The car’s driving position remains flawed, seating this slightly taller-than-average tester either too close to the pedals or too far from the other primary controls for optimum comfort. Apologies that these are all criticisms of this car that you may have read previously, but since Renault has failed to address so many of them, they seem worth repeating.
And we’re not finished with them yet, because the automatic car’s ergonomic failings continue to extend to high and unintuitively placed ‘manual’ shift paddles for the six-speed gearbox, and now that it’s EDC or nothing, that seems to annoy all the more. You shouldn’t have to move your hands from a-quarter-to-three on the wheel to reach a shift paddle, and on a car whose super-direct rack seems purpose-built to encourage such a fixed grip on the rim, you really shouldn’t.
The good news? Well, Renault’s optional bucket seats are comfortable and clamp your backside right where it needs to be. Four-seat passenger space is decent, provided that longer-legged drivers are prepared to bear the brunt of the car’s oddly shallow front footwells.
To drive, the Mégane RS Trophy’s highly strung character hasn’t changed, although I’m not sure that sampling it with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox improves the car overall. We should add at this point that we tested the car in chilly, wet conditions that, it would quickly become obvious to any owner, aren’t its natural home. On a warmer test day, the tenor of all this might have been somewhat different. Still, we can only report as we find.
The boosty engine, firm ride, fast-paced four-wheel steering system and Torsen LSD can combine to make this car a hyperactive drive on tougher cross-country roads. It’s always lively, but its handling is particularly sensitive to bump, camber and disruption by tractive forces. On a wet road, the car swings from feeling really involving to quite suddenly become a bit wild and unruly and then swings back again as you probe away at its grip levels. Amid the wet and the mud and the murk, it’s very definitely an ESC-on kind of drive.
The way that the car is configured and tuned would make a great deal more sense – and for a lot more fun on a dry track. In any conditions, the Mégane RS Trophy is a livewire and likable for it. But in less-than-perfect conditions, its chassis is just a bit too reactive and direct. You’re too busy second-guessing it to be able to place the car intuitively on the road.