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Rob Maetzig from Stuff.co.nz recently took a Renault Megane RS275 for a drive and here is what he had to say about it after:
Late last year I had to go into hospital for surgery.
During the usual pre-op interviews with the medical experts, we weren't long into the dicussions when my anaesthetist told me he had purchased a Renault Megane RS265 after reading a review I had written about the French hot hatch.
Gee, I thought with the coming surgery foremost on my mind, I hope he liked it. Turned out he loved the car. He loved the fact its 184 kilowatt engine (that's 265 horsepower, hence the badging) contributed to one of the world's outstanding hot hatch drives. He also loved its ultra-sharp handling via a 'Cup' sports chassis.
Recently, several months later, I thought of the anaesthetist again - not because of any impending surgery, but because I was behind the wheel of an even more powerful version of the racey Renault, the $74,990 Megane RS275 Trophee.
As the badging suggests, the power generated by its 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine has been increased to 205 kW or 275 horsepower. That's sufficient to catapult the two-door hatch to 100 kmh in six seconds flat and on, I'm told, to a top speed of 255 kmh. Little wonder then that this RS can crack eight minutes on the notorious 21 km race circuit at Nurburgring in Germany.
One of the fun discussions that regularly seems to take place between motoring writers involves their opinions on which is the hottest hot hatch. There's lots of choice, particularly from the European manufacturers. And every time, it is the Megane RS that is right up there among the favourites.
Those journos who experienced the RS265 last year, when a facelifted model arrived after a two-year hiatus, were so impressed with its performance potential that I don't think anyone dared argue against the suggestion that, of the hot hatch fleet, it may well be the true hottie.
And now its been made 10 horsepower more powerful. Not only that but the car has also been made lighter because it features standard fitment of a titanium exhaust system. Kerb weight is now 1376 kg, which is excellent for a vehicle that offers the 205 kW of power and 360 newton metres of torque.
Another interesting feature of that exhaust system, which has been jointly developed with Slovenian specialists company Akrapovic, is that it offers a more raucus note when the Renault is driven full-noise. It's a great note.
Nothing much has been done to the look of the Megane RS275 when compared to the RS265. It continues to offer low-slung styling that makes it look like something between a hatch and a coupe, and up front there continues to be a big triangular Renault logo flanked by aggressively feline-looking headlights.
As would be expected, the interior is very sporting, featuring form-fitting Recaro seats and a short-throw six-speed manual transmission. But overall, from a cosmetic point of view there is little that is different from the RS265 that it replaces. And that's no bad thing, because that car was such good product anyway.
That means that all the difference involves that more powerful engine.
As was the case with the RS265, around town the Megane RS275 is a reasonably difficult car to drive due to its combination of the performance engine with six-speed manual, and a firm-riding chassis. But get out on the open road and open things up, and it immediately becomes obvious what this hatchback is all about - and that is high-class performance motoring. My friend the anaesthetist would be pleased.
The full article and more photos are available here.