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Renault Megane RS 265 review

Andrew Unsworth
10 Dec 2014
Price when reviewed 
26,930
inc VAT, on-the-road

The Megane RS 265 is a terrific hot-hatch let down slightly by typical Megane annoyances

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Specifications

We approached the Renault Megane RS 265 with some trepidation, being fond of hot-hatches but less enamoured with the Renault Megane, and came away vowing never to pre-judge anything again. Although the conservatively styled RS 265 is based on an ordinary Megane, it benefits from a turbocharged 2-litre engine that develops a maximum 265hp at 5,500rpm and 360nm of torque at 3,000rpm. This powers it from 0-62mph in just six seconds, and onto a top speed of 158mph. These figures may pale in comparison to those of the Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-Type, but they’re utterly respectable in the context of a hot-hatch.

As is common with many modern performance cars, the Megane RS 265 operates in one of three modes: Normal, Sport and Race. In Normal mode the Megane RS 265 can only summon 250hp and 340nm of torque, and while it doesn’t feel sluggish you do need to press the accelerator fairly deep to generate a significant shove. There’s plenty of power for overtaking and pulling out of junctions, and the Megane RS 265 is still enjoyable to drive in this mode. There are some cars where the normal or non-sport mode makes it feel too restrained and dull, but that isn’t the case here. Renault has got the balance between safety, fuel economy and performance pretty much just right with the Megane RS 265’s Normal mode.

However, toggling Sport mode changes the character of the car, making it much livelier and more engaging. Even lightly feathering the throttle in second or third is met with an eager surge of torque that’d turn into a torrent if you press harder on the gas pedal. You can feel the traction control loosen up too, although the RS 265 still feels safe thanks to remarkable levels of grip. The Megane RS 265 may look quiet and unassuming, but it feels and behaves like a proper sports car. Race mode turns off electronic stability control completely and is best used on the track, although we didn’t find ourselves in a ditch when we used engaged Race mode on our regular twisting test routes, which was comforting.

The Megane RS 265 cornered beautifully, and there was no sign of the understeer that somewhat spoils the Clio RS 200 EDC Lux. The RS 265 turns in to corners sharply and grips the road like a limpet, and its steering, while light enough to make the RS 265 a doddle to manoeuvre around town and multi-storey car parks, gives enough feedback on the open road. The ride is harder than a regular road car, as you’d expect it to be, but bumps are well damped and speed bumps are handled with ease. The effect is odd, as you can see the car falling and rising as it covers rough ground, just like with older hot-hatches, but you don’t get the headaches or the back pain. This is all the more astounding given that our car was fitted with the Cup chassis pack, which includes stiffer springs and anti-roll bar. 

The Megane RS 265 is only available with a manual gearbox, and while this means the car feels like an old-school ‘90s hot-hatch and makes us wish we were 19 again, the Megane RS 265 is crying out for the twin-clutch EDC gearbox seen on the Clio RS 200 EDC Lux. Even so, the RS 265’s very light clutch and smooth, accurate gearshifts make it a pleasure to drive ordinarily as a family hatchback, not a challenge.

The RS 265 is equipped with 340mm discs and four-pot Brembo calipers at the front, and 290mm discs at the rear. The brakes are progressive rather than immediate and abrupt, as befits a hot-hatch. You’ll have no trouble bleeding off speed when putting the RS 265 through its paces on a country road, but neither will you give your passengers whiplash when you come up to a roundabout. Personally, we’d prefer the RS 265’s brakes to be more abrupt and immediate, but we think Renault has got the balance right for what is first and foremost an everyday road car.

INTERIOR

There’s little room in the rear for passengers, but you do get all the gadgets that are essential for modern driving, though, such as electric windows, electrically adjustable wing mirrors and steering wheel-mounted controls. However, the only buttons on the steering wheel itself are the speed limiter and cruise control buttons, not the buttons you’d really want such as audio and telephone controls. Those are placed on stalks attached to the steering column. This is surely a mistake in a car designed for those growing old disgracefully.

As good as the Megane RS 265 is to drive, it does still bear all the usual Megane annoyances such as a meagre cupholder that’s rendered near useless due to its proximity to the centre console. You certainly won’t be using it at the drive-thru, and the fact the cupholder is next to the USB port means even storing 330ml cans of pop can be problematic if you’re using anything other than a small form-factor USB flash drive. There isn’t much storage space in the Megane, with the glove box being a weird shape that’s best used for storing the car’s operating manual, but the bins on the driver and passenger doors are fairly wide and long. The best place to store odds and ends, such as sunglasses, CDs, portable routers and so on is the cubby under the driver’s arm rest, but if you do use it for those things you won’t be able to use the cubby as an unofficial cupholder.

As befits a RenaultSport car, the Megane RS 265 is trimmed in carbon-fibre and a couple of RS decals. Sadly, the trim does little to lift what is otherwise a purely functional interior. The handbrake is oriented at an odd angle which would make sense on a left-hand drive car, but which makes using the handbrake a bit uncomfortable on a right-hand drive model. We do like the red seatbelts, though, which are fitted to all five seats.  

Undeniably sporty are the front Recaro sports seats, and while their high sides make getting in and out of the RS 265 a little trickier than we’d like, not once did we curse them or feel any discomfort. We found the seats to be comfortable, even on fairly long journeys, which is all the more remarkable given the high amount of lateral support they provide. Even our passenger commented on the unexpected level of comfort. If you plan on using your Megane RS 265 on a track as well as the road, you’ll definitely value the Recaro sports seats.

Sadly, the Megane RS 265’s practicality does take a hit when it comes to the boot, as it has a high front lip that makes getting bulky items in and out of it more difficult than it needs to be. A split tailgate would help here. The boot’s capacity is 344 litres with the rear seats up and 991 litres with the rear seats down.