Knights of Renn [COTY2015] : Porsche 911 GT3 RS & Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy-R Drive [review]

By davidkhoo, 01 January 2016

Track-honed, race-ready road-cars embody the best any brand has to offer, and sit nearer the top of the model heap, much like how the Jedi masters lord it over padawans.

The uninformed masses will wonder why owners of such special machines are prepared to pay so much more for so much less, but the cognoscenti recognises and appreciates the commitment of such owners by indulging in such rarefied models.

And in case you're wondering, by 'less', we're talking about less weight, less frippery, less compromise and for sure, less luxe – which is the only way to enjoy such cars.

Like many such esoteric collectibles, it's never about the sense of the cents, but the emotional appeal of the rarity factor, as well as the OCD and anal-retentive blood, sweat and tears that go into the creation of such cars.

Thanks to its cult car status, the GT3 RS needs little introduction, but the matching white Renault isn't just another Megane R.S. 275 – it's the most hardcore one of them all, the Trophy-R.

In case you're keeping score, there are less than ten of the GT3 RS in Singapore and just one of the Renault, but of course, there's far more to these cars than just the rarity factor.

The Type 991 GT3 RS (and GT3) met with rabble-rousing when Porsche announced they would be PDK-only, since "everybody knows 'serious' driving cars need to be stick-shift". We've had the fortune of driving and enjoying a mix of air-cooled and type 997 RSes, and loved working the manual shifts during hard driving – it just added to the whole euphoria of giving such cars a hearty workout.

(Click HERE for our shakedown of the 991.1 GT3 RS)

Although our GT3 experience was around the track, our encounter with the GT3 RS was on German b-roads. Over 80km of sinuous German B-roads to be exact! Both body-control and responses are lightsaber-keen, as it's always ready to react to helm inputs, while active rear steer helps overcome the challenge of bending a rear-engine/rear-drive sportscar to one's will.

Now, we're all for manual transmissions if the engine's power band is easy to tap into (like the MX-5 for instance), but we realise the GT3 RS's nat-asp 4.0-litre delivers such a fast and furious punch with every gear that we wouldn't have been able to keep up our shift pace to complement its explosive power delivery corner after successive corner.

In contrast, the PDK's rapid-fire shifts were more than capable of keeping up with the screaming engine, yet was perfectly tractable to muddle around in town traffic as well.

Although the 'RS' (RennSport or Race Sport) moniker can be traced back to the 1973/4 Carrera RS 2.7, the GT3 RS racing homologation model appeared only with the type 996 Mk2 (the GT3 first appeared with the type 996 to create an evocative, visible link between the brand's motorsports series and its road cars).

(Click HERE to read our 911 RS retrospective)

This type 991 GT3 RS's ties between road and track are blurred even further, as if the visual spectacle of its wide-body (from the Turbo models), ginormous GT wing and motorsports-derived louvres in the front carbonfibre wings aren't clear enough an indication.

Like all such lean mean machines (such as the Trophy-R), the GT3 RS combines an extreme weight-loss programme with incisive dynamics and intergalactic pace – after all, you'll want to dispatch the straights as quick as possible so you can get back to the meat of the matter, the corners!

The GT3 RS features a raft of weight-savings measures with the use of advanced materials: magnesium roof, CFRP front lid and front wings, rear lid and rear wing, as well as polycarbonate rear and side windows.

We have a special weakness for Renault hot-hatches ever since the 5 GT Turbo all through to the Williams the 172 and the V6. Moreover, Renaultsport's accomplishment with the humble torsion beam rear suspension is nothing short of miraculous; the suppleness in ride comfort yet sublime control in terms of dynamics is all the more remarkable when you consider how some brands still can't get it right with front and rear independent suspension.

The lightweight Megane Renaultsport 275 Trophy-R is an even more stripped-out version of the Megane R.S. 275 that sees 100kg shed from the 'regular' 275's 1381kg, which we should add is no slouch to begin with.

Chief among the losses include the rear seats, rear wiper and sound insulation material – the last means you hear every pitter-patter of stone bits and gravel on the road.

However, the Trophy-R also includes bespoke lightweight equipment from partners such as Recaro for the bucket seats, Speedline for the 19-inch Turini alloy rims, Michelin for the Pilot Cup Sport 2 tyres, Ohlins for the adjustable suspension and Allevard composite springs and Akrapovic for the titanium exhaust system.

The owner of this car has specified the optional "Nürburgring Package", which includes a Sabelt six-point harness kit, a "Performance" braking kit that is lighter, yet features larger rotors and a lithium-ion racing battery.

In regular mode, the engine's performance is capped at 250hp, but engaging the R.S. mode liberates the extra 25 horses, as well as lowers the inhibitive machinations of the traction control system.

Pedal to metal, there’s a noticeably raw edge to the Trophy-R that always serves as reminder you’re in something special – it’s fast but not clinical and certainly never anonymous; you’re challenged to work for brisk progress not just prod-and-go.

There’s a taut no-nonsense feel to the sharp steering, brake and balance especially when you’re pressing hard – a natural body-rotation and aggressive LSD are engineered into the Trophy-R to help the front-drive hatch turn-in – while the Akrapovic bellows out a strident call on the fly, as it pops, spits and snarls like Kingdom Come on the downshifts.

Renault makes a big deal of the sub-8 seconds Nordschleife blitz (like the silly tit-for-tat battle it was waging with the Civic Type R), but 'Ring times have become so abstract we feel it's more for bar-bragging rights these days.

In the same vein as the R26.R and every other such focused machine, the Trophy-R craves not such attention, because the result of the sum of its parts is far greater than any paper qualification. Like the GT3 RS, the Trophy-R is the result of single-minded dedication to track purpose, and we’re huge suckers for these one-track minds...

Renault Megane Renaultsport 275 Trophy-R
Engine: 1998cc, inline4, turbo
Power/rpm: 275hp/5500rpm
Torque/rpm: 360Nm/3000-5000rpm
Transmission: 6spd manual
0-100km/h: 5.8secs
Top speed: 255km/h
Kerbweight: 1297kg
Fuel consumption: 7.5l/100km
CO2: 174g/km

Porsche 911 GT3 RS
Engine: 3996cc, flat6
Power/rpm: 500hp/8250rpm
Torque/rpm: 460Nm/6250rpm
Transmission: 7spd PDK
0-100km/h: 3.3secs
Top speed: 310km/h
Kerbweight: 1420kg
Fuel consumption: 12.7l/100km
CO2: 296g/km

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