Renault Megane RS 300 Trophy road trip: to the Lakes!

Published: 05 December 2019

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Month 3 of our Renaultsport Megane RS 300 Trophy: to the Lake District!

An update on a recent family expedition to the Lake District. Our bright yellow hot hatch might be designed for acing corners and cross-country blasts, but it can do the long-distance commuter role too.

1) Try that in a Nomad

Packing the boot in our Renaultsport Megane

Three-hour trek to the Lake District from the East Midlands to abandon kids with grandparents near Kendal. Not the smoothest, quietest, roomiest car for a long family trip, but you can cram plenty in the boot.

2) Get off my road

We hit traffic near Windermere. Busy!

Easy run up the A591. Loving the great throttle response, but the meaty-sounding exhaust gets a bit embarrassing during casual overtakes. Hit traffic at Windermere on sunny Friday evening. Planning an early drive tomorrow that should give me the roads to myself.

3) Misty mountain hop

Renaultsport Megane RS 300 Trophy in the Lake District

Out early to Kirkstone Pass, a great drive over the A592 in the shadow of Helvellyn, if you get to it before traffic. Megane’s rich performance, steadfast front end and mighty brakes make light work of narrow uphill climb. Murk suddenly descends, spoils things.

4) All aboard

Weather improves on downhill section towards Patterdale. Robust test for Brembo brakes – they smell but never fade. We loop back down the west side of Lake Windermere. Pretty but a bit processional. Shortcut to eastern shore near Bowness on ferry.

5) Respect is due

Visiting the Lakeland Motor Museum in our Megane RS

Drop in on Lakeland Motor Museum for lunch and to visit the Donald Campbell exhibition. He died trying to beat his own water-speed record on nearby Coniston in 1967. Well worth a look.

6) Quids in

Fuel economy in our Renaultsport Megane RS 300 Trophy

A refill at Milnthorpe – the lower speeds of tighter B-roads and the long motorway leg have improved average mpg a chunk this month. All brimmed, we’re heading south for a slightly choppy, noisy journey down the M6. Wait… where are those children?

By Ben Barry

Logbook: Renault Megane RS 300 Trophy

Price £31,835 (£36,085 as tested) 
Performance 1798cc turbocharged four-cylinder, 296bhp, 5.7sec 0-62mph, 162mph 
Efficiency 34.4mpg (official), 31.7mpg (tested), 
183g/km CO2
Energy cost 18.7p per mile
Miles this month 1406
Total miles 6023 


Month 2 living with a Megane RS 300 Trophy: rear-steer? Fine by us...

Renaultsport Megane RS 300 Trophy long-term test

I love driving harder, faster versions of hard, fast cars on press launches. We'll razz something like this Megane RS Trophy around a racetrack, maybe take in a great European road, then toss back the keys. Brilliant! But perhaps not hugely comparable to what an owner might experience. Which is where these long-terms tests step in.

I've covered over 1000 miles in the Megane Trophy, doing two-hour airport trips, favourite B-roads and even the school run. No surprise that the hardcore Trophy is a gnarlier proposition than a Golf GTI, but I'm happy to say it balances true excitement with a tolerable – if never truly easy – temperament when driven more gently.

Much of this is down to the suspension set-up. All Trophy models come with the firmer Cup chassis that's optional on a standard RS, so it can feel quite choppy – sometimes without any real benefit – on the road and there's rowdy tyre noise, too. But I love how tightly bodyroll is gathered up, how that translates to such precise steering response, and how nailed down the front feels.

The rear end, by comparison, is fantastically extrovert, partly thanks to 4 Control rear-wheel steering that's more pronounced in the Megane than any similar system I've encountered. At first it seemed too hyper, almost as if I was turning into corners too early, but now I've acclimatised I enjoy how seamlessly it blends with the Megane's natural tendency to lift-off oversteer, like it's one fluid movement that's as natural as turning the steering wheel to point the front wheels. And because it does this at modest speeds – okay, sometimes comically low speeds – the rear end never feels like it's suddenly letting go. It's progressive and unintimidating.

It's not all crazy tail-wagging, though, and it's pretty incredible just how much urge the Trophy can keep piling on through a constant corner when you keep it tidy, say accelerating through a larger roundabout.

All this, and ride quality that's sufficiently passenger-friendly to provoke precisely no complaints from my kids on a tricky, if gently taken, cross-country trip from the Midlands to Manchester. Suits me.

