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At last! The new RenaultSport Megane is here

Hardest hot hatch of them all gets four-wheel steer and optional paddleshift 'box

It’s finally here. After an almighty amount of teasing, Renault has at last shown us its latest Megane hot hatch.

The new RenaultSport Megane launches with a number of headlines. First up, it has four-wheel steering as standard. No other hot hatch currently offers that, and it comes – whether you want it or not – with both of the Megane’s chassis options.

As always with fast Renaults, you’ve a choice of Sport (softer) or Cup (harder) suspension setups, the latter getting a proper differential on the front axle. That’s the one you want.

You also have a choice of gearboxes, with a manual or twin-clutch auto available, both with six speeds. The latter gets big, fixed paddles for when you want to change gear yourself, and with launch control it ought to be the faster option, too. But the manual will no doubt be more engaging.

The engine is a 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo, just like you’ll find in the new Alpine A110 sports car. Only here it drives the front wheels, and it’s more powerful, too. For now, it produces 276bhp and 287lb ft, which means it’s only a smidge more potent than the 2.0-litre turbo it replaces.

It also pegs the Megane comfortably behind the Golf R, Leon Cupra and Civic Type R on paper. But like the new Hyundai i30 N, this may be a hatch that’s more about fun than figures. And there’s a 296bhp RenaultSport Megane Trophy promised at the end of 2018 anyway…

Performance figures are conspicuous by their absence. Perhaps that’s because the new tech and additional rear doors mean this is heavier than the RS Megane it replaces, while having only 5bhp more. Or maybe Renault simply hasn’t finalised them yet. We do know it’ll top 40mpg and emit 155g/km of CO2, though. Wager on 0-62mph in around six seconds and a top speed of about 160mph.

As well as the four-wheel steering – “carefully configured” by RenaultSport, we’re reassuringly told – there’s also a variety of drive modes, with the most focused being ‘Race’. Select it and the stability control also loosens its reins.

The Megane gets the latest version of RenaultSport’s ‘Monitor’ tech. As well as displaying your G figures and lap times, its camera can record what you’re up to and send it to your social media accounts for some online bragging. It’s easy to see that going spectacularly wrong…

And then there’s styling. Yes, it’s got five doors. But so does every hot hatch these days. Instead focus on the swelled wheel arches, a functional styling tweak to accommodate wider axles, for better handling. There’s a flat floor underneath and a bold rear diffuser, suggesting there’s some proper aero work going on here, too.

The flourishes are a new paint colour – Volcanic Orange, presumably inspired by McLaren’s colour of a starkly similar name – and the “prismatic” central exhaust, which is a direct design link to the Megane it replaces.

A Megane which is utterly tremendous, a true hot hatch all-time great. One with an unwavering focus on fun; its super stiff ride and old-school spec put lots of people off, but satisfied those who bought into it immensely.

Big shoes to fill, then. Renault’s offer of numerous power outputs, suspension setups and gearboxes suggests it’s going for broader appeal here. Let’s hope a smartly specced Megane is still uncommonly good to drive. Prices are yet to be announced, but expect a starting point above £25,000 and a Megane with all the goodies to top £30,000.

Like what you’re hearing? Or does a hot hatch need at least 300bhp or four-wheel drive to get your interest these days?

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