Once in a while, a car comes along and reminds us that humanity’s love of driving is alive and well. Earlier this year, it was the Porsche 911 GT3, which received a manual gearbox for the first time in 991 form, and now we’ve just met the latest example, the new Renault Mégane Renault Sport.
Like the 911, Dieppe’s front-drive hatch doesn’t burst in with bold claims of outrageous horsepower or humongous downforce. Instead, it tippy-toes into a foray of big-winged, garish hatchbacks with delicate claims of agility and usability.
Gregoire Ginet, the product manager for the car who features on our video (see below), said the priority for the Mégane RS was to make the car fun to drive, not break Nürburgring lap records. Music to my ears.
His colleague, Renault Sport performance engineering boss Fabien Berthomieu, highlighted the car’s 4Control four-wheel steering system as the key asset that’ll make it the driver’s choice in its class. This is a man who knows what matters in a proper enthusiast’s car. Responsiveness outranks peak power output.
I’ve not driven the car – the closest I got was starting up its new turbocharged 1.8-litre engine and revving it – but my time sitting in the bolstered front chairs, faced with a part-Alcantara-wrapped wheel and with my palm in easy reach of the gear selector (a six-speed manual is standard), suggested this will be a car anyone can get comfortable in. That’s not something that can be said for some of its rivals.
My lasting memories of the previous RS-fettled Mégane are very good, so much so that I did wonder if we’d hit a peak in the model's family tree, one that a more complicated successor would never be able to match. But now, having run my eyes over the new car and spoken to those who helped make it, I can see the priorities during its development have remained in very good order indeed.