Renault takes on the Focus RS and Civic Type R with technology. Can it succeed?
This, boys and girls, is the new RenaultSport Megane. Okay, it’s covered in camouflage. But it’s our best look yet at the latest generation of the hardest cored, most driver focused hot hatch of them all.
And the big news is that it will have four-wheel steering. As standard. This is a first for the hot hatch category, and the closest we’ve got to official confirmation that the Megane will stay front-wheel drive. It’s highly unlikely Renault would develop four-wheel drive, too.
“RenaultSport engineers have specifically calibrated the system to take the car’s performance to new limits,” we’re told. Given the system’s mixed results in the Megane GT, a recalibration is welcome news.
Renault has also confirmed the new RS Megane will get both manual and paddleshift gearboxes. As in most RenaultSport products past, there will also be Sport and Cup chassis options, the latter with a harder and more focused suspension setup than the former. You should be able to mix either gearbox with either chassis, too. Manual and Cup, please…
Beyond that, Renault’s telling us nothing. Power wise, expect around 300bhp from a four-cylinder turbo engine. While the outgoing Megane RS uses a 2-litre turbo, logic suggests the new Alpine’s 1.8-litre might be used here, but in a higher state of tune. Again, we suspect Renault wouldn’t develop a new 2-litre simultaneously with the Alpine’s 1.8.
The camouflaged RS Megane initially made its debut in the lead up to the Monaco Grand Prix, being driven around the circuit – like Alpine, Clio and Twingo concepts before it – by Renault F1 driver Nico Hülkenberg. We’ve now been shown pictures of the car testing both at Renault’s proving ground and in snowier regions.
While it’s hardly an ideal look at the car’s styling, we can surmise it’s notably more squat and serious than a regular Renault Megane hatch, and its rear arches look particularly swollen. The snazzy lights from the Clio RS16 have also made an appearance. While they look like extravagent fog lights, they actually do full beam alongside the bigger units. This will be one bright hot hatch.
We’ll see it in full in early September, while sales begin in spring 2018. Like what you’re seeing and hearing so far? Reckon this can upset the Focus RS, Golf R and new Civic Type R?