This is the new Renault Megane Renault Sport
The RS will achieve a sub-six-second 0-62mph time
Comfort, Normal, Sport and Race modes are available
The new Renault Mégane Renault Sport will be powered by a 1.8-litre engine producing 276bhp and 288lb ft – but its maker says any performance deficit to rivals is more than compensated for by the car’s four-wheel steering system.
The 4Control technology is claimed to boost the agility and stability of the car, whose competitors include the Honda Civic Type R, Ford Focus RS and new Seat Leon Cupra R, all of which have more than 300bhp.
“Fitting four-wheel steering was the biggest decision we had to make,” said Renault Sport chief Patrice Ratti.
“We did a lot of studies and computer simulations and then put [the system] on the previous-generation [Mégane RS] to create a mule and assess what was possible.
“What became clear was that we had two choices: to make a car without it and to make incremental improvements in every area over what had gone before, or to make the car with it and to make a step change in terms of improvements. The benefits go across every area of the car’s dynamics – we have been able to rework the dampers, diffs, steering and more.”
The four-wheel steering system, which allows the rear wheels to turn up to 2.7 degrees, improves the Mégane RS’s turning radius at low speeds, delivers greater all-round agility and improves stability at higher speeds. The added stability, in turn, allows for the use of a smaller and therefore more responsive steering ratio. It also mimics some of the role of the anti-roll bars, allowing for a different, more rear-biased chassis set-up. The system is already on sale with the Mégane GT, although it has been retuned for the Mégane RS.
Renault has confirmed that the RS will hit 0-62mph in less than six seconds but has not revealed any other performance or pricing figures, beyond stressing the engine’s flexibility, with peak torque available from 2400 to 5000rpm. Peak power arrives at 6000rpm. That suggests its acceleration will be on a par with its rivals’ but not eclipse them. Ratti said: “At no point has the team sacrificed fun – which means agility – for top speed. That is never our goal.”
The engine is derived from the 1798cc, aluminium-block unit used in the new Alpine sports car, but the increased power has been achieved primarily through the use of a different turbo and cylinder head, the latter of which was developed in conjunction with the Renault Formula 1 team.
Ratti said: “The F1 team’s expertise in developing high-performance parts quickly is amazing – it achieved in one week what would have taken us five or six weeks because of its simulation know-how.” The unit’s rev limit is 7000rpm.
The new Mégane RS will also be offered with a choice of a Sport or Cup chassis and an automatic EDC gearbox or a six-speed manual. Most buyers are expected to specify either the most focused Cup and manual gearbox combination or the broader abilities of the Sport/EDC pairing. As such, the car has been optimised to those choices. The manual gearbox will use the same, proven gearset from the previous-generation car, while the EDC unit has been completely overhauled.
Additionally, the Sport chassis will be sold with 18-inch 235 profile wheels and the Cup with 19-inch 245 wheels as standard, with lightweight alloys available as a further option on the larger wheel, saving 1.8kg each and improving cooling. Buyers can choose either wheel size but the car’s set-up has been optimised on the standard one. The Cup car will feature a full, mechanical limited-slip differential set-up to transfer power between wheels, while the Sport chassis will use an electronic system to employ the brakes to slow a spinning wheel. An electronic LSD system was considered for the Cup car but deemed “too complex”. A manual handbrake will be standard for all cars.
Ratti said: “The sales split globally will be 50/50 Sport and Cup, but that will vary hugely between regions.” He highlighted that European buyers favour the more performance-focused set-up, while buyers in Asia – including Japan, Renault Sport’s fifth- biggest market, just behind the UK – favour a softer set-up and automatic gearbox.
All Mégane RSs will have four driving modes: Comfort, Normal, Sport and Race. In the latter setting on the Cup car, the stability control system will be completely switched off, although the electronic braking system will remain on with the Sport chassis.
Ratti also confirmed a Trophy version of the Mégane RS will be developed with 296bhp and 295lb ft, in the vein of the Trophy and R26R models launched with the previous-generation car. It'll retain the manual and EDC gearbox choices of the regular car, while using the Cup chassis and 19in wheels bolted to lighter aluminium wheel hubs. An assault on the Nürburgring record for front-wheel-drive cars is expected to happen with the Trophy, possibly in late 2018.
“As long as we can make the car faster and still comply with the regulations, then we will try to break some records,” confirmed Ratti. “However, as I keep saying, I would never swap pleasure for speed – we have targets we must achieve. But an RS Trophy car is already looking very interesting.”
Sales of the Mégane RS will begin in spring next year, with pricing expected to begin around £30,000.
The core styling team was carried over from the mainstream Mégane project and focused on areas that could complement engineering goals. The front and back tracks are respectively 60mm and 45mm wider than the standard Mégane’s, the arches are blistered, with air vents at the rear, and a rear diffuser is fitted. The rear spoiler is narrower for a sportier look and the front foglights are aligned to mimic a chequered flag.
A new logo
The rear of the car doesn’t carry the Renault name, nor the RS flag logo of yesteryear. In comes a new double diamond insignia, inspired by the logo that adorned the Gordini R12’s steering wheel in the 1970s.
Renault Sport engineers are proud of the performance they’ve extracted from the 1.8-litre unit, even if it doesn’t bust the headline-grabbing 300bhp-plus figures of rivals. They say that 153bhp per litre and 160lb ft per litre are punchy enough, and reckon the gain in response and earlier peak delivery times outweighs the bigger numbers.
The central exhaust signifies the car’s race-inspired looks. The noise from the exhausts can also be pumped into the cabin to amplify the turbocharged engine’s note, although this feature can also be switched off. Renault promises it will bang and crackle during shifts and lift-off too.
Renault Sport has a history of vibrant launch colours, most notably in yellows. This time, the choice is called Volcanic Orange and is described as “complementary” to previous yellows. It took one-and-a-half years to develop and will come at a modest price premium.