At long last, we now have a clear picture (through these clear pictures) of what Renault’s next Megane RS looks like. And, if you’ve been following its gestation period and the hype/teaser campaigns running in parallel, there shouldn’t be all that much to surprise you.
Revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the all-new Megane RS, seen here in a very fetching dark orange, looks brilliant. But that’s mostly because the Megane hatch already looks plenty handsome, and the warmed up Megane GT already took the Renault Sport aesthetic eight tenths of the way to real RS we see here. Some of the new, more observable touches include the F1-style front blade 3D honeycomb grille mesh, side air duct, wider front air intakes, large centre exhaust, a rear lip spoiler, larger rear diffuser, RS-specific 18 and 19-inch wheels, and a wider track overall.
It should also be plenty impressive to drive. The French marque and their high performance division have built up a sterling reputation at delivering engaging, lively, fast, often tack-sharp small cars can punch well above their weight - literally and figuratively. Its predecessor was long held as the pinnacle of the front-drive hot hatch, a stripped-out, bare-knuckle track car accessible to the everyman.
Of course, we won’t know any of this for sure until Renault inches closer toward offering it in showrooms, but the money points to them not disappointing in that department. Unlike the car it replaces, this new Megane comes only as a five-door hatch, making it instantly more practical. Thusly, similar to what they did with the latest Clio RS, they seem to be endeavouring to broaden the car’s talents so as to appeal to an audience that may want their hot Renault to fill multiple roles. While the previous Megane RS could stand in as a primary car, it tended to struggle more than, say, a VW Golf R.
There’s no red wheels or perspex windows or a roll cage (yet), and even manages to have a cabin that looks decently comfortable for all occupants. But Renault are understandably careful about having its observers come to believe that the Megane RS has gone soft, only that it’s more than a one-trick pony.
This third iteration of flagship series hot hatch uses a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine - near-identical to the one that debuted in the new Alpine A110 - that’ll send 205kW and 390Nm to the front wheels via a standard six-speed manual transmission, though a six-speed EDC dual-clutch is also available as an option. Hoorah! That’s probably a class leading specific output when weighed against today’s hot hatches, too. And at the end of 2018, Renault promises to introduce a more hardcore Megane RS Trophy with 224kW.
Like before, drive will be spread using a limited slip differential, and at the rear the dynamics of the two tag-along wheels are dictated by a torsion beam, which isn’t the most sophisticated of suspension solutions but Renault has no doubt added that secret sauce that made the older car’s setup so sharp and satisfying. They’re also a conduit to the all-new 4CONTROL rear-wheel steer system, which can effect slight steering adjustments to either have the car behave more responsively along more technical roads or, by angling the rear wheels in unison with the fronts, improve high speed stability.
Inside, the Megane RS deliver punchier take on the standard Megane and retains many cues established by the Megane GT variant. Instead of blue accents, the cabin is scattered with red. Contrast stitching matched to the black interior trim, red mood lighting, and Alcantara bucket seats certainly lend it a racier vibe.
As we can see, Renault has retained the 8-inch portrait-style R-LINK infotainment unit from the more luxury-focused Megan's as well as its support for Apple CarPlay, lending even more credence to the expanded appeal of this generation RS hatch. Still in doubt? Well, take a look at that sunroof.