Not that we’ll get to see it in the flesh probably until the eve of its competitive debut – round one of 2018’s WRX season in Barcelona next April.
The reason: all aspects of the car – including design, build, development, testing – have a big top secret stamp on them.
Other than the odd ‘teaser’ image, that’s as much as we’re going to get for now. But that didn’t stop us asking Prodrive’s Motorsport Managing Director John Gaw for an update.
“We won’t show the car until the very last minute because there will be some technical innovations on it we don’t want people to copy before start of season,” he commented.
“The final design is now complete; the major components are in manufacture. The shell is due to move through to the build workshop ready for fabrication and roll cage installation. Then it’s a case of bolting on all the components. We’re hopeful the car will run for the first time quite early in the New Year.”
He added: “This will be the most extreme version of the Mégane R.S. in terms of aerodynamics, power, weight distribution and grip.”
All cars competing in WRX’s top ‘Supercar’ class must run with 2.0 turbocharged motors. These churn out around 600bhp and the results are shattering with 0-60mph regularly achieved in two seconds flat.
Interestingly Prodrive has opted to use its own engine for the project. As Gaw continued: “The whole car is being designed from the bottom up for WRX’s rules. But while the engine is being designed in house the shell is very much based on the Mégane R.S. but developed for motorsport and is optimised for eight distribution as well as safety.
“The more we’ve looked into the championship it’s obvious that one critical area will be grip – more so than horsepower. That 0-60mph time also becomes a critical factor because a lot of winning in rallycross is done off the line in the sprint to the first corner – the launch control and the electronics on this car are going to play a very big part.”
The Mégane project is the brainchild of French racer (and former world skiing champion) Guerlain Chicherit who has commissioned Prodrive to build the Megane.
Although it’s a privateer campaign, Prodrive is taking matters just as seriously as it did when it built World Rally Championship winning cars for the likes of Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg. In fact it is the latter’s own team in collusion with VW that has won 2017’s WRX crown.
And said Gaw: “We fully understand how tough the competition is. But we like to look at the rules of a championship and ask: ‘how do we change the game; do something that’s never been done before’?
“Chicherit’s mantra is ‘changing the rules and changing the game’ which is very similar to Prodrive’s: ‘Performance unlimited and challenging convention’.
“It has to be within the regulations, of course, but we believe we’ve seen some things that will enable us to come with a very exciting new concept and product with the Mégane R.S.”