Is 2018 Renault Megane RS still the benchmark for hot hatches?Previous Sport Meganes have always been the best hot hatches for keen drivers. This new third generation adds four-wheel steering, plus two extra doors.
[MUSIC] Welcome to a video in which we experience son, rain, mountain roads, country lanes and circuit use for F1 testing. From two variants of the same car in similar but not identical colors. Welcome to the launch of the new Megane RS. Let's start on the road in some sunshine in a volcano orange car with a cooking sport chassis option. The first thing says, it looks really, really good I think. It's somewhere between sort of the slightly almost bland possibly boring of a Golf GTI. Very subdued, very Sort of turn up anywhere, and the totally over the top, crazy Civic Type R. It's somewhere in the middle, and you really notice the wider front and rear tracks on this car, so it's 60 millimeters wider at the front and 45 millimeters wider at the rear and it just, it sits on th road like one of those TCR cars. The engine is fairly standard sort of. Fair I suppose. 1.8 meters, 276 brake horse powered, 288 pounds foot of torque. At 60 miles an hour though is actually very impressive 5.8 seconds. The engine sounds really good too. You've got the Pops and crackles that are obligatory these days. But they don't feel overdone. They don't feel too gratuitous, which is good. We've got two gearbox options, a manual, hoorah. We'll get to that in a bit. And then this EDC dual [UNKNOWN] box. It's not bad actually. It's really pretty good, but the pedals could do with being just a little bit longer. Despite the fact that you're not moving the wheel too much, It just needs to drop down a bit here. So I've never got quite why [UNKNOWN] seems to do this, Alcantara up here and leather down here. I know Alcantara doesn't last very long, but it would be nice if it was all around the wheel. The stitching too, just cuts at your thumbs a bit. Small [UNKNOWN] Are perhaps important on a driver's car. Perhaps the biggest change on this new [UNKNOWN] is the fact that, well, it's actually gonna be easier to live with. Just driving it around it's fairly obvious that in here it's very comfortable and nice. The seats are very nice and grip you very well. But, more importantly, the ride comes Comfort [INAUDIBLE] has chosen to give this car hydraulic bump stops which effectively are a damper within a damper so I think that means you can actually soften off the main dump slightly more because you know it's not gonna blow through that last lot and smash into the bump [INAUDIBLE] What does that mean? Well it means that it's just more comfortable everyday, the [INAUDIBLE] is always great drivers car wonderful if you are a driver perfectly livable with But the trouble is that passengers or family best friends move around quite a lot to go. Other tech that is new to this includes the multi reflector LED lighting system, which Renal claims is unique in the segment. Meanwhile inside there is also the multi-sense system that lets you choose the demeanor of the car from comfort through normal to sport and race. And the latest version of the R.S. monitor which displays a whole host of information gathered by sensors on the car. The perfo hubs that we've seen on previous generations also make a reappearance. The biggest news is that this is now a hot patch with four wheel steer. The idea, in case you've forgotten, is that in fast corners, the rear wheels steer in the same direction as the fronts, thereby effectively lengthening the rearways and increasing stability. But in tighter corners and more [UNKNOWN] roads, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to the fronts thereby shortening rearways and increasing steering response by up to 20%, Renault says. The big news, however, with this [UNKNOWN] sport car is the fact that, normally, the shortening of the wheel base tends to stop at around 50 kilometers an hour or 30 miles an hour. In this car, however, there are two stages. The sport, it will stop at 37 miles an hour. But put it into race, and that shortened the wheel base will continue all the way up to over 60 miles and hour. Sounds good to me. I think we should go and try it out in the mountains. [NOISE] So what does it feel like on a properly twisty bit of road? The road it's been designed for. Well, you really can feel that rear wheel steer in action. It feels like a very small car. Almost a bit sort of Mitsubishi Evo like in the way that it gets, Into corners. The engine, well, it's adequate. You never feel like you really want to rev it right out to the limit. You rely on all the talk in the mid-range. The gear box is good. The brakes are fantastic as well. It's extraordinary when you do get into corners. And the way it helps means that you have very little steering lock To blind corners. You never feel like you're even sort of getting the wheel through 90 degrees to be honest. The steering feel, that makes it perhaps a little bit difficult to judge the grip of the tires, but It's so precise that it doesn't matter too much. The one thing that you do miss though, the [UNKNOWN] gets into the corner so well you don't feel like you can get on the power really early. And that's when you feel like you just need better traction from the front. [SOUND] Luckily, as well as the sport chassis, there is also a Cup chassis. And that gets a torsion limited-slip diff. So I think we ought to go and try that out, really. And, not quite at the end of the rainbow, but somewhere just over it, there's a pit lane full of golden yellow Meganes. Equipped with this more focused cup chassis. Serendipitous, I think you'll agree. So welcome to something of a voyage of discovery, really. We're at Harris where I have been before, but only spectate. And we're in the Cup chassis version of the gap, which I've never driven before. So the first thing to say [INAUDIBLE] working at where on earth we go around here. [NOISE] Cuz the difference is with the gap chassis so we've got Ten percent stiffer suspension. Most importantly, you've got that [INAUDIBLE], which to be honest, in my mind, even before I've driven this car means that it feels like it's going to be the one to have because without it, it just felt traction limited on the exit of corners, really. And I'll rarely, through these ones, [SOUND] Just feels more precise. The only difference is, with this car, is we've got the optional manual gear box in here. And also, in fact, you get a manual hand brake in here, as well. Now we put everything into race, so we get that rear wheel steer helping up to 62 miles and hour. It's really nice and flowing [UNKNOWN]. Track, and the car feels like it flows as well. Of course, the one thing we can't really tell around here, because it is super smooth, I think it's been resurfaced even since I was here. Is how well this car rides, obviously with that stiffer suspension. Those hydraulic bump stops should mean that it's a comfier car. Even with the stiffer suspension. I forgot to mention before is that this car has bi-metallic brakes. So there's more aluminium in them, which makes them 1.8 kilos lighter per corner, which you'll see helps the unsprung weight back again. Should help that ride [UNKNOWN] more on the road. Probably more we see just not fading quite as much it feels really really agile it's about now there is a chicken fry. Our time on the road and track might have been relatively brief but it was certainly varied And a few things were very evident. For starters, the switch to five doors and it's indited increase in refinement will ensure that this third generation car is a bigger success for [UNKNOWN]. To my eyes, it looks tremendous, too, striking a perfect balance somewhere between anonymity and arrow regression. But what about those all important, hard core RS dynamics Well, I think the cup chassis is essential because a front-wheel drive hot hatch with 288 pounds [INAUDIBLE] torque has to have a limited slipdiff. Even with a cup chassis, I think this latest [UNKNOWN] has lost a little of it's predecessor's purity and raw interactivity. But that four-wheel steer gives it tremendous agility The very distinctive feel that I can't wait to sample again. Getting on on the same road is a Civic Type R and the Golf GTI should be very interesting indeed [BLANK_AUDIO]