Five-door layout, auto and manual options confirmed for French GTI rival.
Renault has fired its first shots in a looming hot hatch battle, presenting the new Megane RS to Formula One spectators at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Nico Hulkenberg, star driver for Renault’s F1 program, punted a mildly disguised example of the upcoming model around the circuit during a celebration of the brand’s grand prix history.
The 2015 Le Mans winner seemed happy with the car, telling Renault publicists he was “hooked first time out by the excellence of its chassis”.
“Renault Sport has done a tremendous job on its performance credentials,” Hulkenberg says.
“It was a huge pleasure to drive it around the legendary street track at Monaco today.”
The French marque has confirmed that the successor to its acclaimed Megane RS 275 will be offered with a turbocharged engine and a choice of manual or dual-clutch automatic transmissions. That news was welcomed by supporters of the brand who feared the Megane would follow in the footsteps of the smaller Clio RS by becoming an auto-only proposition.
A less welcome development is that the Renault features a five-door body that looks more practical but less stylish than the outgoing Megane coupe.
Tipped to drive the front wheels through a limited-slip differential, the Megane RS is likely to feature four-wheel-steering already offered on the lesser Megane GT. Renault has not revealed engine specifications to the model, though it stands to reason it will use a 200-plus kW development of the 1.8-litre turbo engine fitted to Renault’s upcoming Alpine coupe.
Renault is expected to unveil the new Megane properly in coming months – possibly at the Frankfurt motor show – before arriving locally in 2018.
The model will arrive to find serious competition from a host of models including the new Hyundai i30 N and Honda Civic Type R, as well as established cars such as the Volkswagen Golf R, Ford Focus RS and Subaru WRX STI.