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Life with TopGear’s Renault Megane RS Cup: update #3

First an apology. I know I promised that we’d have the tested performance stats of our Megane in last month’s review but even apocalyptic places like Gerotek take time off during the holidays – to the relief of shock absorbers, brakes and tyres. So we’ll get that to you next month. Meanwhile something new has happened in the realm of quick Renault Meganes, meaning our RS Cup 280 version is no longer the apogee of the range – well not internationally, at least. Does this upset us at TopGearSA? Of course, the thought of a newer faster model with 15kW and 10Nm over and above ours fills the team with adolescent car envy.

It also makes me wonder where Renault sees the RS Cup fitting in with the rest of the competition? No other hot hatch maker besides VW fields three mainstream derivatives of a performance model.  More importantly, who is going to buy it when a softer and harder version exists either side of it. Or is this the goldilocks of the range?

What I will tell you is that HR 04 SP is scrubbing the rear Bridgestone Potenzas hard. That’s no typo on a front-wheel drive car. Now I’ve had a little moan before about cars with rear-wheel steering in the past, citing their peculiar handling dynamics and urgency to dive severely and early for low-speed corners but this is the final straw. Accelerated tyre wear on the non-driven wheels. Some hard-hitting consumer advice right there.

More polarising is the standard keyless access. It works within a very small radius and automatically locks the car as you walk away. In this way it’s quite brilliant and the slim key certainly goes unnoticed in your pocket but the number of times I’ve gone to fetch something from the car in my garage only to realise that I don’t have the key with me… Trivial but you’ve been warned.

Still the excitement carries on unabated. I would even opine that few peers provide a higher engagement per kilometre. The others are too linear. Terrific cars but in danger of being bit vanilla. There aren’t many dull times with this. I’ll give you an example; there’s a downhill kink near where I live and because my day to day corner speed vacillates at the point where 4Control either steers in the opposite direction (below 60kph) or in the same direction (above 60kph) the chassis behaviour is all over the charts. Each person will interpret this differently; TopGearSA youngster Francisco Nwamba effusively claims that it’s ‘wild’ every time I see him while I’ve developed a sixth sense around it – a specific Megane RS Cup tutorial if you will. Nevertheless, a marvellously talented car in the wet.

While 2018 wasn’t a vintage year for the hot hatch (no Fords, no Opels, no VWs and no Mercs) it still fielded the Honda Civic Type R and this. Front wheel drive turbo charged cars, manual gearboxes, mechanical slip differentials and centre pipes. Quintessential hot hatch recipe then, so we really shouldn’t complain about our 2019 RS Cup.

SPECIFICATION

  • R549 900 OTR / R559 088 (as tested)
  • 1798cc, 4cyl turbo petrol, FWD, 205kW, 390Nm
  • 7.2l/100km, 163g/km CO2
  • 0-100km/h in 5.8secs, 255km/h
  • 1429kg
  • Tester’s notes: Stronger, stiffer Trophy makes debut but this car doesn’t want for added drama
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