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Life with TopGear’s Renault Megane RS Cup: Update #5

I must admit, I wasn’t fizzing with excitement to drive TGSA’s Megane R.S. from kilometre 5000 into what will soon grow beyond the first half dozen clicks. This is round two with the 280 Cup for me, and erstwhile feelings were still hanging loosely in the air.

I had been left underwhelmed in some ways but also beguiled by its smouldering appearance – as if it’s been designed using pieces from Alfa Romeo’s pencil case. Then I noticed Andrew’s separation anxiety etched across his face as I reversed out his driveway. He was bleak. Why? And would I experience the same sense of emptiness come the end of my tenure?

I didn’t figure this car out the first time so a change of scenery was decided upon. I packed an overnight bag and entered the navigation for Pilgrim’s Rest in my phone – because that’s what all millennials do.

I’ve come to learn that the new Megane RS is all about personal setup. The car has different driving modes, accessible through R.S. Drive. Comfort dials back the stiffness but then the engine tends to suffer from lag as the throttle response is sanitised for casual driving.  In Race, the car is way too firm and the piped exhaust note sounds like you’re riding shotgun with a Wooky from Star Wars – such a pity as the previous Megane sounded lovely. Perso mode on the other hand, provides me with the option to have the exhaust sound sportier on the outside, while muting the digitised cabin sound. I set the throttle response to its sharpest but not so for the ride.

I could now enjoy an 800km roundtrip with ease; Apple CarPlay plugged in and my pelvis nestled in the deep fab seats. HR 04 SP handled the distance well, dismissing coal trucks while dribbling between potholes.

Thankfully Mpumalanga has some of the best driving roads in the country and mountain passes like Kaapsehoop felt like they were made for the Megane. The trick lies in the four-wheel steering, which left me dumbfounded by how easy it was to get in and out of corners at speed. Like wireless connectivity for corners.

Since this is the Cup variant with a manual gearbox, pedal placement is perfect to rev match into corners and the chirpy turbo made for slightly wide exits. But in slow corners the same 4control system we praised a second ago suddenly feels like the snappy contrast between downforce… and then lift.

Overall, I understand what Renault tried to achieve with this car, I’m just not sure if they pulled it off properly. Is it the RS we wanted? I personally wish Renault didn’t use the GTI as its benchmark but instead went more Civic Type R with the formula.

The new Megane RS is a sparky character with some pixie dust for good measure. Enough to cause separation anxiety when it leaves for a new home within TGSA? Now that I’ve personalised it… FRANCISCO NWAMBA

SPECIFICATION

  • 1798cc, 4cyl turbo petrol, FWD, 205kW, 390Nm
  • 7.2l/100km, 163g/km CO2
  • 0-100kph in 5.8secs, 255kph
  • 1429kg
  • Tester’s note: A little rough diamond. Flair and flaw.
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