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By Mark Jones

Road Test Editor

Is this the ultimate GTI killer?

The 0 to 100 km/h time Volkswagen’s latest hot hatch is up against is 5.9 sec.

Renault’s high performance Meganes have always been a somewhat polarising option when it comes to hot hatches. Those loyal Megane enthusiasts that are looking for exclusivity and more than just straight-line speed, are not interested in any criticism levelled at their choice. And the Golf GTI brigade, well they simply can’t see past the badge from Wolfsburg.

Renault no longer offers the Megane RS 280 locally and there will only be seven of these extremely exclusive RS 300 Trophy models up for grabs in South Africa. Our test car was one them, and the R774 900, six-speed manual model at that.

Running a new ceramic ball bearing turbo, the Trophy punches out 221 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque and that is a lot of energy going down to the front wheels. Thanks to the torque steer and constant hunt for traction, the Trophy feels as lively as all hell. But let’s cut to the chase so to speak.

The straight-line chase. I haven’t got my hands on Golf’s TCR yet, so the closest rival that I have data for is the older 195 kW Clubsport, and then of course I have just recently run Hyundai’s 202 kW i30 N. I can report that the 300 Trophy makes easy work of the i30 N and is fractionally slower than the fast shifting double clutch Clubsport. I came within two tenths of the claimed 0 to 100 km/h time of 5.7 sec with a spot on 5.90 sec run (i30 N – 6.52 seconds/Clubsport – 5.78 seconds). Volkswagen claims the TCR will reach 100 km/h from a standstill in 5.6 sec.

At the longer 1 km mark the 300 Trophy is doing a decent 211 km/h, with the i30 N a distant 200 km/h and the Clubsport out front with 215 km/h. All these cars run around 250 km/h on top in standard trim, with the TCR said to reach 264 km/h. But this is not why you would buy a 300 Trophy, you would buy one because you want to carve up the opposition at track days. This is what this Megane is all about. The Clubsport is the most docile, the i30 N the easiest to hustle around and the 300 Trophy the quickest and most fun of the lot in this environment.

The Cup chassis that comes as standard, is stiffer, so bumpy tar is not your friend, while the Torsen mechanical limited slip differential up front allows for a huge amount of front end grip, and the 4Control four-wheel steering allows you to rotate the car easily to line it up for the apex and improved lap times.

This 4Control system that allows the rear wheels to turn in a few degrees was something I didn’t like when I drove the Megane RS overseas. It was way too aggressive and made the car feel completely unstable at the rear, and almost killed me and driving partner. True story. And when he got his turn to drive, he returned the favour. We came away from that drive more shaken than stirred.

But I did not experience this on the 300 Trophy, I can only think they have electronically dialled this system back a bit to make the car more stable but still very quick. Going the other way, the Brembo brakes, and 19-inch triple tone alloy wheels wrapped in wide 245/35 Bridgestone Potenza S001 rubber ensures stopping is never an issue.

Of course, what would a hot hatch be today without the now obligatory “pops and bangs” from the exhaust? And for this Renault has included a valve system that is actuated automatically depending on the driving mode selected via the Multi-Sense mode. I must be honest, I loved it, it simply sounded fast and offered a fair warning to the competition that you were driving a special Megane.

Sadly, Renault’s Megane RS cars have never found as many homes as they should have in our country. Would I have one? Yes, I loved it, but only if I wasn’t using my own money to buy it. Backing up their offer, the RS 300 Trophy comes with a five-year/90 000 km service plan and a proper five-year/150 000 km warranty.


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