RE: Honda Civic Type R vs. Renault Megane 300 Trophy

RE: Honda Civic Type R vs. Renault Megane 300 Trophy

Saturday 29th June

Honda Civic Type R vs. Renault Megane 300 Trophy

The current Civic has swept aside all comers thus far - will the same be true for the new Megane Trophy?



Since its introduction in 2017, the FK8 Civic Type R has become as formidable an adversary as Arsenal's Invincibles team of 2003-04 - regardless of the opposition, it simply cannot be surpassed. Though not as easy on the eye going about its business as Wenger's swaggering side of 15 years ago, the Civic must now carry a similar level of confidence into each new test; no rival before has triumphed, so why would the this one?

The Civic is a better driver's car than even a Mountune'd Focus RS, faster and more efficient than an i30 N and cheaper than a Golf R. While being a thousand times more interesting. So what chance another Renault Sport Megane, a car arguably mired in the kind of underwhelming infancy that Dieppe apparently foists on every new model?

Well, maybe. Despite some undeniable blemishes, the Trophy has already proven to be a more thrilling vehicle than the standard Megane in our hands, and superior to the Golf GTI TCR. Let's not forget either that the Trophy harks from an almost unbroken line of genuine hot hatch pedigree - Clio 182, Megane 275, etc etc - and so expectations are never less than lofty when the name is applied to a lowly Renault. Wider reservations tend to evaporate in the shadow of the Trophy badge. The Megane II wasn't adored from launch, don't forget; neither was the Clio 197, come to think of it...


Still, this is a step up in class and no mistake. The Civic's bewildering array of talents remain as compelling as ever: rapid, intense, tenacious and fierce when needed; comfortable, mellow, plush and refined when not. Given the quality of its contemporaries, the Civic cannot be described as peerless - but so patent are its abilities that class-leading status has never been in serious doubt. Its damping is a masterclass in wheel and body control, delivering unerring precision without sacrificing comfort - even +R is acceptable where it never used to be, and vastly preferable to something like the i30's N mode.

Traction is otherworldly, 320hp consistently reaching the tarmac seemingly unperturbed by surface or steering angle; it's a feat made more impressive by the Civic's fairly ordinary - by mega hatch standard - Continental SportContact6 tyre. The braking performance is mighty, the grip huge, and the speed still pretty extraordinary. But it's the Civic's facility for just making absolutely the right kind of progress everywhere and seemingly at all speeds which separates it from the also-rans. The more you drive it, the more it seems to give back - and the more believable its 7mins 43 sec 'ring lap becomes. It's some car.

Yet here's the thing; in terms of objective handling ability, it's difficult to separate Honda and Renault - and that's a colossal compliment for the latter right out of the gate. The Trophy feels no less fast despite its smaller capacity and lower outright power. It is keyed into the road surface with the same assurance - and, at speed, nonchalantly shrugs off the sort of imperfections which elsewhere might cause you to lift. Its sophistication speaks to the level of technology - some of it, like the PerfoHub independent steering axis, familiar from other applications - deployed underneath. Perhaps more time (or a track comparison) would have thrown up a starker gap in talent between the two, but there's precious little daylight on a by-the-numbers B road. Ideological grievances remain (there are some more tangible issues, too, as we'll come to), but talent manifest in the Megane's chassis is unmistakable.


Moreover, it's a cheekier, livelier, more boisterous hot hatch than the Honda - in ways that expose the Civic's slightly po-faced demeanour and rather ordinary soundtrack. The Megane pops and bangs like an old F2 rally car, blares an induction roar to all inside and feels all the more willing to be adjusted on brake and throttle than the crushingly composed Civic. And even allowing for the iffy red wheel accents, it's hard to imagine anybody rejecting the Megane's styling in favour of the Civic's. It's a genuinely great looking hot hatch, a car with presence, attitude and intrigue that doesn't have to resort to lairy bodykits to achieve it.

