The new Renault Mégane Renault Sport can now be ordered in the UK, with prices for the 276bhp hot hatch starting at £27,495 and first deliveries due in July.
That price places the new performance five-door, which has a 1.8-litre petrol engine producing 276bhp and 288lb ft, £500 below the Hyundai i30N in its 271bhp Performance spec. It also makes the Mégane RS £3500 cheaper than the 316bhp Honda Civic Type R. The Ford Focus RS and new Seat Leon Cupra R both have more than 300bhp but are more expensive to buy.
As a signal of the Mégane RS's driver focus, buyers who order their car in May are also offered a free upgrade to the Cup chassis, which will become a £1500 option from next month.
Buyers wanting the optional EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox (a six-speed manual is standard) will need to pay £29,195 for their Mégane RS.
Renault Sport says its new model driver-focused that it more than makes up its 40bhp power deficit to the Civic Type R with its trick four-wheel steering system.
This '4Control' technology is claimed to boost the agility and stability of the car.
“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, differentials, steering and more.”
The system allows the rear wheels to turn up to 2.7 degrees, improving the car's turning radius at low speeds and delivering greater agility and improved 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 warm Mégane GT, although it has been retuned for the Mégane RS.
Renault has confirmed that the RS will hit 0-62mph in 5.8sec and that its top speed is 158mph in manual guise, with the automatic topping out at 155mph. The engine's peak torque is available from 2400 to 5000rpm, while peak power arrives at 6000rpm. The unit’s rev limit is 7000rpm.
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 A110 sports car, but the increased power has been achieved primarily through the use of a different turbocharger and cylinder head, the latter of which was developed in conjunction with the Renault Sport 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."