Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy

Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy meets a kindred spirit in Bainskloof Pass. Image: Ray Leathern

LAST of its kind: Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy review

To celebrate the G.O.A.T., we let the Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy do what it does best … stretch its legs on a stunning piece of road.

Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy

Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy meets a kindred spirit in Bainskloof Pass. Image: Ray Leathern

The Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy and Bainskloof Pass share a kindred spirit. Both are visionary projects made against extreme odds and utterly without compromise. And, today, they both stand as testament to how good they were originally built.


Bainskloof Pass
Image from Dacre-se-preekstoel, Bainskloof Pass in the 1800s. Image: Western Cape Archives

Bainskloof Pass was opened by Andrew Geddes Bain in 1853 after four and a half years of hard graft. Making use of free labour from one thousand slave convicts, it cost £50 000 to build some 170-years ago. An unthinkable cost back then, which is equivalent to R133 million, when corrected for inflation. However, for reference, recent improvements to the pass completed in 2022 by the Western Cape Government cost R317 million. So, maybe the original wasn’t so expensive after all …

Nevertheless, Bainkloof Pass, through the Limiet and Slanghoekberge, connects Wellington to the interior of the Western Cape. At the time it was but one of many passes built in a vast 19th century road expansion programme. Immediately it was acknowledged as a towering achievement in civil engineering. Better still, the 30 km pass has remained virtually untouched (besides refurbishment) to this day. It was even declared a national monument back in 1980. There is no worthier road for a Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy review.


Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy on Bainskloof Pass
The road is smoother … that’s about it. The topography and layout of Bainskloof Pass is unchanged in more than 170 years. Image: Ray Leathern

Just like the pass, the Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy – ever since the original hot Megane was built by Renault – has been acknowledged as the greatest front-wheel-drive hot hatch of all time. Now, several generations and countless special editions later, the Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy has been perfected.

Try on 221 kW and 420 Nm of torque from its 1.8-litre turbo engine. That makes it one of the most powerful engines per litre in the world. It’s a howling, torque-rich testament to Renault Sport’s engineering glory in Formula 1. Also, complying with all fuel and emissions concerns, it’s one the cleanest and most economical engines (182 g/km and 8.0 l/100 km respectively) per kW, too.


Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy
Nothing tests a car (and driver) like the narrow twists and turns of Bainskloof Pass. Image: Ray Leathern

Moreover, the Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy drivetrain is equipped with a genuine mechanical limited-slip differential. This ensures all drive is delivered seamlessly to the road via the front axle. Renault Sport engineers have massaged a near-perfect weight distribution, too, which goes hand-in-hand with the RS 300 Trophy’s 4Control four-wheel steering system. It helps tighten turns at slow speed and stabilise the chassis at high speeds. This is thanks to infinitesimal adjustment of the rear wheels. Genius.  

So, the Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy has every tool imaginable to provide unrelenting driving prowess for a front-wheel drive. Including a rapid-fire dual-clutch gearbox (with paddle shifters), so it’s easy to drive in traffic. Furthermore, even to the most stringent buyer, it is brilliantly equipped with modern conveniences, too. For R949 999, Renault makes sure the Megane RS 300 Trophy comes with all the fixings. Apple CarPlay and Andriod Auto touchscreen infotainment, BOSE sound system, full digital cluster, seat heaters, auto LED lights, live tyre-pressure monitors, satellite navigation, you name it …


Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy
The Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy is built for hugging the turns. Image: Ray Leathern

The ascent out of Wellington, on the western side of Bainskloof Pass provides enough open road to let the Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy’s trick motor howl. It’s as if the turbo engine has an anti-lag system, it gets so quickly up to speed. The exhaust note roars off the mountain slopes like it’s tuned directly into your ear drums. Then rattles and booms violently on the overrun when you lift of the throttle. Maximum torque feels like it kicks in the instant you stab the gas pedal as it brings on a burst of surging acceleration.

On the tight, twisty Eastern side, however, it’s the Renault Sport’s weapons grade Brembo brakes, direct steering and quick-fire dual-clutch gearbox that get their work out. Relentless braking, steering, and gear shifting through the kloof is hard work. Especially with the constant threat of precipitous cliffs at every corner. Stray off course in the other direction and you’re into a sheer rock face. Or a signature white ‘Bain’s tombstone’ lining the road. This road does a wonderful job of focusing your senses, honing a tunnel-vision approach as you race along.


Ticking itself cool after a successful Bainskloof Pass sortie. Image: Ray Leathern

Stringing together Bainskloof Pass’s tight, precise twists at speed in a Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy must be one of the most exhilarating driving experiences on earth. Moreover, we doubt any car could do it faster. The hot hatch’s unique combination of inch-perfect steering, front-wheel-drive repeatability and four-wheel-steer agility are unmatched on such a demanding road. As the car ticks itself cool at the summit overlooking Wellington and beyond, it’s difficult not to feel a sense of awe

Pure internal-combustion-engine hot hatches like the Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy are dying out. It, and others like it, are doomed to be left in the wake of modernity’s inscrutable progress. Just like in 1949, when Du Toit’s Kloof Pass near Paarl became the new preferred route connecting the Western Cape to the interior. And in 1988, when the Huguenot tunnel surpassed even that.

Nevertheless, Bainskloof Pass will always be regarded as Andrew Geddes Bains’ magnum opus. And so, too, should the Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy be acknowledged as the G.O.A.T front-wheel-drive hot hatch. May the pass and car be well looked after so they can live long into the future to thrill and invigorate the purist few.


  • Best for: Race car for the road with a sense of real connection you cannot find just anywhere. Efficient, usable and pretty versatile with the dual-clutch gearbox.
  • Not so sure: Extra power does create a fair amount of torque steer. We’d love to experience a hardcore version that sheds 100 kg.
  • Renault Sport Megane RS 300 Trophy
  • Engine: 1 799 cc 4-cyl turbo petrol
  • Power: 221 kW, 420 Nm
  • Performance: 5.93 sec 0-100 km/h (tested), 5.70 sec (claimed)
  • Gearbox: 6-speed dual-clutch auto
  • Economy: 9.5 l/100 km (tested), 8.0 l/100 km (claimed/combined)
  • Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza 245/35/R19
  • Price: R949 999

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