There's a reason the Honda has been head of the class for so long, though, and why so many have fallen by the wayside in its invincible crusade. And that's because it's such a satisfying, rewarding, enjoyable car to interact with. For those who appreciate the finer details of the human-machine relationship, the Civic turns what ought to be the tinniness of a Bluetooth speaker into the intimacy of a small club gig. Sure, it's not the stripped-back immersion of 15-20 years ago - but the sedimentary layers of safety and refinement so noticeable elsewhere are made to seem wafer-thin by Honda. The manual gearbox and brake pedal honestly rival the best Porsche can offer for their reassuring weight, sumptuously slick operation and the addictive use their feel engenders. The steering is no great exemplar but it's immediately faithful, accurate and, crucially, not entirely sullied by gloopy resistance in certain drive modes that so many are. The driving position isn't far from perfect with the seat lowered from the old FK2. All the tools are at your disposal to fully exploit and enjoy an excellent chassis; these attributes won't make or break a car, though they imply a different level of thoroughness in the development and make getting the best from a car so much more intuitive.

The Megane, by contrast, makes the collaboration between driver and car less clear, fuzzier and more frustrating. Arms reach further for a wheel, feet must contort a bit for pedals, hands grab a chubbier steering wheel and an awkward gearstick. Before moving a metre, the Megane feels less innately sorted.


There may not be much in performance, though using the Megane's slightly balky gearbox and vague clutch is a square peg in a round hole against the Civic's transmission, which couldn't be any sweeter if you changed gears with a stick of Blackpool rock. They probably each carry similar cornering speed, but where the Civic steers with clarity and predictability, imparting great confidence straight away, the Megane darts and fizzes from bend to bend. Not necessarily a problem, but the spooky lightness and strange four-wheel steer behaviour makes it a difficult car to gauge sometimes. Rumours of the 4WS being dumped for the upcoming Trophy-R would substantiate this.

The brake pedal - operating what look like ostensibly similar Brembos - is very good in the Megane, yet lacking the final few per cent of immediacy and feel from the Honda. Maybe, just maybe, the throttle response of the Renault's 1.8 is a fraction more urgent than the Honda's 2.0 - certainly it suffers from less flywheel effect - but we're talking a marginal advantage. In all those key criteria looked for in a great driver's car, the cohesion and response of all the key controls, the Civic is better. Given how superlative the last Megane was in nailing those vital touch points, for this car to take a marginal regressive step is a mark against Renault.

That the Honda is the cheaper car here by £2,000 secures the Civic - you guessed it - yet another twin test victory. While a different prospect to previous Type Rs, less frenetic and with a less dogged devotion to a screaming engine, its boundless talent and supreme engineering make for a more appealing proposition than ever. It's enthralling enough to edge ahead of the Trophy in this test. Issues with the steering and slow speed ride dog the Megane in retrospect - and cloud the here-and-now moments when the car is very good indeed. Falling moderately short of Mr Invincible is hardly a poor result though, not when measurable headway has been made from the 280 Cup starting place. If nothing else, it gives us cause to be very eager indeed about the upcoming Trophy R which promises to be the kind of fine-tuned, lightweight and outright special hatchback that Dieppe has built an entire legacy on. If the 300 is a stepping stone to that high bar, then it's probably as good as it needs to be.


SPECIFICATION - RENAULT SPORT MEGANE 300 TROPHY

Engine: 1,798cc 4-cyl, turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@2,400rpm
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
Top speed: 162mph
Weight: 1,494kg (to EU, with 75kg driver)
MPG: 34.9
CO2: 183g/km
Price: £31,835 (price as standard; as tested £36,085 comprised of Liquid Yellow paint for £1,300, Bose Pack (Bose sound system with seven speakers, digital amp and sub, plus 8.7-inch touchscreen with R-Link 2), for £800, Front parking sensors and rear parking camera for £400, Visio system (Lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and auto high beam) for £250 and Recaro Sports Pack (Renault Sport Recaro seats with red stitching and Alcantara) for £1,500)

HONDA CIVIC TYPE R GT

Engine: 1,996cc, 4-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 320@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@2,500-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 5.8sec
Top speed: 169mph
Weight: 1,451kg (with fluids and driver)
MPG: 36.7 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 176g/km
Price: £33,525 (price as standard; as tested £34,050, comprised of Sonic Grey Pearl paint for £525)


























Author
Discussion

Jaaws

Original Poster:

67 posts

44 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
Blast. Yet another article reminding me I should swap my FK2 for the newer model.

