The curse of the modern Renault Sport hot hatch is that they're never quite bob on from launch. The Megane 225 was a bit of a duffer in 2004, gradually evolving into the far superior F1 Team cars and the exhilarating R26.R. The Clio 200 Cup was a better resolved hot hatch than the 197 of just a few years earlier. Let's not forget, either, that the previous Megane found many more plaudits in various 275 guises than it did as a 250.
Therefore, if the new Megane 280 is found to be a little underwhelming - the UK drives are coming soon, honest - then it won't be a tremendous surprise. Disappointing, yes, but clearly there's form. Moreover, all three examples above turned into world class hot hatches, so there'll be little cause for concern.
Regardless of whether the new Megane is insipid or inspirational, it looks like the employees of Renault Sport are already working on a racier version. Spied testing on the Nurburgring - where else? - this version of the Megane is sporting a new bonnet with intake, Sabelt seats, absolutely no interior, a carbon diffuser and a new exhaust. Looks quite racy, doesn't it? Hunkered down, squat and purposeful (even with whatever is attached to the wheels), this Megane's stance is spot on.
What will it be? Trophy seems the most logical bet, partly because of the heritage of previous Meganes but also because, well, Patrice Ratti said last year that a Megane Trophy was coming... So it's probably not all that far off, surely with a bit more power and various dynamic improvements beyond those already seen here.
Why so soon? The cynical will have already judged the Megane to not be good enough, hence Renault Sport's move to tinker with it, though there may be an ulterior motive. A track-related ulterior motive... Yes, the N-word is back on PH. Renault achieved great notoriety with the previous Trophy-R for its 7:54 Nordschleife lap time (particularly with the hoo-hah around SEAT's slower lap), only to have their glory stolen by the Golf GTI Clubsport S and a 7:47. Honda will claim it currently has the FWD record with a 7:43 in its new Civic Type R, though that car has only run around the lap in prototype form.
So if the Megane Trophy matched the Golf for power - 310hp, 30hp up on standard - plus ramped up the circuit focus of the standard car, could it surpass the Golf? Let's see, though it doesn't seem like we'll have long to find out - our sources are suggesting a 2018 reveal for a 2019 launch. The hot hatch wars continue!
Images: S.Baldauf/S.B. Median
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