This modified Megane, spied testing at the Nordschleife, is the best proof yet that Renaultsport is ramping its hottest hatch up a notch in preparation for the next-gen Focus RS’s arrival.
The Megane 250 has been one of the current Focus’s toughest rivals, even though it gives away around 50bhp to the RS.
Renaultsport is likely to attempt to narrow that gap with the revised model. Sources say the firm’s 2.0-litre powerplant could yield considerably more power; that could mean as much as 300bhp, enough to rival the Focus and the next-gen Astra VXR, which is likely to have a similar figure.
The Mégane’s chassis is likely to receive only minor tweaks for the hotter model. Its mechanical limited-slip differential — a part originally sourced from Nissan’s US line-up — is said to have the capacity to cope with greater power, even at its most aggressive setting.
The car’s styling is also likely to be tweaked only mildly. But the revised front bumper on this test hack does hint at the extra cooling for the brakes and engine that will need to be factored into the design.
The hotter Mégane will be one of the first modern Renaultsport models not to be created under the guidance of British engineer Steve Marvin.
Marvin, the technical director credited with some of the best hot hatches of the past decade, has been moved from the performance division to Renault’s van department.
As with the current 250, the new car will be built on the main Mégane production line in Palencia, Spain. Like Ford, Renault switched production of its rapid production cars from a specialised plant — it its case, the former Alpine factory in Dieppe — to the regular line in a bid to make the hot cars more profitable.
An ultra-hardcore, lightweight version of the car is possible, using plastic windows and selected carbonfibre panels.
But as with the R26R variant of the previous-gen Mégane, it’s likely that Renault would choose to roll out such a model at the end of the car’s lifecycle — and in very limited numbers, given the R26R’s hardcore appeal.
The current-generation three-door Mégane is likely to be around until at least 2013.