Elatino1

249 posts

4 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
I'm sure these articles are written just to stir up controversy.

Even if they are slower and a smidge less sharp personally I'd still take a Megane, Focus RS or i30N and maybe even a Golf R (perhaps a closer call for me) over the FK8. They all have their own talents and USP over a civic and the FK8 is uglier than all of them.

cerb4.5lee

11,855 posts

123 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
Renault have lost their mojo again it seems then. Honda have certainly been on a roll with this Civic since they went turbocharged for sure. I've never read a poor review about it.

Butter Face

18,916 posts

103 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
PH said:
hat the Honda is the cheaper car here by £2,000 secures the Civic - you guessed it - yet another twin test victory.
SPECIFICATION - RENAULT SPORT MEGANE 300 TROPHY

Price: £31,835 (price as standard; as tested £36,085

HONDA CIVIC TYPE R GT

Price: £33,525 (price as standard; as tested £34,050,
scratchchin

Summit_Detailing

1,071 posts

136 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
The Honda sounds like it has a great drivetrain, even the interior looks decent but I couldn't live with the exterior styling.

Cheers,

Chris
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macky17

1,927 posts

132 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
End of first para: “...so why would the this one?”

Predictable result. Drove an fk8 the other day and it’s terrific even, as is mentioned, on the average tyres. A set of PS4s and it would ride and handle even better. Bright red for me I think and who cares what anyone thinks of the wing if you’re enjoying every drive more than they are?

gigglebug

1,152 posts

65 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
Elatino1 said:
I'm sure these articles are written just to stir up controversy.

Even if they are slower and a smidge less sharp personally I'd still take a Megane, Focus RS or i30N and maybe even a Golf R (perhaps a closer call for me) over the FK8. They all have their own talents and USP over a civic and the FK8 is uglier than all of them.
And what exactly is controversial about it?? The reviewer has justified why for him he thinks the Honda is the better car. The fact that you as an individual don't agree is hardly a controversy is it?

yonex

14,523 posts

111 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
It would have to be the Honda, followed a Megane yesterday and it just struck me how very bland they’ve become. No doubt both of these are hugely talented though, as car buyers we have some fantastic choices at the moment.

macky17

1,927 posts

132 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
gigglebug said:
Elatino1 said:
I'm sure these articles are written just to stir up controversy.

Even if they are slower and a smidge less sharp personally I'd still take a Megane, Focus RS or i30N and maybe even a Golf R (perhaps a closer call for me) over the FK8. They all have their own talents and USP over a civic and the FK8 is uglier than all of them.
And what exactly is controversial about it?? The reviewer has justified why for him he thinks the Honda is the better car. The fact that you as an individual don't agree is hardly a controversy is it?
beer

Matt Bird

1,078 posts

148 months

PH Reportery Lad

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
Elatino1 said:
I'm sure these articles are written just to stir up controversy.

Even if they are slower and a smidge less sharp personally I'd still take a Megane, Focus RS or i30N and maybe even a Golf R (perhaps a closer call for me) over the FK8. They all have their own talents and USP over a civic and the FK8 is uglier than all of them.
No controversy intended, Civic just very good! Old Meg might be an interesting comparison...

Matt Bird

1,078 posts

148 months

PH Reportery Lad

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
Butter Face said:
PH said:
hat the Honda is the cheaper car here by £2,000 secures the Civic - you guessed it - yet another twin test victory.
SPECIFICATION - RENAULT SPORT MEGANE 300 TROPHY

Price: £31,835 (price as standard; as tested £36,085

HONDA CIVIC TYPE R GT

Price: £33,525 (price as standard; as tested £34,050,
scratchchin
I was going off the as tested prices! Civic you need add nothing to, but I suspect Megane might be less appealing without Recaros, paint and stereo upgrade.


Matt

charltjr

3,570 posts

138 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
macky17 said:
End of first para: “...so why would the this one?”

Predictable result. Drove an fk8 the other day and it’s terrific even, as is mentioned, on the average tyres. A set of PS4s and it would ride and handle even better. Bright red for me I think and who cares what anyone thinks of the wing if you’re enjoying every drive more than they are?
I suspect a lot of people don’t realise how good the Contisport 6 actually is. Reviews put it toe to toe with the PS4S - some reviews have it as better than the Michelin some say it’s worse so it’s clearly very application specific. A set of the non-S PS4 would be a downgrade.

