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How much? £28,245
On sale in the UK: September 2013
Engine: 1998cc 16v four-cylinder turbo, 261bhp @ 5500rpm, 266lb ft @ 3000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 6.0sec 0-62mph, 158mph, 37.7mpg, 174g/km
How heavy / made of? 1379kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4299/1848/1435mm
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 5 out of 55

Handling

Rated 5 out of 55

Performance

Rated 4 out of 54

Usability

Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 5 out of 55

Readers' rating

Rated 2.5 out of 52.5

Renaultsport Megane Red Bull Racing RB8 (2013) CAR review

By Ben Barry

First Drives

22 July 2013 07:00

Remember the Clio Williams? Then you’ll probably remember the Williams 2. And 3. Owners of the first, supposedly one-off run of Clio Williams certainly do. Things have moved on since those days: Renault engines are no longer powering Williams F1 cars to victory – but they are taking Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull to three world championships and counting. And, yes, Renault has learned from its Clio Williams faux pas: just 30 Renaultsport Megane Red Bull Racing RB8s will come to the UK, and there’ll be no more, no matter how hard you plead.

Is the Megane Red Bull Racing RB8 really as special as a Clio Williams?

Well, the gulf between the Clio 16v and the Williams was certainly larger, but what you do get with the new Red Bull Megane is a bunch of optional equipment all bundled together in one very worthwhile package – this is not your typical sunroof and stickers job.

So, you get a pair of Recaro seats (normally a £1300 option), the stiffer, harder Cup chassis, red brake calipers and limited-slip diff (£1300), plus 19-inch Steev (you pronounce it like Papa Lazarou says ‘Dave’) alloys shod with the same Bridgestone Potenza tyres (£1000) that gripped and slipped their way around the ’Ring to an 8min 7sec lap – a front-wheel-drive record.

You also get a new version of the Renaultsport Monitor (£900), which can record your laptimes and show entertainingly useless info such as how much G-force you’re enduring. Finally there’s a unique Twilight Blue paintjob (metallic paint costs £495) and some Red Bull stickers – it could have looked gaudy, actually looks classy.

How does it drive?

We’ve always loved the Renaultsport Megane, and the Red Bull package just adds all the bits that any keen driver would want anyway. The seats are set low and – despite their racecar looks – manage to be both incredibly supportive and highly comfortable. The Cup chassis has always shown the Megane RS in its best light, making it feel exceptionally agile and responsive and eager to change direction, and it’s business as usual with the RB8. The trade-off is the pretty firm ride quality, but it’s a trade-off most people in this market will find worthwhile.

Tap into that chassis’s abilities and you’ll be relieved to find that the four-pot Brembos are endlessly strong with excellent pedal feel, the steering is meaty and quick and accurate, the gearshifts punchy and the front-end bite is exceptional thanks to the combination of those sticky tyres and limited-slip diff.

Put the stability control software in its halfway house setting or turn it off altogether and power rises from 247bhp to 261bhp. Do that and you’ll have plenty of punch and still feel like the front grip is far from being overwhelmed – unlike its rowdy rival, the Focus ST. Downsides? A Scirocco R sounds far better. Ummm… that’s it.

Verdict

Renault asks £25,545 for the Megane RS Cup, but if you added all of the options – which are all incredibly desirable – found on the Red Bull Megane, you’d be looking at over £29k. The Red Bull is yours for £28,245. What’s not to like? It’s super-exclusive, looks classy and features all the options a trackday fan could ever ask for. And, as ever, it remains mind-blowingly great to drive. Are you sure you don’t want to make some more, Renault?

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Average rating: Rated 2.5 out of 52.5 (10 votes)

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Renaultsport Megane Red Bull Racing RB8 (2013) CAR review

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antonyr

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antonyr says

RE: Renaultsport Megane Red Bull Racing RB8 (2013) CAR review

 chriswar1978, at least Renault   can make a car handle brilliantly  where as VW  always seem to be well 8/10 th,s there. must be their (Renaults ) F1 involvment  hey?

23 July 2013 12:54

 

chrisward1978

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chrisward1978 says

RE: Renaultsport Megane Red Bull Racing RB8 (2013) CAR review

@antonyr True enough. I guess I never got over the disappointment of Renault chickening out from further developing the fat-arse Megane.

23 July 2013 09:26

 

antonyr

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antonyr says

RE: Renaultsport Megane Red Bull Racing RB8 (2013) CAR review

 chrisward1978 Funny thing personal taste, I on the other hand seem to like the Megane, especially in two door form.  I find the Scirocco a bit to contrived with that sort of sat on look as though ther roof is 30 cm to low, but there you go At least the Megane is a better handling car and so much more a drivers car. I also find  Megane,s interior a better eviriroment to sit in which I have rather than the oh so boring golf look alike of Scirocco.But there you different tastes hey .

22 July 2013 19:54

 

ofir

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ofir says

RE: Renaultsport Megane Red Bull Racing RB8 (2013) CAR review

-100 KG +40 bhp. It cant be that hard can it?

22 July 2013 19:47

 

chrisward1978

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chrisward1978 says

RE: Renaultsport Megane Red Bull Racing RB8 (2013) CAR review

I know it was never the greatest looker, but suddenly the Renault Megane looks so old. The replacement cannot come soon enough.

22 July 2013 10:52

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