Renault will attempt a sub-eight minute Nürburgring lap time in June with this hotter version of the Renaultsport Mégane 265.
This test mule was one of two caught performance testing at the Nürburgring late last week, suggesting Renault is mulling over different set-ups for the car which will bid to snatch back the lap record for a front-wheel-drive production car from Seat and its Leon Cupra 280 model.
The Leon set a new fastest time on the Nordschleife circuit of 7m58.4s last month, with an average speed of 96.8mph.
Renault has twice before held this record, most recently with the Mégane 265 at 8m7.97s, and it is looking to give the current Mégane one last hurrah before an all-new model is launched next year.
A photo posted on Renault's Facebook page last week revealed an 'Under 8' graphic, first hinting at the project. A second picture revealed the rear of a Renaultsport car with a performance exhaust system provided by Slovenian manufacturer Akrapovič.
These spy images of the mule, which did around 80 per cent of the testing at the Nürburgring last week – alongside a white model – reveal a lowered chassis, new alloy wheels, and larger brakes.
Renault named Michelin and Ohlins alongside Akrapovič in being involved in the Under 8 project, suggesting bespoke tyres, an overhauled suspension system and a performance exhaust are the chief changes to shave the more than 10.0sec needed off the Mégane 265's lap time to snatch the record back from Seat.
Should all go to plan, the 'Ring record Mégane is expected to make production in the summer as a run-out edition for the current Mégane. A similar tactic was used by Renault with the previous RS Mégane and the R26 version.
The R26 also spawned an even more extreme, stripped-out R26.R version, but a similar tactic this time around is considered unlikely as the R26.R struggled to achieve commercial success despite breaking the front-wheel-drive 'Ring record in 2008.
An update on the project is due on 16 June, according to Renault.
Renault isn't the only manufacturer aiming to break records at the famous track, as competition from within the Volkswagen Group has seen a new 'Super GTI' version of the Golf take to the Nürburgring in recent weeks.
Another contender for the front-wheel-drive record is the Honda Civic Type R, although that car is still a year away from showrooms.
Peugeot is also thought to be considering a production version of its 308 R concept to better link its road car activites with its expanding motorsport portfolio, and the 'Ring record would play a key marketing role in this.
Renault has also previewed the new model in an official video:
Additional reporting by Darren Moss, 1 May 2014