Renault used to be top dog at the Nürburgring when it came to hot hatches, as it owned the front-drive lap record for years with previous hardcore versions of the Megane RS.
Then rivals like Seat, Volkswagen, and finally Honda came along and snatched the title. But the French aren’t surrendering – instead. they are preparing to fight back and reclaim the throne.
The weapon of choice is the new Megane RS Trophy, a prototype of which was recently spotted testing on the Nordschleife. It looks even more hardcore than the current model, which packs the same 280-horsepower engine as the Alpine A110.
The new Trophy would likely pack at least 300 hp, putting it in prime position to tackle the Honda Civic Type R that holds the FWD ‘Ring record right now.
But that wouldn’t be all there’d be to Renault Sport’s new top model. As these spy shots suggest, it’d also get a tweaked chassis with stiffer suspension, larger wheels with bigger brakes, a limited-slip diff (one is already standard on the RS Cup) and a stripped-out interior.
An improved aero package should help with downforce as well as cooling of the engine and brakes. What remains to be seen is whether it’ll be available with both a manual and a dual-clutch gearbox, like the 2018 Megane RS, or if it’ll adopt the (faster in a circuit) DCT only.
We expect the Megane RS Trophy to launch sometime later this year, and a Nordschleife run should follow shortly after.
The best time Renault has achieved to date around the Green Hell is 7:54.36, clocked by the previous Megane RS 275 Trophy-R in 2014. The Civic Type R managed to shave over 10 seconds off that when it clocked a 7:43.8 last year.
Clearly the French have their work cut out for them, but even their rivals would admit that they stand more than a fighting chance. And, of course, it will be interesting to see how they’ll respond to the new Megane Trophy. Let the hot hatch war commence once more!