 onwards, however, were where Renault’s chassis engineers really proved their worth. While the interiors of the early Megane 250 all the way to the final 275 Trophy-R were never quite as polished as those of Renault’s hot hatch rivals, they drove beautifully. Their reputation is why Renault’s current Megane R.S. has had such big boots to fill.
Our R.S. 300 Trophy was very well specced, but you’d expect a decent equipment selection when you’re spending £31,835 on a hot hatchback, or £36,085 with our test car. As standard you get a phone-mirroring 7-inch touchscreen, a DAB radio, rear parking sensors, heated wing mirrors, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, hill-start assist, a tyre pressure warning system and an Alcantara steering wheel. Add to that LED headlights and daytime running lights, ‘Jerez’ triple-tone 19-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows and Trophy decals.
Our car had the lovely optional £1,500 Recaro seats (why wouldn’t you get the Recaro seats in a hot hatch?), a BOSE sound system (£800), a rear parking camera and front parking sensors (£400), the ‘visio system’ (lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and automatic high/low beam, all for £250) and the very, very bright £1,300 metallic paint. It’s the paint and the seats we’d really recommend you pay the extra for.
The Trophy has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 296bhp at 6,000rpm and 400 (296lb ft) of torque at 3,200rpm. Add to that four-wheel-steering, five drive modes, bigger brakes and serious tyres, this has the potential to be one very serious little car. Is it? In a word, yes. 0-62mph takes 5.7 seconds and the top speed is 162mph. There are faster, more powerful hot hatchbacks out there, but with Renault it’s all about how a car drives…
The experience is less raw than that of a Honda Civic Type R but, even so, it is very good fun. It feels responsive, willing and predictable, the only dynamic downsides being a notchy six-speed manual gearbox and a very high clutch that’s at odds with the other pedals. Then again, we should be grateful that there’s a manual gearbox at all.
It isn’t the most focussed or dynamic Megane there’s ever been, as with every generation those are still to come, but it’s fully deserving of the RS badge and more than good enough to stand proudly alongside its ancestors.