By Ben Barry

Logbook: Renault Megane RS 300 Trophy

Price £31,835 (£36,085 as tested) 
Performance 1798cc turbocharged four-cylinder, 296bhp, 5.7sec 0-62mph, 162mph 
Efficiency 34.4mpg (official), 27mpg (tested), 183g/km CO2 
Energy cost 21.6 per mile 
Miles this month 311
Total miles 3678

Best hot hatches on sale


Month 1 of our long-term test: introduction to our Renault Megane RS Trophy daily driver

Renault Megane RS Trophy long-term test

If you want your hot hatch to do everything, you buy a Volkswagen Golf GTI. If you want it to be a great hot hatch – pin-sharp handling, punchy acceleration, blatty exhaust – you buy a Renault Sport Megane. That might be an over-simplification given there’s serious opposition from Hyundai and Honda to muddy the waters these days, but Renault Sport has nailed the putting-the-smile-on-your-face aspect of hot-hatch ownership for over a decade.

Now we have six months with the new Megane RS Trophy, enough to take us through the over-eager honeymoon period and into the reality of mpg, reliability, practicality… Well, okay, I won’t go on too much on the humdrum stuff – this is a Trophy, after all, so its raison d’etre is driving thrills, not supermarket runs. And I promise, no trips to the tip. But an extended test does allow us to paint a fuller picture of life with a car we’ve only ever experienced fleetingly before. I’m looking forward to it immensely.

CAR rated the third-generation Megane RS highly when we tried it on the press launch last year. Save for big departures in the shape of a five-door-only bodyshell and rear-wheel steering, it follows a similar recipe to its brilliant predecessor with front-wheel drive, trick PerfoHub front suspension, torsion-beam rear and a four-cylinder turbo engine, downsized from 2.0 litres to 1.8 for the latest generation.

The manual gearbox also continues – maybe, like Porsche’s GT3, Renault got burned by deciding to offer only a dual-clutch ’box on the Clio RS – and while you can get a dual-clutch gearbox (for £1.7k) with launch control and multi-downchange function and a 15lb ft slug of extra torque too, the manual fights back with extra driver involvement/workload, and a manual handbrake (the auto gets an e-handbrake). 

Buyers again get to choose between the regular Sport or the firmer Cup chassis, which adds just under £2k. The Trophy we’re running takes things further. (The Trophy-R, tested in CAR August, takes them further still.) The headlines focus on a new engine tune that nudges power up from 276bhp – slightly underwhelming  in the context of the competition – to a healthier if still far from class-leading 296bhp, partly thanks to a larger turbo with ceramic bearings.

Ben Barry in his office: the view from the Megane RS 300 Trophy cabin

Trophy-spec cars also get the Cup chassis (with the Cup’s 25 per cent firmer shocks, 30 per cent stiffer springs and 10 per cent stiffer anti-roll bars), a Torsen limited-slip diff and the 19-inch wheels (not the 18s standard on Sport models), which save 2kg each. Bridgestone Potenzas are standard, as are bi-material Brembo brakes with 355mm front discs. You’ll pay from £31,835 for a Trophy, compared with £27,810 for a base RS. It’s slightly more than a basic Honda Civic Type R, and a couple of grand up on the Hyundai i30N Performance.

On top of that, our test car has £4250 of options: Liquid Yellow metallic paint (£1300); upgraded Bose stereo (£800); rear parking camera and front parking sensors (£400); and the Visio system, which includes lane-departure warning, traffic-sign recognition and an automatic high/low-beam function (£250). 

Even though it’s a Trophy, you don’t get the alcantara Recaro sports seats as standard – they’re part of a further £1500 upgrade. Because they look and feel so good, and they’re also 20mm lower set, you can bet that secondhand buyers won’t be interested in a car that doesn’t have them fitted.

The total for our car is £36,085: a good chunk of cash for a hot hatch. It’s already run-in, with over 3000 miles on the clock, so we’re straight down to business – and our first few drives suggest we’re in for an exciting half-year.

Logbook: Renault Megane RS 300 Trophy

Price £31,835 (£36,085 as tested)
Performance 1798cc turbocharged four-cylinder, 296bhp, 5.7sec 0-62mph, 162mph
Efficiency 34.4mpg (official), 27mpg (tested), 183g/km CO2
Energy cost 21.6 per mile
Miles this month 311
Total miles 3678

More real-world long-term tests by the CAR magazine team

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

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