There is a glorious sensation when you, as a driver, are so completely ‘dialled in’ to the road, its curves, bends and bumps, your focus becomes so intense the unnecessary periphery fades and you can seemingly slow down the world to see everything in a stop motion frame-by-frame like progression.
Hard on the throttle exiting a corner on my favourite piece of private road, the young monkey that stepped out to make the crossing was probably as surprised as I was – I could literally see the ‘whites’ of it eyes as it hesitated fractionally and I stomped on the Brembo brakes to bring the Mégane RS 300 Trophy to halt, mere millimetres from disaster.
As it sauntered off into the bush and probably breathing less hard than me, I did understand just why that car is simply the best fun I’ve had with my clothes on for a while.
In many ways the true test of a performance car is its ability to stop from high speeds and do so without wildly upsetting weight transfers making it go all squirly.
This, the Mégane does and it is sometimes hard to think this is a model with a 15-year history already, having first launched in 2005 and then been consistently improved and tweaked with each generation to this current version that was first exhibited at the 2018 Paris Motor Show.
On the exterior, the RS 300 Trophy boasts exclusive side panel Trophy insignia, a distinctive Sport front bumper with F1 blade, a specific Rear Diffuser, an intelligent central exhaust pipe and unique Jerez Triple Tone 19-inch wheels.
The interior presents signature Recaro seats, finished in Alcantara, with racy red top-stitching on the upholstery. Other RS specific design cues within the cockpit include the Alcantara steering wheel, the Zamac Aluminium gear lever knob, and handbrake gaiter.
No question – it absolutely looks the part it is intended to play.
Offered with the choice of a manual or dual-clutch EDC gearbox, and equipped with a more powerful version of the 1,8 litre turbo engine, the output is now 221 kW thanks to upgrades to the turbo where
technology coming directly from Formula 1, means the turbo-charger’s turbine is now mounted on a ceramic ball bearing for a shorter response time.
The nitty-gritty is the 1 798 cc engine produces its 221 kW at 6 000 r/min and the 420 Nm of torque is available on a spread from 2 400 r/min to 4 500 r/min getting it from zero to 100 km/h in 5,7 seconds and on to a top speed of 260 km/h.
I had the auto box version on test and was very grateful part of the standard kit is a choice between cruise control or speed limiter and the desire the car has to always be over the next horizon means it is oh, so easy to not even notice the speed creeping ever upwards.
In ‘Comfort’ mode with the digital dashboard showing a conventional speedometer, 170 km/h is positioned around the ‘10 past’ mark or about the same place most other cars would show 130 km/h and if you are used to just glancing down and just checking the angle of the needle those speed camera flashes are going to go off so fast you’ll think you were in a disco.
Yet, in this mode it can also be the family shopping trolley and its low speed driveability is in complete antithesis to its sporting heart. Also, even shod with Bridgestone Potenza S001 245/35 R19 tyres, the road feel at low speed is not as harsh as other low-profile kitted cars I have driven.
The New Mégane RS 300 Trophy benefits from all the innovations within the Mégane RS such as the 4CONTROL four-wheel steering system which enables a smaller turning radius, better stability, a quicker steering response, which is ideal for better track lap times.
The Cup chassis is standard and boasts stiffer suspension with a Torsen mechanical limited slip differential, allowing for better corning and traction. The front brakes are state of the art with bi-material discs for better endurance while the Brembo brake callipers guarantee optimum braking performance as I found out.
Four Hydraulic Compression Stops give the Mégane RS 300 Trophy uncompromised behaviour. This outstanding complete chassis package not only increases the performance of the vehicle but it allows for improved comfort.
The next level of fun is ‘Sport’ Mode where the dash changes to a rev counter, the gentle burble of the engine becomes more of an aggressive roar and the downshifts provide a proper ‘whap-whap’ note.
Although the option is there for the driver to manually shift gears via the paddles, a couple of runs on my test route showed in this mode, the gearbox was easily quick enough – and sometimes quicker – to make the paddles unneccessary.
The next step is ‘Race’ mode and this is one not to be taken lightly. This mode brings into play the RS Monitor that allows the recording of track times and keeping the driver informed of the engine performance.
Driven respectably my highway cruising consumption was around 6,8 l/1100 km and overall average (excluding performance testing) was 8,8 l/100 km.
Inside, creature comforts include an interactive Renault Multimedia System including an 8,7-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation system with SA maps, Bluetooth, USB and AUX input and it includes smart phone replication for Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
Other onboard equipment include Dual Zone Climate Control, cruise control with speed limiter, Renault hands-free card and automatic lights and wipers.
The RS Trophy model range comes standard with a 5-year/ 90 000 km Service Plan, plus a 5-year/150 000 km mechanical warranty and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty. Services take place at 10 000 km intervals.