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2019 Renault Megane RS test drive - Hampton Downs NZ

 

Recently Auto Trader NZ was invited to the launch of the brand new Renault Megane RS Hot Hatch - where else but at Hampton Downs racetrack.

Renault’s RS division has an awesome track record of releases, widely hailed as the gold standard when it comes to the ratio of fun-per-dollar - even in the extremely competent and competitive hot-hatch category. So, this new model has a lot to live up to.

Visually, it’s a handsome thing with bulgey masculine wheel arches, F1-inspired front-end design and big 19” Diamond-effect alloys. This time we get 4 doors as opposed to 2 and while some purists were concerned about this potentially diluting the look, the new RS looks fantastic and now comes with added practicality!  

2019 Renault Megane RS

We were given two variations of test vehicles including the new 6 speed dual clutch automatic and the classic 6 speed manual (this one also featured the optional track-pack including Cup chassis with hydraulic compression stops, Torsen LSD and a custom suspension setup) - with both cars featuring Renaults’ latest 1.8 L turbo four.

One of the first tests we performed was a high speed acceleration and stop test - showcasing the fantastic power delivery and cheeky crackles from the exhaust while moving through the gears. Another highlight was the excellent brake and tyre combo, illustrated by the fact that we underestimated their ability and stopped prematurely short of the target cones through each run.

 2019 Renault Megane RS

Next up was the cone slalom.

What surprised here was that despite the high power and the fact it is delivered through the front wheels, there was no sign of torque steer or understeer - even during hard acceleration out of corners. How Renault has overcome these issues involves a combination of a trick new differential, clever computers managing the traction control/stability settings and of course, the newly developed 4CONTROL 4 wheel steering. Even more impressive, is that none of these factors felt like they sanitised the experience but if anything added to the fun by inspiring confidence.

Finally, we got to drive full laps and really get to know the car.  

What was the most surprising takeaway from the day driving the new RS? Well, for a car that has built its reputation on being a track-focused weapon, Renault has done a fantastic job of maintaining it’s core values while also allowing the driver have a comfortable and civilised experience if desired. High quality materials and noise reduction, along with every expected driver-aid create this interesting split-personality.

Any must have extras?

The Alcantara seats are truly beautiful - definitely give them a tick!

Who should consider the Renault Megane RS?

 Anyone who is in the market for a stylish hatch capable of carrying 5 adults to the racetrack, blasting around for a few laps and then driving home in comfort.

 


Auto Trader New Zealand