Renault is looking to take back its crown as king of the hot hatchback, with a new Renault Sport Megane.
Due to go on sale in early 2018, the new Megane RS is the most powerful ever, but remains front-wheel drive.
The heart of the new car is a turbocharged, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine. This features a redesigned cylinder head, thanks to Renault Sport Racing F1, and a high capacity, dual-intake air filter. In standard form, this produces 275hp at 6,000rpm, and 288lbft from 2,400rpm. Despite having over 150hp/liter, this car rates at 41mpg (34mpg US) NEDC.
You can specify one of two six-speed transmissions. The first is a regular manual, but a paddle-operated EDC auto is also available. This latter unit includes a rapid sequential downshift function and launch control.
To make sure the front wheels get the power down rather than churning it away in smoky understeer, Renault Sport has revised the PerfoHub front suspension. A Cup version of the car also gets a Torsen limited slip differential. However, Renault has found an interesting alternative way of curing understeer.
It’s a system that it calls 4CONTROL. Like the 202hp Megane GT, launched in 2016, the RS totes a four-wheel steering system. It turns against the front wheels at low speed, allowing it to be more nimble, while turning with them at high speed for stability.
Indeed the RS is similar to the GT, but with a number of key differences (aside from the engine). It’s wider front and rear, by about two inches, and features a wider intake for additional cooling. It also features revised styling, including a model-specific front grille. There’s a functional diffuser at the rear, and the car is available in a new, unique body color called “Volcanic Orange”.
For the social media addict, Renault also includes RS Monitor. This displays the driver’s performance in real time and allows for the driver to connect a camera (or smartphone) to film their drive. They can analyse their performance via telemetry data and share it on social media — or through the RS Replay feature of the Renault Sport website.
Later in 2018, Renault will make an enhanced version of the car available. Dubbed “Trophy”, this will pack another 20hp, for 300hp and 295lbft in total. This is fitted with the Cup chassis and 19-inch wheels as standard — and doubtless we’ll see a Nürburgring lap time from it before too much longer…