2020 Renault Megane RS Trophy-R

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The Light Stuff. Renault's new Megane RS Trophy-R is poised for launch - and it's one serious bit of kit. Words by Antony Ingram.


No detail has been overlooked on the new 2020 Renault Megane RS Trophy-R, and nothing illustrates this better than the badges you’ll find at each end of the car.

At the front is a smooth, simple iteration of Renault’s diamond logo, usually packed with active cruise control sensors but here shorn of its electronics to make it lighter and more aerodynamic than a standard Renault badge.


2020 Renault Megane RS Trophy-R
2020 Renault Megane RS Trophy-R

At the back, nestled in the other diamond, is a reversing camera. An oversight on a car where every gram has been considered? Perhaps not, because also residing at the rear, on some examples, is an incredibly intricate and expensive carbonfibre diffuser element. Renault figures you probably won’t want to damage this on high kerbs and other obstacles, so the camera remains, adding a few extra grams to save you many more pounds.

The powertrain - 1.8-litre, 296bhp four-pot, six-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential and all - is as per the standard Trophy. But in the Trophy-R it gets a lift from a chassis taken well beyond that of the standard car. Out goes the rear- wheel steering, designed to maximise low-speed agility and high-speed stability, and in comes a lighter new beam axle that, paired with new front suspension geometry {there’s two degrees of camber on the front wheels), is said to enhance agility and response at all speeds, at the expense of some friendliness for less experienced drivers.

‘THE SPRINGS ARE ADJUSTABLE, A SPECIAL TOOL ALLOWING A RIDE-HEIGHT DROP OF UP TO 16MM’

The same applies to the RS-marked Bridgestone Potenza S007 tyres, which trade progressive grip drop-off for more bite and high-temperature performance. The Ohlins dampers are adjustable, - as are the springs, a special tool allowing a ride-height drop of up to 16mm for, track use. But Renault claims the R is adept even on bumpy roads, although admits it doesn’t test in the UK.

The weight-saving is obsessive. Here’s a run-down: the new rear axle sheds 32kg, ditching the rear bench is a 25.3kg saving, the titanium Akrapovic exhaust is 7kg lighter, an optional lithium battery removes 4.1kg from the nose, and the rear side glass is thinner and now fixed, saving 1kg.

It goes on. There’s no rear wiper - that’s 3kg saved for the wiper arm, motor and harness. The boot carpet? 1.3kg less. The front bumper loses - 1.8kg, the carbonfibre and glassfibte bonnet (with NACA cooling duct and heat-extracting vents) is a full 7.3kg lighter.

The wheels are 1.9kg lighter per corner than the regular Trophy's, but choose the Carbon Ceramic Pack, with its carbonfibre wheels produced at a rate of two per day by Carbon Revolution in Australia, and you shed a further 2.1kg per wheel. The pack also brings Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, extra cooling ducts in the front bumper (replacing the ‘RS Vision’ fog and cornering light units, and saving 2kg), and that beautiful and effective carbon rear diffuser, which has 30 per cent more surface area than the standard item, is twice as efficient and saves another 2.3kg. The tips of the Akrapovic system are slash-cut to the same profile,

The interior is special too. Gorgeous 16kg Sabelt seats replace the standard 21kg chairs. A 7-inch infotainment display replaces the usual, larger portrait screen. This means less weight, and equally importantly for some the air con controls are now' ‘proper’ knobs and switches. The steering wheel is Alcantara trimmed, while in the back there’s a bracing bar that also serves as a fixing point for an option to hold four wheels and tyres for trackday use - neatly accessible through the rear doors.

If you’re thinking none of this sounds cheap, you’d be right. UK pricing is yet to be confirmed, but the base price in France will be €55,000 (c£49,200), while the desirable Carbon Ceramic Pack will easily add another five-figure sum. In total 500 Rs will be built; the UK has been allocated just 30 of those. France and Germany 100 each, while the rest will be split between Switzerland and Japan. And just 30 of the 500 will get the Carbon Ceramic Pack.

Between those two badges, then, is the most extreme car Renault Sport has ever made, with every component having to justify its worth. And if we've been underwhelmed by the company’s latest Megane until now, the Trophy-R may finally be the - car to make us reconsider.

Above: steering wheel is now trimmed in Alcantara all the way round, rather than being leather on each side. Left: infotainment system gets a downgrade in the name of weight-saving. Bottom: new Sabelt seats save 5kg apiece.


THE RIVALS

HONDA CIVIC TYPE-R

The current hot-hatch leader. Impeccably engineered, the 316bhp Civic R is staggeringly effective on both road and track, able to keep up with the imperfections of the former and turn into a BTCC racer on the latter. Only the styling makes us think twice.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI CLUBSPORT S

Forget the current TCR: the Clubsport S of 2016 is still the greatest ever Golf, and the only hatch capable of giving the old 275 Trophy-R (2015-2016) a bloody nose. Interactive, fast (306bhp) and accomplished, it felt cut from the same cloth as a 911GT3 991.2.

RENAULT SPORT MEGANE 275 TROPHY-R

Now rendered 14 seconds slower than the latest Trophy-R around the Ring (7:54.4 v 7:40.1), the old R remains a remarkable achievement and a yardstick for hot hatch aggression. Needed care on cold tyres or in the wet, but mighty on a dry track. More on Drive-My.


Technical data 2020 Renault Megane RS Trophy-R

Engine In-line 4-cyl, 1798cc, turbocharged

Max Power 296bhp @ 6000rpm

Max Torque 295lb ft @ 2400-4800rpm

Weight 1306 kg (230bhp/ton)

0-62mph TBC

Top speed TBC

Basic price €55,000


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