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Future models - Renault - Megane - Renaultsport R26.R

First look: Renaultsport lobs last, most lithe Megane ever

Racey: Megane R26.R claims a new front-drive Nurburgring record.

Renault rolls out R26.R: last Megane hurrah, Focus RS spoiler and 'Ring pace-setter

22 Jul 2008

RENAULT’S next-generation Megane is due to emerge at the Paris motor show in a little over two months, but that didn’t stop the sassy French maker from giving its outgoing small-car a fitting swansong – and providing the perfect spoiler for the global debut of Ford’s all-new Focus RS in the process – by presenting the Megane Renaultsport R26.R at today’s British motor show opening.

As the name suggests, the stripped-out, limited-edition R26.R is the raciest, most raucous incarnation yet seen of the current Megane, and is in fact claimed to have recorded a new front-wheel drive production car lap record of eight minutes 17 seconds at the Nurburgring on June 23.

The time eclipses the so-called Nurburgring Edition version of HSV’s recently-released Astra VXR, just 835 examples of which will be built globally to mark its 8:35 lap time at the gruelling German road circuit, which also hosted development work for the new Focus RS.

35 center imageThe latter produces 224kW and at least 410Nm of torque from its turbocharged Duratec 2.5-litre inline five-cylinder engine, and is claimed to be good for 0-100km/h acceleration in less than six seconds, while the Opel Astra OPC-based HSV VXR packs a 176kW/320Nm turbo four.

Based on the three-door Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26, another 20 examples of which were ordered by Renault Australia in May (priced at the same $44,990 as the Nurburgring VXR), the R26.R is powered by the same 168kW (230hp), 310Nm turbocharged four-cylinder - but sheds a massive 123kg to tip the scales at 1230kg and match the RS and VXR's straightline pace.

Renault’s weight-reduction program included the fitment of a 7.5kg-lighter carbon-fibre bonnet, polycarbonate rear/side windows that save 5.7kg and carbon/aluminium Sabelt front racing seats that cut a further 25kg.

As part of the last hurrah for the X84-series Megane, the R26.R diet also extended to the exclusion of the rear seats, rear seatbelts, passenger and curtain airbags, climate-control, rear window wiper and heating, front foglights, headlight washers, sound system and almost all sound-proofing.

Like the R26, the R-R exclusively employs a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission and limited-slip front differential, but adds unique red 18-inch alloy wheels, a new rear spoiler and R26.R badging (including the Nurburgring circuit outline and lap record etched into the rear side windows), and comes with the option of a titanium exhaust system and roll cage for track days.

The six-point Sabelt seat harnesses are said to be the first of their type homologated in a production car, and can be switched in favour of conventional three-point lap/sash belts.

Suspension and brakes have come for further work, with the former differing from the R26’s ‘Cup’ chassis via new front springs (14mm/100kg compared to 13.4mm/100kg), new rear springs (16.2mm/100kg from 15.1mm/100kg), recalibrated dampers and stiffer lower arm bushes.

Grooved (not drilled) brake discs measure 312mm at the front, where they’re gripped by four-piston Brembo callipers.

Seven exterior paint colours will be available - two of which (Racing Blue and Renault i.d. Lunar Grey) are new to the Megane and one of which is new (Renault i.d. Pearlescent White) – while climate-control and black wheels are also on the options list, alongside Toyo Proxes R888 225/40 R18 tyres to replace the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 2 235/40 R18s.

The R26.R is the latest in a family of Renaultsport models including the Clio RS 197, the five-door Megane RS 225 and the upcoming Megane RS dCi 175.

It will be priced at £22,990 ($A47,200) in the UK, where some 230 examples of a worldwide production run of just 450 cars will be sold.

Each car will feature a plaque with the production number for each country, with France to receive 126 examples, and Spain and Germany to each receive just 26.

Alas, with just 40-odd cars remaining globally, Renault Australia advises the R26.R is unlikely to be sold here.

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