Still more sport heads this way from France

FRANK­FURT MO­TOR SHOW/ Mark Smyth spoke with two Re­nault Sport di­rec­tors about elec­tric sports cars and the new Megane RS

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

The big re­veal for Re­nault at Frank­furt was not a new elec­tric ve­hi­cle. It was the new Megane RS, an adren­a­line-pump­ing, in­ter­nal com­bus­tio­nengined hot hatch.

But be­fore we get to the de­tails of the lat­est Re­nault Sport mis­sile, we spoke with Pa­trice Ratti, MD of Re­nault Sport and Eric Mag­nan, the com­pany’s prod­ucts and projects di­rec­tor — and the ini­tial topic was elec­tri­fi­ca­tion.

“It is clear there will be elec­tric sports cars,” says Mag­nan. “We can­not stay as oil burn­ers.”

Mag­nan con­firms plans are un­der way for an elec­tric RS model. “An RS EV (elec­tric ve­hi­cle) will keep some RS DNA in terms of han­dling, but fea­ture some new char­ac­ter­is­tics,” he says.

“We have seen that adding some elec­tric power like in the McLaren P1 and La­Fer­rari adds some en­joy­ment.”

Says Ratti: “We need to please our cus­tomers and meet reg­u­la­tions,” adding, though, that care needs to be taken. An elec­tric sys­tem adds a lot of weight to the car, he says.

For him, it is im­per­a­tive than a model “has to be a Re­nault Sport”.

So we wait to see ex­actly what the com­pany — which is al­ready do­ing well in the FIA Formula E cham­pi­onship — can come up with, but for now it is all about petrolpower with the new Megane RS.

NOTH­ING FAKE

Walk­ing us around the ve­hi­cle, Mag­nan says that Re­nault wanted to im­prove its de­sign. It fea­tures a unique side body over the reg­u­lar Megane and over­all he says it is “de­signed for per­for­mance — there is noth­ing that is fake”.

That in­cludes the new rear dif­fuser that helps with down­force at speed, as well as the breathers be­hind the front wheel arches. The new model is 60mm wider than the stan­dard model at the front, while 45mm has been added to its width at the rear.

Up front it also gets the new RS Vision che­quered flag light­ing sys­tem, while at the rear Mag­nan says it has some­thing in com­mon with Lam­borgh­ini by us­ing a trape­zoidal ex­haust tip.

Be­neath the bon­net sits a new di­rect in­jec­tion 1.8l tur­bocharged petrol mo­tor, push­ing out around 209kW and 380Nm of torque. SA will get both Cup and Lux ver­sions of this ini­tially in the se­cond quar­ter of 2018, but it will be fol­lowed by the Tro­phy ver­sion which gets an ad­di­tional 15kW and 40Nm.

Fol­low­ing its de­but on the Megane GT, the new RS de­riv­a­tive will also get 4Con­trol rear­wheel steer­ing. Mag­nan says it is ba­si­cally the same sys­tem as on the GT but tuned for the RS. It will al­low more di­rect turn-in and more sta­bil­ity when ex­it­ing cor­ners. Sta­bil­ity will also be helped by new front su­per struts and bring­ing the Megane RS to a halt will be big­ger front brakes.

As with the out­go­ing gen­er­a­tion, the new model will be avail­able with two dif­fer­ent chas­sis op­tions, one for the Lux and one for the Cup and Tro­phy. The Lux is, of course, en­gi­neered to be slightly more com­fort­able than its sib­lings, but Mag­nan says Re­nault has tried to add more com­fort to all mod­els with four hy­draulic bump stops to im­prove com­fort while also re­duc­ing body roll.

Cater­ing for those who are slightly more en­thu­si­as­tic driv­ers, the Cup ver­sion will come with a me­chan­i­cal Torsen lim­ited slip dif­fer­en­tial with an in­creased trans­fer rate, which Mag­nan says “helps you to oversteer”. That will be in­ter­est­ing to put to the test in a front-wheeldrive car, with Re­nault Sport stay­ing clear of mak­ing its lat­est RS model all-wheel drive

The new model is a “car for peo­ple who love to drive”, says Mag­nan, which is also per­haps why it will come with a sixspeed man­ual gear­box.

For those who like an au­to­matic, there will also be the op­tion of a six-speed EDC du­al­clutch trans­mis­sion.

In­side, there are el­e­ments of RS treat­ment in­clud­ing red trim in­serts, sports seats and a new RS Mon­i­tor sys­tem ac­ces­si­ble via the touch­screen. It looks the part but is slightly more re­served than the dy­namic ex­te­rior of the lat­est gen­er­a­tion.

While the new Megane RS looks promis­ing, it re­mains to be seen how well it per­forms. The lat­est Clio RS failed to live up to ex­pec­ta­tions so we hope that Ratti and his team have learnt from that and pro­duced a model that those of us who have al­ways been fans can view as a hot hatch truly wor­thy of the Re­nault Sport legacy.

The new Megane RS is more ex­tro­vert than re­cent gen­er­a­tions with a de­sign that is said to be all about per­for­mance func­tion­al­ity. Be­low: The new dif­fuser is claimed to im­prove down­force while the rear track has been widened by 45mm.

The in­te­rior gets RS touches but is slightly more re­served than the ex­te­rior.

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