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Geneva show: Renault unveils wildest Megane

Hottest hatch: Megane RS250 could be topped by an even hotter, Gordini-badged version beyond 2010.

Spiritual successor for Renault’s piping-hot Megane R26 emerges, but is a year away

6 Mar 2009

NOT content with whipping the covers off no fewer than six other world debuts at this week’s Geneva motor show, Renault has revealed its most powerful Megane ever in the – wait for it – Renault Megane Renaultsport 250.

Powered by a 186kW version of the French maker’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, which is the equivalent of 247bhp or 250ps (hence the name), the vivid yellow-coloured three-door Megane RS250 is the spiritual successor for Renault’s limited-edition 168kW Megane RS F1 Team R26.

The latest Renaultsport model was revealed in the Swiss capital alongside the facelifted Clio and its new RS200 flagship variant, the new Scenic and Grand Scenic (see separate stories), and the all-new Megane Sport Tourer.

While the latter is extremely unlikely to be sold in Australia, where there is minimal demand for small wagons, the Megane RS250 should arrive here around this time next year in line with Renault Australia’s policy of landing models within about 12 months of their European release.

Expect the hottest Megane yet to emerge from France to be priced above the current Megane RS 225 three-door ($37,490) and five-door ($43,990). The previous Megane R26 flagship was last sold here at $44,990. Renault has confirmed the RS250 would not be made available in five-door form.

35 center imageIt also said that, like the Clio RS and Europe-only Twingo RS, the hottest Megane will be available in major markets with both normal and more extreme ‘Cup’ chassis tunes, with the latter also featuring a limited-slip differential and therefore expected to be a direct replacement for the R26.

While no performance figures or European pricing has been revealed, a six-speed manual transmission will be standard and Renault says the newest RS engine delivers performance outputs that are 20hp and 40Nm higher than its previous Megane performance yardstick, the exclusive R26.R.

Specifically, the car’s new-generation 16-valve four employs a twin-scroll turbocharger to unleash 186kW at 5500rpm and 340Nm of torque from 3000rpm, with 80 per cent of maximum torque claimed to be available from 1900rpm.

Aesthetically, the RS250’s front bumper features a Formula One-like splitter and Audi-style LED daytime running lights, while extended wheel-arches and side sills, 18-inch alloy wheels and a chunky rear bumper comprising an air diffuser and central exhaust outlet complete the latest RS look.

Inside the RS250 reside sports seats with enhanced lateral bolstering, a visual and audible gearshift indicator built into the tacho, aluminium pedals and a Renaultsport steering wheel complete with thumb grips. Of course, there is also Renaultsport badging on the head restraints, tacho and dashboard.

While Renault Australia marketing communications manager Craig Smith told GoAuto it was too early to talk about exact local arrival timing for the top-shelf Megane, he did not rule out future high-performance models to be released in Europe under Renault’s Gordini brand from 2010.

"Like everything we do, we take a one-step-at-a-time approach. So never say never," said Mr Smith, when asked about the prospects of Renault’s Gordini sub-brand being sold in Australia.

As reported by the UK’s respected Car magazine this week, Renault’s global marketing director Stephen Norman confirmed Renault would launch a series of hot-hatch models under its Gordini name, starting with next year’s Twingo Gordini and followed by high-performance versions of the Clio and Megane ‘coupe’.

The news follows Renault’s postponement in 2008 of a performance coupe project to be launched under the Alpine name, which is another sports car brand owned by the French maker, following the global economic downturn.

Mr Norman said the Gordini models would be Renault’s answer to the likes of Mini’s Cooper S and Fiat’s Abarth models.

Read more:

Geneva show: Clio makeover unwrapped

Geneva show: Renault Scenic doubtful for Oz

First look: Megane MkIII - no butts about it

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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