Up until this point, previous generations of Renault's Megane R.S. were only offered with a manual transmission. However, in a wise move to let the much-vaunted French hot hatch bask in mass adoration, the new-generation Renault Megane R.S. Cup 280 now comes in either manual or automatic.
By offering a six-speed automatic, hot hatch enthusiast who prefers to drive with only the right leg can expand their list of one — the Volkswagen Golf R — to two. And almost just like the Vee-Dub, the Megane R.S. comes with a dual-clutch transmission, the EDC.
In the Megane R.S., the EDC has been reinforced to resist the forces of the turbocharged engine. Beyond that, the automatic transmission allowed Renault to tweak the drive, giving it four modes for drivers to play around with. Called the Multi-Sense, drivers have four drive modes to choose from — Comfort, Normal, Sport and Race.
You could guess how the gears will shift in Comfort and Normal (hint: smooth), and the speed of the shift only goes quicker from there. Additionally, in Sport, the engine noise starts to get amplified because sound equals emotion equals excitement, yes? And Race mode shifts the gears quicker than Sport, obviously.
On top of that, Sport and Race also unlock two bonus functions. The first, Multi-Change Down, drops down several gears instantly when the left paddle shifter is held down. Then, the best gear ratio is chosen to launch the car out of the corner. Launch Control is also available at these settings, pre-loading the clutch and turbo for a supercar-like acceleration. When used in Sport, traction controls comes in to find grip in slippery situations.
Whether you go with the EDC or the manual, it will be paired with a 1.8-litre turbocharged that has been tinkered by Renault Sport Cars and Renault Sport Racing to produce 276hp (or 280PS, which explains the nameplate) and 390Nm of torque. The hot hatch gets to 100kph from zero in a blazing 5.8 seconds and up to a top speed of 255kph (or 250kph with the EDC).
A redesigned cylinder head, new integrated cooling system, additional twin air inlet to the turbocharger and a chain-driven timing system allows the road-tax friendly engine takes on the tasks of the previous larger 2.0-litre turbocharged engine.
Handling, one of the hallmarks of the front-wheel-drive Megane R.S., looks to be better than ever with the inclusion of the 4CONTROL four-wheel steering system. A world's first-in-segment, this system points the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels up to one degree at high speeds and in the opposite direction up to 2.7 degrees at lower speeds. This switchover point happens at 60kph or 100kph in Race mode. You can expect tighter and neater turns from this Megane.
Other handling-surprises up the Megane R.S.' sleeves is the inclusion of four hydraulic compression stops. These hydraulic bump stops filters disruptions when driven with spirit, increasing damping at the same time eliminating rebound, ensuring the tyres are always touching the ground. Since we're on the topic, the tyres are shod around 19-inch wheels, which fits nicely with the completely-redesigned front axle to adapt the negative offset geometry.
Brakes don't get much of the spotlight, but they deserve mention here. The front discs have been increased by 15mm from the previous generation to 355mm. Made from aluminium/cast iron, these discs are light and help to reduce 1.8kg per wheel. The brake pedal tuning focuses on the accuracy of the pressure applied, so drivers are always in control, especially on the racetrack.
The Megane R.S. 280 Cup comes in four different colours, with exclusive colour requiring more money. The price? If you buy in the Peninsula, then the Megane R.S. will cost you from RM279,888 for the manual or RM299,888 for the EDC. Prices take a nosedive if you buy them in Langkawi — from RM149,888 for the manual and from RM159,888 for the EDC.
Car prices in Langkawi might be low, but how often will you take your Renault Megane R.S. 280 Cup out from the island for a drive?