Driven: Renault Megane RS250 Cup

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Won

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Call it tough luck but I’d been waiting for a very long time to get my hands on the RS250, only to get the yellow fellow on the one weekend where the colour yellow was a little taboo. I didn’t let this faze me of course, because believe it or not – I’ve been waiting for damn near two years to drive this hot, hot, hot-hatch. A two year wait is a long time and, despite being a media/test unit abused by many, you could say that this car fared pretty well on both the inside and out.

Let’s move on to the numbers that I’m sure many should already be familiar with. A 2.0L four-pot turbo mill lies under the bonnet, mated to a 6-speed manual tranny capable of producing 250PS and 340Nm, all transferred to the rubbers up front. In Malaysia, the RS250 is priced between the VW Mk6 Golf GTI and 2.0L Scirocco; just going by paper statistics, it is clear that the Renault out-muscles the VWs by a fair bit - more power, more torque, quickest from zerotohundred by a few tenths of a second. I’ve always been a fan of VWs and was keen to find out how the RS250 would compare.



I fired up the engine via start button and listened as it settled to a raspy idle. As I blipped the throttle, it was clear that the engine definitely lacked aural refinement. That slightly gnarly growl from the tuned exhaust, however, was clear indication of the engine’s oomph. The last manual car I drove left me with a twitchy left thigh, so it was a relief to find out that the clutch in the RS250 was much lighter to manage. Gear changes were short and slick, although I admittedly had the occasional snag from second to third (the problem is likely just me).



Throttle response is pretty manic for a four-pot turbo. Drop the clutch and slam the accelerator and you will be thrown deep into the supportive seats. Just going by that sensation coupled with input from my trusty butt-dyno, it seemed silly to question the claimed performance numbers. It was incredible, the RS250 seems to have been gifted with incredible overtaking ability – there is barely any turbo lag, and oodles of mid range grunt. The RS250 runs a little out of breath past 220km/h and while I wasn’t able to hit the claimed 250km/h, it is safe to say I got pretty close.

Which brings me to the handling characteristics of the RS250; anyone who has spent their time reading this article will likely already know that this is more a track-focused road-going car. ‘Cup’ chassis comes as standard and this means stiffer, lower springs, thicker anti-roll bars, specific dampers, wider tyres mechanical LSD on the front wheels, along with aluminum bits to reduce unsprung weight. The result from all this? Awesome handling. Steering is well weighted and super accurate while plenty of feedback is delivered to the palms of your hands, gifting the driver with an extra shot of bravery.



Massive four-pot Brembos on 340mm discs up front help to scrub off big speeds when required. Despite my constant punishing (I attempted a number of 0-100-0 runs), the car showed no signs of fade. In fact, I’d go as far to say that unless you were doing more Sepang runs than shopping runs, you’d be hard pressed to exhaust the limits of the Brembos. Definitely a little overkill for day-to-day driving but hey, no complaints there.



Attack a series of corners and you will be inspired by how composed the RS250 is. The LSD does a fantastic job allowing the driver to power out mid-corner. On more than one occasion, it felt as though the car was cornering on rails with a pre-determined path; that’s just how damn good it was! To put it simply; when you drive a car at its limit, there is a threshold before you start lacking the man-matter between your legs. In the RS250 on our testing grounds, this threshold was pegged around 210km/h. As a general comparison, the previous stick shift I drove on this road was the Nissan 370Z and I only managed 190km/h. I'm not saying that the 370Z is slower because it most certainly isn't; it is simply the sublime handling in the RS250 that helped to boost my confidence.



Stylistically, it would be difficult to find faults with the RS250. In my opinion, the French never really make any good looking cars, but the Megane is definitely an exception. The car looks like it is ready to race; menacing, low stance, gorgeous 19-inch wheels, flared arches, and all. I find a few cars to have badly designed central mounted exhausts but on the Megane, looks pretty good. If I had a favourite angle, it would have to be the rear three-quarter – from here, you really notice the gorgeous curves on those sexy hips.





The interior of the car however, sports a number of French quirks. The speedometer for example isn’t conventional, moving in odd-numbered increments (10, 30, 50, etc). And, for whatever reason, the whole meter cluster is angled slightly upwards, away from the driver. Most of the buttons are also placed behind the steering wheel making it a lot less intuitive to figure out. Both seats up front need to be adjusted manually and, believe it or not, it took me a whole day to find my perfect driving position. You’ll also need to figure out which footwear to use because I found my shoes occasionally getting stuck in the footwell. For RM230k, I’d also expect a larger screen on the Renault Sport Monitor.

Don’t get me wrong, there are (thankfully) a few saving graces. Yellow accents are splashed across the cabin in a big way – stitching, seatbelts, rev counter, etc and helps to really brighten the interior. Trim and build quality is also pretty good making you aware that this is a more premium car. The Recaro seats up front also provide plenty of support and while most men will love them, women will likely not. Digressing a little, I discovered the best way to climb out from the car was to rest my arse on a particular corner of the seats before hopping out. It would seem as though everyone else settled for that technique because there was an obvious tear in our test car.



At the end of the day, you do get a lot of bang for your ringgit. The Megane looks fantastic plus lots of standard kit that helps to make up for the slightly lacking interior – bi-xenons, four airbags, keyless entry, cruise control, dual climate control, automatic lights/wiper, five-star Euro NCAP rating, etc. It will never be the most practical car, sure – but you can take comfort in knowing that, on the few occasions where you will need to ferry four passengers, or need to fill up the boot (decent at 344 litres), or perhaps find yourself in the situation where mounting a baby-seat is necessary, that the RS250 is perfectly capable. For me, ride was a little harsh especially for a daily driver, but that is strictly a personal preference. If you’re the a frequent visitor of Sepang, keen on experiencing the best handling hot-hatch around (in other words, you’re an enthusiast driver), then look no further than the Megane RS250; this is the car that will do the job (and then some!).

