Many of course want to know if Renault Sport will try and reclaim the front-wheel-drive lap record around the mighty Nurburgring and Autocar Editor Jim Holder has perhaps come up with the biggest clue yet.
With news of a 295bhp Trophy version in the wings already confirmed, Renault Sport General Manager Patrice Ratti told Holder: “As long as we can make the car faster and comply with the regulations, then we will try to break some records.”
But he emphasised: “However, as I keep saying, I would never swap pleasure for speed – we have targets we must achieve. But an R.S. Trophy car is already looking very interesting.”
The Renault Sport Mégane’s 1.8 litre engine has caused considerable interest, particularly because of the input that the Renault Sport Formula One Team has had in the design of its cylinder head.
Ratti continued: “The F1 team’s expertise in developing high performance parts quickly is amazing – it achieved in one week what would have taken us five or six weeks because of its simulation know-how.”
Notably Top Gear magazine reckoned in its initial review that the new Mégane made Honda’s Civic R – the car which took its ‘Ring record – look “overcooked”.
Meanwhile there has been a fascinating eight-page special on the car in CAR, with Editor James Taylor chatting to project manager Grégoire Ginet, design director Eric Diemert and chassis, performance and transmission engineers respectively Antoine Frey, Fabien Berthomieu and Sébatien Norie. Development driver Laurent Hurgon is also interviewed.
In the article it is clear the team behind the Mégane R.S., while acknowledging that technology is required to move the car on from its predecessor, have taken great care not to let this diminish from driving fun.
“We have two goodies,” said Norie. “Multiple shift allows you to hold the paddle shift down and it will downshift, downshift, downshift to give you just the right gear for the corner, and there’s also launch control. You can activate it in Sport mode, where it keeps the ESP on, and in Race – where there are no aids at all.”
Norie also explained why Renault Sport is offering the option of a manual handbrake as well as gearbox. “It’s much more fun. Drivers of our R.S. like to tweak a manual handbrake into corners…”
Similarly, why no ‘auto-blip’ rev matching on downshifts. “We studied it and decided for the Mégane we don’t need it. Clients say they don’t want it. They want a simpler car and to do the heel-and-toe themselves.”
One final area that is causing a lot of talk is the Mégane R.S.’s all-wheel steering. “At the beginning we were worried the rear-wheel-steering might lose some of the fun,” said Hurgon, “but you lift your foot from the throttle, you feel it rotating. Of course it adds some weight but we feel it is compensated for by the extra agility. And we managed to keep the fun.”
Taylor sums up thus: “You’d like the people at Renault Sport – they love cars the same way you and I love cars and they’ve poured as much passion into the new Mégane as its predecessors, if not more. They’re confident that when it comes to meeting the sky-high standards set by the Mégane R.S.’s undisputable brilliance, they’ve succeeded.”