Most car designers aim to create vehicles which stand out among their peers but, even in a segment with as much look-at-me styling as hot hatches, some are able to elevate themselves from their peers.
Just as the standard Megane is more eye-catching than most small cars, the hotted up RS version also draws the eye.
It’s a cracking looking car, especially in the test vehicle’s Liquid yellow metallic paint ($1000 extra).
The Megane RS is also a treat to ferry about town, at least in the more road-friendly Sport guise.
Slip it into Neutral or Comfort mode and there is very little to be upset about — the engine seems distant and quiet, the ride is comfortable and the suspension cosseting.
The interior has a bit too much plastic and can come off a bit tacky with its abundance of ambient lighting, while the infotainment and steering wheel controls take some getting used to.
But this is a very refined, enjoyable drive around the burbs.
Well, if you want it to be. Of course, this type of car makes or breaks on its performance credentials — and the Megane RS thankfully excels in most areas when going hard.
We say most areas because there’s an immediate issue when having a play: this thing struggles to get its power down off the line. Wet weather didn’t help but the wheels spun and car shuddered every time we tried to take off with moderately heavy throttle.
Annoyingly, the Megane RS can be had with a Cup chassis and, among other gear, a Torsen limited slip differential. However, it’s only available as a manual.
It was a real downer because, everywhere else, the RS shines — including the dual clutch transmission on the test car.
Find an open stretch and plant it and the transmission impressively holds on until the redline, before letting rip with a fantastic belch as it slickly changes up a cog.
The 1.8-litre turbo offers great power from down low and, even without the Cup chassis, the RS’ directional changes are swift and predictable — aided no doubt by the standard all-wheel steering.
The engine noise is enhanced by the audio system, and while you get all the expected sounds it can sometimes sound a tad distant and video game-like.
Rear headroom is acceptable but most adults will struggle for leg and foot room if they’re forced into back seats.
There is plenty of kit included, such as satellite navigation with live traffic updates and performance perks such as launch control and an RS monitor which uses 40 sensors around the vehicle to offer performance stats in real time. Unfortunately, Renault has chosen to go with a slim, credit-card shaped key fob which, while sleek, also lacks key-ring attachment points.
Our press car’s keys came to us with the key fob inserted into a plastic bag and then attached to a key ring.
They might have out-thought themselves with that one.
An attractive, refined and well-equipped small car with serious performance at its disposal — though if going hard is your priority you may want to look at the manual-only Cup version.
Variant RS Sport
Price $47,490 (as tested $50,180 plus on roads)
Engine 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
Transmission Six-speed automatic