Renault Megane RS 265: One angry little car
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RS 265 growls like a dog and likes to tear up corners, writes Damien O'Carroll
There is very little that is pleasantly evocative about the sound a Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 makes. It doesn't sing a delightful mechanical melody and seduce your mind by conjuring up images of pretty and exotic women dancing an intricate and beautiful dance in the rain to the tune of a seductively delicate symphony.
Nope. Instead it is a flat, almost ugly sound that is far, far more reminiscent of an angry dog emanating aimlessly angry growls from the engine. There are a range of tortured howls from the tyres and a thick tearing noise emitted from the exhaust, as well as a barrage of worryingly forceful small explosions every time the driver lifts off.
But let's be completely honest here for a moment; anything mental enough to chuck 195kW of power and 360Nm of torque through the front wheels is going to be hilarious in one way or another. It's just that the RS 265 does it with such violent charm and remarkable precision (thanks to its fantastic "Cup" chassis and LSD) that the eye-widening belt towards the horizon in a straight line is actually not the most enjoyable aspect of its abilities.
Nope, that title goes to its capacity to tear a corner to shreds only to make it obvious that it could have gone through twice as hard.
And it is this challengingly defiant attitude towards corners that makes the Renault Megane RS 265 addictive. It goads, prods and hounds you to press progressively harder through each successive corner, rewarding more and more each time. Until you simply have to stop, because your face is hurting from grinning so much ...
Of course the RS 265 is all about serious driving; after all, it is only available in three-door form and it only comes with a six-speed manual transmission. This means it will sell to people who really want it. And that is exactly how it should be.
With 195kW of power and 360Nm of torque through the front wheels - the three-door, six-speed manual a car for people interested in serious driving.
The RS 265 is not to be bought because it's the most expensive Megane. It's not one to sit outside a cafe, or to take little Brittney to ballet. It would be an offence to restrict it to such a life. It would punch you in the throat. If cars were self-aware, that is. And had fists ...
Rivals like the Ford Focus ST and VW Golf GTi may make weak-kneed nods towards practicality, like having five doors, but the RS 265 has no time for such limp-wristed pandering.
As such, it obviously won't sell in huge numbers. Which is okay, because at $55,990 it represents a hell of a lot of money for a small three-door hatch. But it handily happens to pack a hell of a lot of performance for just 56K.
While the RS 265 has been here before, this new version boasts a few upgrades, as well as an all-new face that makes it the first of the Megane range to get the new Renault family look. And, by God, does it work well on the angry little RS 265.
Along with the new face are new headlights with LED daytime running lights, while on the inside it gains carbon fibre-look trim with red highlights and red stitching, as well as red seat belts.
The RS 265 comes standard with six airbags, automatic headlights, a backing camera, the new Renault "R-Link" system that integrates the infotainment and Bluetooth phone connectivity into a large 7-inch touchscreen, and an exclusive speedometer and rev counter.
A set of 18-inch alloy wheels are standard, as well as a seriously excellent set of Brembo brakes. Which is just as well, because the RS 265 can knock the 0 to 100km/h sprint off in six seconds flat.
However, if you're really serious about spending more money on your mad little Megane, then a considered approach may be needed, as sometime in 2015 a limited run of just 10 RS 275s, packing 201kW and 360Nm, will be landing, as well as two very special examples of the blistering R version that recently set a Nurburgring time of a silly 7 minutes 54 seconds.
But that's for later. Right now we have the RS 265 and its utterly addictive ability to seemingly straighten out corners by the sheer force of its belligerent will.
The local launch of the new RS 265 took place at the Hampton Downs race track, where it was a delight to chuck around. While we didn't get the chance to do any real driving, previous experience with the RS 265 promises it will be even better in the real world, with its tenacious abilities blended with a surprising amount of day-to-day ride comfort and usability.
Although it's only a three-door, the rear seats are usable enough but are probably suitable only for taking the kids to school - but be selfish and buy a Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 anyway.