► All-new hot Megane revealed
► Official debut at Frankfurt motor show
► Choice of manual or paddleshift ’box
Say hello to Renault’s all-new Megane Renault Sport: the latest entry in one of the most celebrated hot hatch bloodlines of recent years. There’s no small amount of pressure on its wide-arched shoulders – its predecessor was one of the most exciting front-wheel-drive cars of all time. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest hot Megane.
Our full A-Z Frankfurt motor show 2017 preview
Two versions: regular Megane RS and RS Trophy
The standard Megane RS will have 276bhp and go on sale before the end of 2017. But wait: the faster, more focused Megane RS Trophy version available early in 2018 will have 296bhp and the stiffer Cup chassis option as standard.
The Trophy will also feature a mechanical limited-slip differential, while the regular car will use the brakes to slow the inside wheel to mimic a similar effect.
‘Under 6.0sec’ and ‘over 155mph’
‘We still have some months of development remaining, and so we don’t yet have final acceleration and top-speed figures,’ project manager Grégoire Ginet told CAR.
However, he acknowledges top speed will be more than 250kph (155mph) and 0-62mph will be less than six seconds.
Choice of suspension settings: standard Sport or optional Cup chassis
As in previous Renault Sport models, customers can choose from two chassis (for which read suspension) set-ups: Sport and Cup.
The standard Sport set-up prioritises ride-comfort and is engineered to be the best fit for most regular drivers, while the more uncompromising Cup option is for hardy types and trackday fiends.
The Cup option is 10% stiffer, and fitted to the RS Trophy model by default.
Unlike the fully independent, actively damped Honda Civic Type R, the Megane uses torsion-beam rear suspension, and passive dampers all round. Up front there’s torque-steer-calming dual-axis suspension, completely redesigned compared with the previous Megane RS’s front end.
This is a wide car: the front track is 60mm broader than the standard Megane, and the rear has been widened by 45mm. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, 19s an option, in black or grey. The Trophy will get its own specific 19-inch design.
Engine: as seen in Alpine, with added F1 tech
This is the same 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo as seen in the Alpine A110, called the TCe280. It’ll also appear in the Renault Espace in the future, albeit in detuned form.
In the Megane RS it generates 276bhp in the regular RS, and around 296bhp in the Trophy version. That’s an impressive specific power output in excess of 150bhp per litre, helped by a cylinder head designed by Renault’s F1 engine builders (genuinely). It revs to 7000rpm.
Choice of manual and auto gearboxes
Both manual and automatic dual-clutch gearboxes will be available, unlike the current-gen Clio RS, available as an auto only.
The manual ’box is exactly the same one as in the previous-gen Megane RS. Transmission engineer Sebastien Norie told CAR: ‘We had good feedback from customers that the ratios were well suited to track days and also for the road. It’s a simple gearbox, reliable, so we decided to keep it.’
There won’t be automatic rev-matching software, as per the Nissan 370Z and the latest Civic Type R.‘We decided for the Megane we don’t need it. Clients say they want a simpler car and to do the heel-and-to themselves,’ Norie said.
As for the dual-clutch auto option, it’s a new gearset, designed to take 295lb ft of torque ‘and more in the future.’
Multiple downshift mode allows drivers to hold the left paddle and have it downshift automatically to the appropriate gear, if desired, while they concentrate on braking as hard as possible.
Launch control is also available in auto models.
And a manual handbrake option!
While auto cars will feature an electronic handbrake, manual cars will be available with a good old-fashioned lever. Noire again: ‘It’s much more fun. The drivers of our RS cars like to be able to tweak a handbrake into corners.’
Front-wheel drive, not all-wheel drive
Unlike the Ford Focus RS and VW Golf R, the new Megane RS is front-wheel-drive.
‘We have four-wheel-drive systems in the group [at partner company Nissan], and at one point we considered it could be interesting, but the technology isn’t ready for sports cars yet,’ chassis engineer Antoine Frey told CAR.
Like the GT version of the regular Megane, ‘4Control’ rear-wheel steering will be fitted as standard. An electromagnetic actuator swivels the rear wheels subtly in the same direction as the fronts to aid cornering stability at high speeds, and in the opposite direction to enhance agility at low speeds – below 37mph normally, but at higher speeds in Race mode.
‘It’s in a natural way,’ chassis engineer Antoine Frey told us. ‘What we want is that you get out of the car and say “I don’t feel it.”’
Renault Sport’s engineers say the system has enabled them to reduce body roll as well as influence the car’s rate of yaw. ‘I think we have one of the flattest cars on the market – we decreased the roll by 10% compared with the old car. If we tried to do that with anti-roll bars, the front end would be completely overloaded and comfort would suffer.’
‘The front and rear arches are designed to look as if this car has been designed from the first breath,’ design director Éric Diemert told CAR. By which he means that they’re smoothly integrated with the surrounding bodywork, rather than blistered add-ons.
The chequered flag-aping RS Vision light clusters combine daytime running lights, fog lights and cornering lights. They can also contribute to a high-performance full beam mode – ‘it’s like the addition of rally spotlights,’ project manager Grégoire Ginet told us.
An extractor vent on the trailing edge of the front arches reduces heat and pressure build-up, and shows just how much wider than the standard Megane the RS is.
Despite its lack of outlandish spoilers, the body shape does generate negative lift: ‘Stability at high speed was one of our main objectives,’ according to performance engineer Fabien Berthomieu.
The diffuser starts around the rear axle, and although the vents either side of the rear bumper are actually false, their shape helps channel airflow around the sides of the bumper.
Four driving modes
Comfort (focusing on fuel efficiency), Natural, Sport and Race. Plus there’ll be a custom-everything mix-’n’-match mode.
Race means no driver aids. In the auto gearbox version, you can have fully automatic shifts in Race, or switch to a fully manual setting – useful for track days.
Watch Renault F1 driver Nico Hülkenberg driving a lightly camouflaged prototype Megane RS very quickly in the video below.
Click here for our review of the previous RS Megane