Renault has been pretty successful lately, with 2016 marking the debut of the fourth-generation Megane, which can now be had as a five-door hatchback, four-door sedan, and as an estate. Things are about to get a little juicier in the Megane stable, however, as we’ve just received some pictures of what we believe to be the Megane R.S. prototype putting in some work on public roads. Right now, the car is wearing all the gear of the Megane GT, but there are a couple of clues that give this model away as a prototype – like those center-mounted exhaust outlets poking out of the rear bumper, for instance.
The exhaust outlets aren’t all we have to go by, but we’ll get more into that later. For now, we have some very interesting possibilities to consider. First, let’s start off by saying that the Megane R.S. will only be available as a five-door hatchback since Renault has no plans for a coupe variant of the Megane, so there’s that. Secondly, we think Renault might have the Focus RS in its sights, and if so, the Megane R.S. will likely inherit an all-wheel-drive system to make it a true competitor. Furthermore, Renault also has a unique opportunity to put the Focus RS in its place if it can manage to muster up more than 300 horsepower.
Of course, the model you see in the pictures here is just a prototype that was cobbled together out of a Megane GT, so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. For now, let’s take a look at these new pictures, talk a little about what we’ll see in the future, and make some predictions based on what we see and already know. Join me, just a little farther down the page.
These are the first images of the fourth-gen Megane R.S. that we’ve seen and, to be quite honest, there isn’t a lot to be excited about yet. This prototype is in the early stages of testing, or what I like to call, the Drivetrain phase. The prototype seen here is nothing more than a modified Megane GT, but we know it’s sporting some important changes under the skin, thanks to a few little details. For starters, there hood pins, which tells me there’s something different lurking beneath. Furthermore, the wheel arches have been hacked away to make room for the larger wheels. In the rear, you’ll also notice that there are center-mounted dual exhaust outlets. These, of course, sit between the capped-off holes in the rear fascia that accommodate the exhaust outlets on the GT. You can also spot big Brembo brake calipers hiding behind the larger wheels on this prototype – a hint that there is prototype is more powerful that the current model.
Expect to see the larger wheels and Brembo brake system to stick around, and something tells me the center exhaust layout is here to stay.
So what does all of this mean? Well, it’s enough to confirm that Renault is working on a range-topping version of the Mega ne hatchback. Outside of that, it doesn’t give us a whole lot to go on as far as what the end product will look like. Expect to see the larger wheels and Brembo brake system to stick around, and something tells me the center exhaust layout is here to stay. Up front, expect to see the grille and air dam morph a little to enhance airflow through the engine compartment and radiator core. The front fascia will also support much larger air intakes in the corners to further increase airflow.
The side profile of the car will likely remain the same, but expect to see sportier side skirts, privacy glass, and maybe even chrome trim around the windows on the door. It should also be noted that the RS variant will probably sit about a half inch lower to the ground for better aerodynamics, maneuverability, and a better stance. It will also sport fender flares to compensate for the wider wheels.
Around back, Renault will likely leave the rear fascia the way it is on this prototype, but that insert in the center will be replaced by a diffuser-looking element that supports the center exhaust layout. As such, the capped off hole on each side probably won’t exist on the production version. Outside of all this, there is the potential for a few exterior colors that are unique to the Megane R.S., and the wheel design will likely be changed up before we see an “official” version of the hatch.
We can’t make out anything of the interior from the shots we have now, but there shouldn’t be too much change to the inside anyway. The interior will likely mimic that of the Megane GT. The seats will probably be real racing seats, but outside of that, there shouldn’t be much of a difference. I predict that we may see a flat-bottom steering wheel and some more intricate materials inside – like leather seating, for instance. But, the main layout of the car will remain. It will get the same tablet-looking infotainment system that dominates the center stake, and the digital instrument cluster that gives the Megane a more expensive feel. There will also be an “R.S.” badge wedged into that center spoke on the steering wheel. I expect to see some extra speakers or at least a better quality sound system.
At this time, the drivetrain department remains shielded by a cloud of mystery. We suspect that the next-gen Megan R.S. has the Focus RS in its sights, so 300 horsepower is the minimum we expect to see from this high-strung Megan. Whether or not the Megane R.S. will have all-wheel-drive remains to be seen, but if Renault really wants to take on Ford and its RS, then it will need all four wheels spinning to do it. At this point, I’ll refrain from discussing potential engine size, but expect to see the option of a six-speed manual for those who like to row their own gears and a dual-clutch automatic for those who like to hit the gas and go. I also expect to see an updated suspension and chassis system, but that’s just speculation. Surely, we’ll learn more about this before Renault officially pulls the sheet of the new R.S., so stay tuned for updates.
At this time, it’s rather hard to talk about pricing, but I can speculate a little. We know that the range-topping Megane – the GT Nav trim level – starts out at £25,500 or about $33,866 at current currency exchange rates. With that said, the Focus RS – which we believe to be the target of the new Megane R.S. – starts out at £31,000 or about $41,171. Renault is a smart brand these days, so expect it to undershoot the competition and price the Megane R.S. out at £30,000 or about $39,843.
FORD FOCUS RS
With the Focus RS likely in Renault’s crosshairs, I couldn’t go without listing it as an official competitor. The car is technically still in its third generation, which started back in 2010, but it went through an extensive update for the 2016 model year. With that update came a redesigned front end, new exterior light units, and an overall sportier appearance inside and out. The biggest highlight, however, was the upgraded 2.3-liter EcoBoost that delivers an astonishing 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. It’s enough to get the RS up to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds on the way to a top speed of 165 mph. In the U.S., the Focus RS is priced from $35,900 and in the U.K. it is priced from £31,000.
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF R
To make this a fair fight, I’m also going to throw some German competition into the mix. And, what better model to take on the Megane R.S. than the Volkswagen Golf R. It seems to take a couple of years for the Golf to make it to U.S. Shores, so while the seventh-gen Golf hit Euro dealers in 2013, we didn’t see it here in the U.S. until 2015. The current Golf R is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder than delivers 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. It can hit 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and has a top speed that is limited to 155 mph. The engine is backed by a six-speed manual transmission, and the update suspension system allows the Golf R to dominate in the corners and maneuverability department. At the time of this writing, the Golf R starts out at £31,685 (about $42,080) in the U.K. and more like $35,650 here in the U.S.
It comes as no real surprise that I’m looking at these spy shots. Renault has been busy expanding its lineup, and now that we’ve seen the Megane Estate, Megane GT, and Mega ne Sedan, it’s only right that the brand brings a high-performance variant to the masses. I hope to see it debut with closer to 350 horsepower so it can rightfully take on the Focus RS, but even 325 horsepower would be enough if Renault plays its cards right. Furthermore, all-wheel drive would certainly make the R.S. worthy of praise and consideration by anyone looking to step into the hot hatch market. Renault knows the Hatchback market is full of tough competition, and it shouldn’t have an issue coming correct and providing a worthy competitor. With that said, take a look at the photos we have now, and stay tuned for future updates!
- High performance Megane
- Could compete against the Focus RS
- Potential for 300 horsepower or more
- Won’t survive the market if not handled correctly
- Won’t hit dealers until 2018 model year