Renault has come up with the French answer to the Focus RS: this scorching 225bhp Mégane Renault Sport, which will land in British showrooms for under £20,000 next March.
The turbocharged 2.0-litre threatens RS-rivalling performance with a quoted 0-62mph time of 6.5sec — just 0.1sec adrift of Ford’s £20,100 RS. The standing kilometre is completed in 26.7sec, half a second shy of the Ford, but Renault has yet to reveal the Mégane’s top speed.
Unlike its rivals, Renault will offer the Mégane as a practical five-door as well as the sportier three-door. However, the styling is decidely lukewarm compared with aggressive offerings from VW, Honda and Ford.
Power comes from a bigger turbo version of the 2.0T engine in the Laguna. Power is boosted by a hefty 60bhp, but impressively CO2 output only goes up 3g/km to 206g/km – equivalent to around 32mpg. Maximum torque stands at 225lb ft, with 90 per cent of the peak available between 2000rpm and 6000 rpm. Drive is transmitted to the 18-inch front wheels via a six-speed ’box.
The Mégane Renault Sport will attempt to keep all this twist under control with a new ESP electronic stability and traction control that includes what Renault calls "understeer control".
"Spring and damper rates have been tuned to combine driving dynamics and comfort," said an official. The steering is revised, too, and four-piston front calipers squeeze onto 312mm vented front discs.