Frankfurt 2017: RenaultSport Megane
The RenaultSport Megane feels like it’s been “coming soon” forever but, finally, at the 2017 Frankfurt Show, we got our first look at Renault’s now-legendary hot hatch.
Stepping to the top of the Megane range, all of the familiar ingredients are there. Wilder-than-normal looks, a lairy signature colour, a clever piece of technology and the potential for a bananas Nurburgring lap time.
What’s it got?
A few fun things. Let’s start with the basics. Built on the new Megane platform that’s been doing the rounds for getting on two years, it’s obviously wider. The RenaultSport bods at Dieppe have pumped the car out for a much wider track with the attendant flaring of the guards to contain the extra width.
The 1.8-litre turbocharged four produces a neat 280hp (205kW) and 390Nm, with a 300hp/400Nm unit along by the end of 2018.
The chassis will be available in Sport and Cup types, but as on the Clio, it’s unlikely either of them will be granny-spec.
Wait…it has four-wheel steer?
Oh yes. It’s pretty obvious that there’s a sensible limit to engine output, especially from a 1.8-litre. Blow-ups are expensive, rather inconvenient and RenaultSport Meganes are driven like they’re stolen.
Ring lap times are important for marketing types (and internet bores), so a good way to reduce the lap time is more speed in the corners. Four-wheel steer not only helps gain a few tenths but also makes the car way more stable.
Four-wheel steer used to be a thing in the Eighties. So was Honda, when they were punching out some super-clever stuff, like the four-wheel steer Prelude. Mazda had some fun with the same technology, too, with the AWS MX-6 coupe. Then it went away. The GT-R popped up with it, but hardly anybody cared.
Peugeot had what it called passive rear-wheel steer on its rather lovely 306. Rather than using heavy and failure-prone electric motors to turn the wheels, it used physics. When you turned the car into a corner, the suspension would – basically – bend and allow a bit of same-direction steer from the rear wheels. Then Peugeot got boring with the 307 and all the fun went away.
Then, without warning, in 2016, two cars brought it back. The wild Ferrari F12 tdf special edition had it and then the Lamborghini Aventador S followed suit. So obviously the RenaultSport Megan was the next place it was going to appear. It’s the first time I can remember a hot hatch in about 15 years (306 GTi-6) having it.
Anything else worth knowing?
Of course! The suspension features hydraulics stops “to provide additional damping and eliminate the effects of rebound.” You can choose between the six-speed manual or six-speed twin clutch (the Clio is only available with the latter). The EDC transmission, as Renault calls it, also has launch control.
The turbo is a twin-scroll unit, which should mean it’s a bit more drivable than the old one. You will also be able to choose from a bunch of drive modes as well as safety tech, something the last car was a bit skinny on.
And in conclusion?
The RenaultSport Megane has become the benchmark over the years, soundly beating VW Golf bores and keeping the bonkers Focus ST extremely honest. With the new generation interior and five-door body, hopefully it’s a bit more appealing and will see quite a few more. Personally, I’d quite like a go in one right this minute, but I have to wait.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.