CAR DOCTOR | TRENDING
Lucas: Help me to settle a bet: Is the Renault Megane Trophy 300 the best hot hatch?
Justus: I hope you don’t have a lot of money riding on this, because it’s akin to asking who the best female music artist is. In pop, it might be Lady Gaga, whereas in classical R&B, Aretha Franklin. Hot hatches, a niche that once encompassed just the VW Golf GTI, have given rise to a spectrum that stretches from the Suzuki Swift Sport (R327 900) to the Mercedes-AMG A45 S (R1.11 million). Let’s limit it to hot hatches in the Trophy 300’s price range, before we get to what makes the Trophy 300 a tough contender.
With prices of R774 900 for the manual and R799 900 for the automatic, the Renault Megane RS 300 Trophy competes with big hitters: the Golf GTI TCR (R669 000), Hyundai i30 N (R679 900), Golf R (R727 400), Honda Civic Type (R741 900), Audi S3 quattro (R772 190), BMW M135i xDrive (R773 800) and Mercedes-AMG A35 hatch 4Matic (R850 000).
Compared with the gentrified and easy-to-drive Audis and BMWs, the Renault is a wild thing that demands much involvement from the driver. In contrast to the German hatches, the Megane’s engine power is relayed to the front wheels only. This means they have to cope with steering and much torque. The Audi S3 and Golf R each manage this well by relaying some of the power to the rear wheels. BMW is still learning this art.
The Honda R, Hyundai N and GTI TCR also power the front wheels only, but, through solid engineering, make it easier for the driver to steer while 221kW of power and 400Nm of torque propel the car. However, the Trophy 300 can steer its rear wheels, has a special front differential (called an LSD) to improve cornering and has a sexy suede-lined interior. It might be a handful, but it should be more fun on a race track than many of its rivals, including the Audi and BMW.
Kagiso: I need help regarding the Haval brand. I bought my car new in March last year. Just before it reached 7 000km, it started to behave strangely. Since then, I’ve been in and out of Haval workshops with the same problem. As the car gains more kilometers, the problems get worse.
Haval SA responds: The customer has had seven cases with Haval customer care in the past six months. The customer does not make bookings at any of our Haval dealers, but pops in on a Friday afternoon to request assistance.
Previously, the customer has not made his vehicle available for the dealers to diagnose the vehicle or any possible issue relating to his complaint. The customer has now made his vehicle available at Haval Hatfield. The vehicle was dropped off on August 29 and the dealer is busy diagnosing the vehicle at this time.
Itumeleng: I need an SUV that’s light on fuel, with space for six people. My budget is R5 500 per month.
Justus: Test-drive the Honda BR-V 1.5 Trend Manual, which is priced at R274 400, or about R5 500 a month. It can transport seven people and has enough luggage space to fit two or three weekend bags in the back, even when each seat is occupied.
Honda has recently improved the BR-V by adding more insulation material in the bodywork to dampen road noise.
It’s also easy to drive. The manual gearbox has a light and smooth action, and the clutch does not require premier-league leg muscles. Speaking of muscles, the BR-V retains its 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, with decent power delivery (88kW and 145Nm) and low petrol consumption. On dirt roads, the BR-V displayed good road holding, even at a swift pace, as well as driving comfort on worn roads. There are only two air bags in the cabin – for the driver and front passenger. If this is a concern, look for a used Hyundai Santa Fe or Kia Sorento.
The Honda BR-V has a generous warranty of five years or 200 000km and the service plan is valid for four years or 60 000km.
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