In defence of the Renault Sport Megane

Swade here. I’d like you to welcome a mate of mine, Pete, to the pages of Swadeology. You might have seen him around before, with the title “PT”. Pete and I met via the shared Saab experience – he’s been the owner of several Swedes and currently has a 9-3 SportCombi in the family garage. He’s around my age, very well read, resides here in Australia and was one of the few wise counsellors who made up the unofficial SU Board back when things were going nuts at Saab in 2009. He also plays drums for the Rolling Stones in some of their rehearsal sessions. Actually thats not true but he would if Mick and Keith ever called.

When I posted Option 3 yesterday, there were a few who questioned the merits of the Megane RS being on my shopping list. I figured I’d best get someone with first-hand experience to talk about it a little. Pete’s perfectly placed to do so as he actually owned one until very recently.

I hope you enjoy Pete’s occasional contributions

RenaultSport Megane: the ownership experience. Where to start?

My time with 2.0 litres of Gallic fury in a 225 Sport Cup was short and sweet. Short? Well, let’s just say that was my fault, not the car’s. But sweet? Well, there are many, many ways to explain that.

The stats & details. 165kW/300Nm. 2.0 turbo. 1361kg. Brembo. 225/40/R18. Its a lot of car, whatever you’re paying. Of course, your can always go aftermarket too (hello Henk at Fastchips!) and the numbers go up and up. All without hardware updates.

The utility. It’s a formula that any Saab devotee needs no convincing of. 3-5 doors with a hatch. Seating for 5. Ample boot (thanks to Le Derriere (youTube that to see possibly one of the best car advertisements of all time). Roof rack mounts. There is not much you can’t carry in a Megane – and you won’t sweat about it during the journey thanks to the durable and practical charcoal interior. Sure, the leather is nothing close to what you’ll find from Sweden or Italy but thats part of the charm. Its workman-like rather than luxurious. Not to mention space for bigger people than you’d think. I’m on the XXL size (think rugby forward) and never had an issue with space. Front seat or back.

The running costs. It seems Renault has learned a lot from Nissan. They often share service facilities here in Australia and from my experience, the approach to billing as well. Very un-European in that account. Running costs are modest from week to week and the servicing is the icing on the cake.

Safety and tech. 5-star NCAP (Renault were first in the world here with the Laguna. Seriously) 6 airbags, xenons, rain sensors, parking sensors, switchable stability and traction control, cruise control. The most intuitive steering-mounted stereo controls I’ve ever used and a fuel tank without a cap (the cover is the cap). This is a modern, clever car in every sense.

The clincher? The drive. The Megane RS has pickup and acceleration like few cars under $100k and quite a few over. Then you come to the corners. Turn-in, hold and exit without a hint of give or roll. Total trust and confidence. It is simply a magical drive which very few cars in my experience can match. Despite the comparisons, the hot Golfs don’t come close and the Focus turbo is off the pace too. The EVO/WRX twins are comparable but lack the simplicity and style of the Renault. They’ve got the numbers on paper but none seem to have the RS ability to transmit this into their driving experience in the same way. Perhaps its because the RS cars come from a dedicated facility and aren’t just another option on a regular production line. Whatever the source, succesive hot Meganes have held their class record at the NurburgRing and that doesn’t happen by accident.

My RS Megane 225 Cup was the best car I’ve ever had. The completeness of the car coupled with the direct links to Renault Sport and the vibrant online/car club communities are an irresestible combination. It’s only a matter of time until I get another one. Burnt Orange this time.

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    1. There were some questions of merit in comments and Pete’s first-hand knowledge was appropriate to include here.

    2. And yes, I’m trying to ignore your fishing attempt to see if this post by Pete is a resolution to the “which car” question….. 🙂

  1. Morning Turbin.
    Didn’t mean to sound defensive (effusive was the intent) but I suppose I did have some of the comments from Swades earlier posts in mind and wanted to tell it as I saw it so perhaps that comes through a little. Haven’t convinced you then, have I ?

    1. So, Pete, you covered the “sweet” part quite well. Can you shed more light on the “short” part?

      1. Well it went like this.

        For the last few years, I drove a BMW X5 and my wife drove the 93 Sportcombi. However, due to my daily commute, the mileage on the X5 was getting up there and costs were certainly mounting so it was time for a change. I wanted something more fun to drive and the Renault had long been a favourite. It was also practical enough to pass as a part-time fmaily car. Madam didn’t want to drive the X5 so we made the decision that the 93 would be our family car – modest in size as it is. After about 10 months it was pretty clear that this was not quite working. We’d gained another dog (2nd whippet) and were also increasingly spending weekends away visiting family in the country on dirt roads. I considered the three car garage situation but couldn’t really justify that and we really did need something larger and more robust – which turned out to be a Volvo XC70.

        Thus: it was a choice between the Renault and the Saab as the daily driver and much as I loved the Renault, the Saab is more suited to my commute & also cost us less. Not to mention the place that Saab holds in my heart……..and so the Renault went. It was sad and I still miss it.

        Hope this explains – it really wasn’t the car, it was me.