03 March 2009

Geneva show: Renault Megane RS

RenaultSport’s latest hot hatch looks deeply, deeply excellent. Need to drive it

Renault Megane RS

Want one. The covers have just come off the RenaultSport Megane (or Renault Megane RS - the names seem to be used interchangeably) in Geneva, and we're already wheedling Renault for a drive in one.

Looks great, doesn't it? There's plenty of the Megane Trophy racer that we saw back in Paris last autumn about the front end, with its dipping chin, plastic front clip, big arches - which, in a very neat touch, morph into brake vents at the back - and most excellent two-tone alloys. The centre exit exhaust mounted within the diffuser is deeply cool, too.

In fact, the only styling detail we're not so keen on are the strangely bulging side sills, but we'll let those fly for the moment. Overall, it's a fantastic looking thing.

But you want to know about the power and the fastness, don't you? Here goes: 247bhp courtesy of a heavily revised version of Renault's two-litre twin scroll turbo petrol engine. That's 20bhp more than the current RenaultSport Megane R26.R, and - though Renault hasn't released performance figures yet - should be good for a 0-60mph time of around six seconds. That's plenty enough to worry the Focus RS, despite the Ford packing an extra 60bhp.

RenaultSport often waits a while before releasing the stiffer ‘Cup' versions of its hot hatches, but the sharper chassis will be available immediately in the Megane, along with a limited slip diff. The steering has also been heavily revised, while Renault asserts that the traction control can be switched off. Fully off.

The new Megane RS goes on sale later this year in three-door guise: Renault doesn't seem to have any plans to release a five-door RS, which is just fine by us. Though we're yet to find out prices, expect them to remain similar to the outgoing model. A lot cheaper than the Focus RS, in other words.

So, assuming it drives as well as the outgoing RenaultSport Megane, is this the new king of the hot hatch pile? Let the fight begin... 

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