The French pulled out all the stops to reclaim the front-drive lap record at the Nürburgring.
You may have noticed or not, but there's a war being waged at the Nürburgring. Not only for the outright or production-car lap record, but in another, just as tightly contested category for front-drive hot hatches. And this is the new champion.
It's the new Renault Megane RS Trophy-R, and it lapped the Nordschleife this past April in 7 minutes and 40.1 seconds. That's almost four seconds quicker than the Honda Civic Type R that claimed the crown two years ago, and more than 14 seconds ahead of the last Megane Trophy-R.
Those are some impressive margins, and Renaultsport pulled out all the stops to get there. It packs a 2.0-liter turbo four tuned to deliver 295 horsepower and just as many lb-ft of torque – the same as the the existing Megane Trophy, but the new Trophy-R is a more focused machine.
The suspension has been completely redesigned and mounted with carbon-fiber wheels wearing specifically developed Bridgestone Potenza S007 semi-slick rubber and packing segment-first (available) carbon-ceramic front brakes with larger Brembo four-piston calipers. It also wears a more aggressive aero kit and a titanium Akropovic exhaust.
Though the rear doors remain in place, Renaultsport removed the rear seats, and replaced the front buckets with Sabelt shells with six-point racing harnesses. Measures like those helped trim the curb weight by 287 pounds, helping the Trophy-R rocket to 62 in just 5.4 seconds (three tenths quicker than the existing Trophy model) and top out at 163 mph, putting Renaultsport's latest closer to the realm of the racing car than the road-going hot hatch, but it's still completely road legal.
"New Mégane R.S. Trophy-R completes the Mégane R.S. range with a more extreme version,” notes Renaultsport general manager Patrice Ratti.
"It is very similar to a racing car, but is certified for the public highway. We know there are customers looking for this type of car, and not every driver should be put behind the wheel of such a car.”
Only 500 example will be made, just 30 of which will come with the carbon wheels and brakes. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but you can bet it'll command a considerable premium over the €44,300 ($50k) Renault charges in France for the existing Megane RS Trophy. Whatever the price, though, Renault doesn't compete in America, so this will remain a rather sweet-looking piece of forbidden fruit.