Renault Megane RS250 Cup - YouTube





























To view/download all the pictures of the Megane RS250 in hi-res, click here.

Renault Megane RS250 Cup
Zerotohundred: 6.1secs
Top Speed: 240km/h (tested)
Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo
Power: 250PS / 5,500 rpm
Torque: 340Nm / 3,000 rpm
Weight: 1,505kg (kerb weight)
Fuel Economy: N/A
Wheels: N/A
Tyres: 235/40 R18
Price: RM229,800 (OTR excluding road tax and insurance)
 

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Supra_Fanatics

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Supra_Fanatics

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Would choose this over GT-86...:love:
 

Won

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Won

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Do most folks here prefer performance over comfort? Maybe I really am getting a bit old!
 

6UE5t

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6UE5t

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Prefer the more conventional look of the Golf but of course this thing will blow away the Golf anytime.
 

xbalance2002

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xbalance2002

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drove it once in friend car .... the suspension dont feel stiff at all just like our standard 2.0 civic for normal road....try twice on the taxi ride on sepang dry track car respond very well in corner understeer and oversteer is very easy to control.... chassis is well tune in corners.... last week was there again this time was wet track... this time both car was fitted with Federal RsR 595 tire.... abit shock it still able to attack corner .... if compare to civic 2.0 type R i think this megane suspension abit soft compare to type R ....
 

Won

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Between the Mk6 Golf GTI, Scirocco 2.0 and the RS250, there is no question about which one is more fun - it is hands down the RS250. But the least comfortable is also the RS250.

Will be getting a Golf R soon, so it might be interesting to compare to see which one packs more fun factor.
 

Izso

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Izso

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Do most folks here prefer performance over comfort? Maybe I really am getting a bit old!
Nolah.. the older you get the more comfort you want. I agree with you on this!

And I agree with Temujin : FWD < RWD!

:biggrin:
 

Won

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@Iszo, I've not driven enough cars to make a factual comparison but the two most recent ones were the 370Z and the RS250. Of course, both are two very different... but what I can say is that I felt more confident in the RS250 than I did the 370Z.

@moneyman, collecting it later today. Watch for some quick pics on the ZTH Facebook! Oh, there'll be a very exciting car on Monday so watch out for that as well ;)
 

psw

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psw

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Test drove the Megane once. The sales guy was kind enough to take me out for a long drive to get a good feel of the car. Having owned a Subaru STi v9 previously and now a Golf GTi mk6, IMHO this car is a little over-rated. My gripes about the car are as follows:

1. Dislike the feel of the gear change. That really loose feeling, somewhat like a gear shift of a truck/lorry. Can't exactly tell which gear I'm in as it doesn't click or slot in nicely like the gear change in the STi for instance.

2. The clutch is a bit difficult to modulate since its light and the biting point is quite high. Stalled the car numerous times when launching from standstill. Not a flaw but something that needs getting used to and only time can make right.

3. Handling is sharp, make no bones about it but the steering lacks feel. Similar to the STi, it feels light and unnerving when negotiating sharp bends. Prefer something more weighted like in the Cooper S or GTi.

4. The engine revs like a NA, no discernible turbo kick or boost like one would feel in a GTi or STi after hitting a certain rpm. Feels more linear and civilized. Needs rev to get it going fast but engine sounds flat and uninspiring, like a washing machine. Don’t be deceived by the claimed 6.1 seconds century sprint. The fastest I could clock was 6.7 seconds which is apparently the same as my mk6 GTi (tried and tested using launch control), only much more effort required. As far as shifting skills are concern, I’m no Tsuchiya but I can pull a decent 5.8 seconds with my STi.

Won, please confirm my observation above..

As a daily driver and occasional track days, I will have no qualms settling for a GTi. With upgrades like a Stage 1 tune and big brake kit for the front, it’s good enough to give the Megane a run for the money and will still cost slightly less.
 

Won

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Thanks for comparing notes, psw. My feedback as per your points:

1. Agreed; slick changes but there were occasions when I forgot which gear I was in. I suspect that this problem was myself as I don't drive stick very often, so it is interesting that you mentioned this issue. Unfortunately, never driven an STi before so difficult for me to compare.

2. Did not face this problem; I never stalled the car when I had it. In comparison, the 370Z was a little more problematic for me. But like you said, this is something that can be resolved once an individual gets used to the biting point.

3. In terms of steering feel, you are correct when comparing against the Mk6 Golf GTI. Yes it is lighter, but sufficiently communicative in my opinion; I was always aware how much available grip I had when negotiating corners. I've just driven a Mk6 Golf R (review up soon) and the steering feel is definitely meatier.

4. Yes, engine is uninspiring. In truth, I feel the same way about the GTI as well as the R. That said, between the Golfs and the Megane, I will admit that the Megane is the most engaging. I also only managed sub 6 seconds zerotohundred times (although I'm admittedly 'slower' when driving stick).

Just a small insight to my thoughts having driven the Golf GTI, Megane RS250 and the Golf R: the best balanced hot-hatch (price/specs/functionality) in my opinion is the GTI.
 

adamshahm

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adamshahm

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what type of recaro seats that installed in renault megane? really love it...:rolleyes: