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RENAULT GETS RAPID (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Renault's fastest Megane delivers thrills that are as big as ever. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 79
Renault continues to retain its place amongst the hot hatchback elite with this revitalised Megane R.S. The headlines include a 4Control 4-wheel steering system, plus a powerful 1.8-litre engine putting out 300hp. There's a five-door bodystyle and you can get paddleshift auto transmission if you want it too. As before, there's a choice of a standard model with a 'Sport' chassis and a track-ready 'Trophy' variant with a stiffened 'Cup' chassis, options that present buyers with an interesting choice.
Backgroundword count: 198
We British love our hot hatchbacks. While other European nations are left cold by the prospect of a compact family car that could make a Ferrari look silly on a race circuit and reach licence confiscation territory a matter of seconds after idling at the traffic lights, UK buyers go crazy for anything with the right mix of letters like G, T, R, V and S in its title. Renault has capitalised on this fascination better that almost any other manufacturer in recent years, its Dieppe factory churning out a whole series of Renaultsport models which have hopped across the Channel to beguile the UK's enthusiasts. This third generation Megane Renaultsport is the latest in that line. Most class-leading hot hatches - Golfs, Focuses and so on - are great because they build on the established dynamic excellence imbued into the standard models upon which they are based. In contrast, for all its many virtues, an ordinary Renault Megane would, you'd think, never be a car likely to sire something sensational. Yet with this Megane R.S. the Dieppe division engineers claim to have managed to deliver just that. Have they worked their magic once more? Let's find out.
Driving Experienceword count: 280
Under the bonnet, the 1.8-litre engine in the standard model now develops 300hp, the same as in the top 'Trophy' version. It remains the world's most powerful 1.8-litre unit, offering 390Nm of torque. Through the corners, you'll be able to get all that grunt onto the tarmac a little more easily thanks to standard '4CONTROL' four-wheel steering that aims to ensure stability at high speeds and agility at low speeds. At high speeds, the front and rear wheels turn in the same direction, limited to a one degree angle for the rear wheels. At low speeds, the front and rear wheels turn in opposite directions up to a maximum angle of 2.7 degrees. The ride's surprisingly good too (for a hot hatch), thanks to all round hydraulic bump stops that also enable optimum control of tyre-ground contact. In the manual model, 62mph from rest takes 5.4s en route to a 163mph maximum. What else? Well the option of an Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) auto gearbox is available, alongside a manual transmission. And two different types of chassis are on offer - 'Sport' (in the standard model) or 'Cup' (in the Trophy variant). There's also an even more focused Trophy variant, the Trophy R which is aimed at trackday regulars. The Sport chassis provides easy sporty driving, whilst the Cup chassis offers greater, more focused performance for track and fast road use. If you favour the 'Cup' set-up, you're the kind of buyer who'll probably be interested in the 'S. Monitor Expert' system that allows drivers to film their track sessions and overlay telemetry data to create augmented reality videos that can later be analysed on a provided 'R.S. Replay' website.
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