Renault is readying a high-performance version of the new Megane and we’ve caught the hot hatch testing just days after the regular hatchback and coupe’s debut at last week’s Paris motor show.
The new Megane five-door rolls into dealerships in November 2008 and the three-door coupe in January 2009 – but we’ve scooped the Renaultsport version a full year before it hits showrooms in September 2009.
You won’t see the three-door-only Renaultsport version officially until the Geneva motor show in March 2009, but here’s the full lowdown on what CAR knows about the French hot hatchback.
Renaultsport Megane: the new spy photos
Caught on test near the Nurburgring in Germany, this is the best sighting yet of what is likely to become Renault’s biggest-selling hot hatch.
This isn’t the finished item, mind. That front bumper and spoiler belongs to the regular three-door Megane and we can expect the finished Renaultsport to have what is typically called in the industry ‘a more aggressive’ nose. That means a snout punctuated – brutally – by more and bigger air intakes and hugging the ground thanks to a more pronounced spoiler.
How do we know this is the Renaultsport Megane?
Insiders confirm this is the real McCoy. Which makes sense, as cooking versions wouldn’t warrant extensive testing at the Nordschleife circuit.
The size of the front brake discs also suggests this is the high-performance version, as does the central-exit exhaust pipe at the rear.
Click ‘Next’ to read the full technical story on the Renaultsport Megane (2009)
What engine does the Renaultsport Megane pack?
We hear there will be an evolution of the current R26’s engine in the new 2009 Megane hot hatch. So expect a 2.0-litre turbo petrol, tuned to produce somewhere north of 230bhp.
Renault has arguably wrestled the hot hatch crown from its domestic rival Peugeot and is now adept at producing various iterations of its pocket rockets, such as the Trophy, Cup and R26.R. Expect a similar run of special editions with the newcomer, although not from launch. Such crazy badges will act as the late-life Prozac to keep the range zipping along once the new-car sheen has worn off.
What else do we know about the hot Megane?
Also planned in the future is a diesel Renaultsport Megane, in the spirit of today’s 175bhp dCi Megane. All will be front-wheel drive, and the petrol models will use a clever diff to prevent all the torque causing a sacré bleu moment mid-bend.
Regular versions of the new Megane range weigh an admirable 8kg on average less than the outgoing car, model by model. Our sources suggest weight saving could be increased on the Renaultsport model, boosting performance, economy and handling ability.
How much will the Renaultsport Megane cost?
Too early to say, really. But we’d tip a price around £20,500, undercutting rivals like the new VW Golf GTI and more powerful Ford Focus RS.
Fifteen percent of current Megane sales are the three-door, but Renault expects that to rise to around a fifth with the more distinct, new-generation Coupe.
And the Renaultsport models are very popular. An impressive 20 percent of all three-door Sport Hatch Meganes wear the Renaultsport badge: 225, 230 R26 and dCi 175.
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