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Driven: Renault Megane RS sprints in

Mid-2019 Renault Megane RS flagship to pair racier chassis with dual-clutch option

14 Sep 2018

RENAULT Australia has confirmed that the higher-performance RS300 Trophy upgrade of the all-new Megane RS 280 will be the only variant combining the sharper-handling Cup chassis with a dual-clutch transmission (dubbed EDC) when it arrives halfway through next year.
Priced from about $52,000 plus on-road costs, the RS300 Trophy EDC will also offer an extra 20Nm of torque compared with the 220kW/400Nm Trophy manual, providing the highest engine outputs in the 15-year history of the French hot-hatch series.
The regular 205kW/390Nm Megane RS280 range has just launched locally in three variants, kicking off with the Sport manual from $44,990 plus on-road costs, Sport Cup manual (with $1490 Cup chassis upgrade) from $46,480, and Sport EDC from $47,490 – noting of course that the latter is not available with Cup chassis. 
Renault Australia corporate communications manager Emily Fadayev said while the Cup chassis and manual gearbox combo was central to the Megane RS’ appeal for many buyers, the company would keep an open mind about introducing the standard engine and sportier suspension tune with the EDC if there was enough demand. 
“When the Trophy comes in the second half of 2019, it will be standard with Cup chassis and available in manual and auto,” she told GoAuto at the Megane RS280 launch in Queensland this week. “But there will be a Cup chassis with an auto in the middle of next year for Australia – the more extreme Trophy version.
“At this stage we only offer the Cup chassis pack with manual because the manual is the more purist-orientated car and the Cup chassis is the more purist-orientated version … but we’ll continue to review it and if there’s huge demand we’ll talk to the factory and look at options.”
Unveiled in July, the RS300 Trophy relies on the same 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels as the RS280 Sport range, which is itself a development of the Samsung-built unit as found in the upcoming Alpine A110 sportscar.
Those additional outputs are due to a ceramic ball bearing system added to the turbine to cut lag from the twin-scroll turbo and accommodate the increased exhaust back pressure caused by a new petrol particulate filter. Performance figures for the 220kW/420Nm Trophy EDC are yet to be released, but the 1419kg 220kW/400Nm six-speed manual needs 5.7 seconds to reach 100km/h and will top out at 260km/h.
Developing its 205kW at 6000pm and 390Nm between 2400-4800rpm, the Australian-spec RS280 Sport manual (1427kg) or six-speed dual-wet-clutch EDC (1450kg) are just 0.1s slower to 100km/h and 5km/h tardier. The former averages 7.4L/100km, the latter 7.5L, with the combined carbon dioxide emissions rating of 168g/km and 169g/km respectively. Maximum engine speed is 7000rpm. 
Other mechanical upgrades include a redesigned cylinder head incorporating a new cooling system next to the combustion chamber and a revised exhaust system with specifically reworked noise and backfire properties. 
Regardless of transmission, the driver has a choice of multiple drive modes, including comfort, normal, sport and race setting, that alter engine response, accelerator mapping, steering weight and ambient lighting aspects.
Additionally, the EDC in Sport and Race modes introduce a multi-change-down function in manual model, allowing several gears to be dropped by holding down the left-hand paddle, as well as launch control, bringing a pre-loaded clutch and turbo. 
The RS is a development of the Megane GT and sits on the same 2669mm wheelbase as the normal five-door hatchback. However, the front mudguards are 60mm wider to accommodate the 1615mm front tracks, the rear guards 45mm broader for the 1596mm rear track, and the ride height has been dropped 5mm to just 115mm.
Other visual changes include an F1-style blade in the front bumpers, a honeycomb finish for the grille, chequered flag-style LED foglights, front guard air extractors, a more aero-enhanced rear spoiler and diffuser offering better downforce, central exhaust outlets and a side-sill undertray. Inside, aluminium pedals, red stitching, bolstered front seats and unique central screen graphics and performance telemetry info also denote the RS upgrades.
Compared to the base RS Sport, Cup chassis cars add a front Torsen mechanical limited-slip differential, 25 per cent firmer shock absorbers, 30 per cent tighter springs and 10 per cent stiffer anti-roll bars, as well as Brembo bi-material brakes with red brake callipers and a different set of 19-inch black alloy wheels.
All Megane RS also feature a re-engineered version of the GT’s 4Control four-wheel steering, meaning that the rear wheels can turn in the same direction as the front wheels at up to one degree at higher speeds for greater stability and 2.7 degrees in the opposite way at lower speeds for sharper handling. 
In race mode, the latter’s threshold increases from 60km/h to 100km/h. The brakes also cop an upgrade, offering 355mm ventilated discs up front (representing a 15mm increase over the previous model) and 290mm Brembos in the rear, plus brake pedal setting pressures have been revised for more gradual and natural feel.
Suspension continues to be MacPherson struts with independent steering axis in the nose and a torsion beam out back, but the shockers gain hydraulic bump stops that are said to effectively act as a second shock absorber.
Finally, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, distance warning, blind spot warning, stability control, LED lighting, automatic parking, all-round sensors, a reversing camera, hill-start assist and six airbags are all standard, as are an 8.7-inch touchscreen with RS Monitor telemetry, leather steering wheel and shift gaiter, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control and heated folding electric door mirrors.
While Renault declined to talk sales numbers, it did reveal that Australia remains number three for Megane RS volume globally, sitting behind France and Germany but ahead of Japan and the UK.
Testing included ambient temperatures varying from minus-30 degrees to 40 degrees Celsius. All versions are manufactured in Palencia, Spain.
All cars are covered by a 12 month/20,000km warranty, with capped price servicing at $399 for the first three services.

2018 Renault Megane RS pricing*

Sport $44,990
Sport Cup $46,480
Sport (a) $47,490

*Excludes on-road costs

Model release date: 1 September 2018

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