REVIEW: Renault Megane R.S. 300 Trophy marks the end of a French hot hatch era

The Renault Megane R.S. 300 Trophy is the last of its kind from the French carmaker. Picture: Renault.

The Renault Megane R.S. 300 Trophy is the last of its kind from the French carmaker. Picture: Renault.

Published Apr 5, 2024


If you like fast hatchbacks with a fantastic exhaust sound, grab one while you still can before electric vehicles replace it and we’re reduced to piped cabin engine sounds.

There’s only 55 destined for South Africa, but the Renault Megane R.S. 300 Trophy is definitely one of those you should look out for.

In fact, this will be the Megane R.S. Trophy’s local swansong with the Renault Sport brand set to follow suit globally as the carmaker shifts towards said EVs.

The whole package from its RS livery, centre dual sound valve system exhaust, rear diffuser, low stance on 19-inch Jerez Diamond Cut alloys with red inserts and sporty interior shouts that it’s a car that appears like it’s fun to drive, means business and wants to be driven like it looks.

With a 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine they have managed to coax a not insignificant 221kW and 420Nm using F1 technology applied to the turbo and exhaust.

Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed dual clutch transmission that will get to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds and top out at 260km/h.

Inside the bucket sports Alcantra seats with red stitching provide excellent support and the leather covered steering wheel with a red stripe to show the centre fitted perfectly in my hands.

The paddles are easily accessible and when driving it with pace around corners, change effortlessly with a flick of the pinky finger.

There’s a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, the digital dash changes according to the mode selected and the cockpit has mood lighting which given the car’s personality should stay red.

Let’s just say that the R.S. Trophy needs you to have your wits about you once you push the start button and the exhaust grumbles into action in Normal/Natural Mode.

Once the engine has warmed up slightly it pipes down but it’s always in the background while in Sport and Race Mode it’s a constant companion reminding you to focus as the steering and throttle response sharpens.

It makes no pretence at being a comfortable family runabout, despite decent rear legroom and a substantial boot.

The ride is firm throughout as a result of the R.S. 300’s stiffened suspension with hydraulic compression stops ostensibly designed to give a more comfortable ride.

But who cares when you’re behind the wheel?

The R.S. 300 comes fully into its own when you drive it how they designed it.

There’s an ever so slight turbo lag in the highveld before it grips and bolts forward and despite a bunch of electricity, it can’t help itself to a decent dollop of torque steer with a torsen mechanical limited slip diff preventing the tyres going up in smoke.

My first encounter coming onto a highway on one of those lovely long curved entrances the rear felt a bit tail happy but then I remembered that it has 4Control four-wheel steering and was actually asking for more.

It clings like a new-born calf to its mother around bends and sharp corners with impressive control, pressing you tightly to the sides of the seat while you thread your way through the twisties.

One thing though. The cup holders are very shallow and at the first sign of a corner whatever you have in them will fall out. It’s a good thing I had a bottle of water and not a hot take-away coffee.

It comes to a stop quickly too with lightened bi-material discs in front shod with red Brembo callipers, of course, should you encounter a slow overloaded truck ahead of you.

As a result of the stiffer suspension and low profile tyres, the Renault Megane R.S. 300 Trophy is not keen on our pot-holed roads so you need to select your route carefully and when you do, you will be rewarded with a true driver’s hot hatch experience that only a few manufacturers still care about.

It comes with a five-year/90 000km Service Plan, a five-year/150 000km mechanical warranty and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.

Pricing: R949 999