You’re looking at a Cup tyre (with the associated compromises in poor conditions) to get much better.

It’s very disappointing that PH didn’t bother to research the tyre more thoroughly before labelling it as a relatively average tyre.

renmure

2,914 posts

167 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
macky17 said:
. Bright red for me I think and who cares what anyone thinks of the wing if you’re enjoying every drive more than they are?
Indeed biggrin



Redlake27

2,237 posts

187 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
The Type R is close to my ideal car. Practical, engaging, ability to switch between plush and hardcore, decent residuals .

But I wish they made a more discreet version. Just like Porsche’s Touring version of the GT3.

Alex

9,735 posts

227 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
charltjr said:
I suspect a lot of people don’t realise how good the Contisport 6 actually is. Reviews put it toe to toe with the PS4S - some reviews have it as better than the Michelin some say it’s worse so it’s clearly very application specific. A set of the non-S PS4 would be a downgrade.

You’re looking at a Cup tyre (with the associated compromises in poor conditions) to get much better.

It’s very disappointing that PH didn’t bother to research the tyre more thoroughly before labelling it as a relatively average tyre.
I agree. The Contisport 6 is a superb tyre.

TheDrBrian

2,861 posts

165 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
macky17 said:
End of first para: “...so why would the this one?”

Predictable result. Drove an fk8 the other day and it’s terrific even, as is mentioned, on the average tyres. A set of PS4s and it would ride and handle even better. Bright red for me I think and who cares what anyone thinks of the wing if you’re enjoying every drive more than they are?
I think people are more concerned with the fake vents.

macky17

1,927 posts

132 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
charltjr said:
macky17 said:
End of first para: “...so why would the this one?”

Predictable result. Drove an fk8 the other day and it’s terrific even, as is mentioned, on the average tyres. A set of PS4s and it would ride and handle even better. Bright red for me I think and who cares what anyone thinks of the wing if you’re enjoying every drive more than they are?
I suspect a lot of people don’t realise how good the Contisport 6 actually is. Reviews put it toe to toe with the PS4S - some reviews have it as better than the Michelin some say it’s worse so it’s clearly very application specific. A set of the non-S PS4 would be a downgrade.

You’re looking at a Cup tyre (with the associated compromises in poor conditions) to get much better.

It’s very disappointing that PH didn’t bother to research the tyre more thoroughly before labelling it as a relatively average tyre.
Fair enough. I've only driven an fk8 once and heaven knows what the tyre pressures were set to. To me the ride felt niggly and it broke traction a couple of times in the dry - I expect on PS4S tyres (which is what I meant, I have them on my golf R) it would be better. I have much greater experience of sport contact 5s and those suck but I'm guessing the 6s are better.

moonigan

1,353 posts

184 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
Matt Bird said:
I was going off the as tested prices! Civic you need add nothing to, but I suspect Megane might be less appealing without Recaros, paint and stereo upgrade.


Matt
The standard seats on the Megane are good but yes the Recaros and paint would be the only things I would choose. That said the real world discounted prices would make the Megane a cheaper option. I really like both cars and I would agree the Honda just edges the Megane on driving but having just joined the 50+ brigade I don't think I could live with the looks of the Honda and everyone around me agrees. I also find the profile of the tyres on the Honda too kerb/pothole friendly. That said I found the Megane Trophy a little too civilised so have opted for the Trophy R biggrin

philmots

4,507 posts

203 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
Megane out of these 2 for me.

Montybaber

66 posts

5 months

Saturday 29th June
quotequote all
Incredible really that after quite a long time in production the FK8 is still getting rave reviews and winning road tests etc

Its testament to its abilities that people have to try so hard to find fault (fake events, who cares?) Looks are subjective and it could never be accused of being boring/blending in

Thinking about it the cars that people remember and rave about years later are usually the ones that break the mould

Hot hatches will get quicker, more comfortable, more extreme, more practical etc but I honestly believe the perfect hot hatch should do everything, the Civic is the top of the game for that reason

I am lucky that I like its mad design, I detest boring hot hatches, I have one in CW and adore it, I plan to keep it forever it's that good!