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Get ready for Renault's hybrid hot hatch
Renault has confirmed to TopGear.com that future Renaultsport models could feature hybrid powertrains.
Sacrilege, or the potential for more hardcore RS cars? Speaking to TG, a contact at Renault UK admitted that the RS division could soon collaborate with the bods over in electric vehicles.
“I could see it happening in the future,” our Renault insider said. “Look at Formula E - all the vehicles are from Renaultsport. So I can certainly see RS hybrids in the future. Why not?”
No need to start saving just yet. Renault hasn’t set out a definitive timeframe, so we’ll be waiting a while for an RS hybrid to materialise. Probably necessary, considering the progression of the EV/hybrid sectors. “As the EV and hybrid markets mature,” our man said, “there’s no reason why there wouldn’t be an RS version of that.”
Speaking on the progression of battery technology, Renault’s EV product manager Ben Fletcher also noted the potential for Renaultsport to collaborate with his department. “I think it would be a really interesting project [a hybrid RS] to be involved with, and a really interesting proposition to the customer.”
What about that particular class of customer that wants that old-school, naturally aspirated, raw-as-sashimi RS experience? Don’t forget, the world is still getting accustomed to a turbocharged Renault Clio RS with an automatic gearbox.
“You have some purists who will just go down the internal combustion route,” says Ben, “but equally you’ve got a lot of people who are really into cars, really into the technology behind the cars, and actually that has a cachet to it. If you look at the McLaren P1 for example, nobody accuses that of being dull, do they? And yet that’s got a partly electrified powertrain. Same goes for LaFerrari.
“You don’t see people pointing at a Porsche 918 and say ‘that’s boring’. It’s about the two systems working together. So on a personal level it would make sense.”
Fletcher also waded into the current debate raging around battery capacity and EV range. “There’s lots of stuff in the media about battery tech that generally focuses on capacity,” he said, “but actually what that ignores is that batteries are four dimensional.
“You need one that holds the right amount of electricity, that is cost effective, one that’s stable, and one that’s proven in a vehicle - the cycles a car battery goes through are very different from other applications.”
For Ben and his team, its about the infrastructure behind the EV tech. “The battery technology thing is only a symptom of the range that people worry about, so its about how we tackle that range problem, and not necessarily the battery problem. For me, the range point is tackled via infrastructure,” he told us. It’s all getting a bit chicken and egg, isn’t it?
On the subject of its electric cars, Renault announced today that a full purchase battery option is now available on the ZOE and Kangoo, dubbed the Zoe i and Kangoo i (the ‘i’ stands for included).
Before, you bought your ZOE but hired the battery, but now you have the option of buying the whole car outright: better for fleet customers to incorporate the entire cost of the car in one lump.
It’s a handy way of reminding us that the ZOE is the second best-selling EV in the UK (behind the Nissan Leaf), and has grown its share of the market by a whopping 75 per cent in the last year.
So, prices for the ZOE ‘battery hire’ version start from £13,995, while prices for the ZOE ‘i’ start from £18,443 - a £4,448 increase. The full price still undercuts rivals from Volkswagen, Nissan and Kia, Renault tells us.
But you’re still chewing on that hybrid RS, right? Ben Fletcher again. “Tesla with the P85D has shown what electric vehicles are capable of, performance-wise,” he said. That Tesla, for reference, does 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds…
You ready for a hybrid Renaultsport?
Pictured: Current Renault Clio RSPeugeot 208 GTI vs Renault Clio RS vs Ford Fiesta ST