NOW that France has Soccer’s World Cup, it’s an appropriate time to take a look at more things French — such as Renault’s all-new Megane RS.
It goes on sale in Australia in September, priced from $44,990.
Under le snoot is a new 205kW 1.8-litre engine, the most powerful of its size on the market.
It has a new cylinder head, reinforced structure and more efficient cooling, plus surface treatments usually seen on racing engines, such as a diamond-like carbon coating for the valve lifters and mirror bore coating for the cylinder sleeves.
The new bits result in a peak torque of 390Nm from 2400 to 4800rpm.
The French hot hatch has a lot more Renault Sport technology built into its shapely body, including 4Control four-wheel steering, an RS monitor and the option of either manual or EDC automatic transmission.
At more than 60km/h, or 100km/h in Race mode, the front and rear wheels turn in the same direction for increased stability.
Below those speeds they turn in the opposite direction to give increased agility, particularly through tight corners.
The four-wheel steer system helps drivers to put the car on the right line through corners and to accelerate out as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
There are two chassis options: Sport or Cup.
The Sport chassis is for people who like a sporty, but still refined, drive.
For more focused drivers, the Cup’s the one. It has revised springs, dampers and bump stops – and is 10 per cent stiffer than the Sport chassis.
Its new Torsen mechanical limited slip diff provides different lock-up values under acceleration and deceleration for enhanced traction and higher cornering speeds.
Also, its Brembo braking system has been improved, with more power and endurance and the front discs that have been increased by 15mm to 355mm.
For serious sporty types who want some track action, there’s the $1490 Cup Chassis Pack, which includes Brembo’s bi-material (aluminium/cast iron) discs which are 1.8kg lighter, with superior cooling properties.
The EDC transmission has a choice of modes for all sorts of conditions: Comfort and Normal for smooth changes in everyday driving, Sport for quicker gear changes and a bit more engine audio, and Race for the quickest and most efficient gear changes.
It also has Multi-Change Down and Launch Control Renault Sport technologies to enhance the driving experience.
If you plan to do some night driving, RS Vision is a full LED lighting system, combining four lights into one housing shaped into the Renault Sport chequered flag motif.
The housing contains side lights, fog lights, cornering lights and high beam and enables high performance at night. They have 17 per cent more range than the previous RS.
There’s more magique in features such as the RS Monitor and RS Multi-Sense.
The Monitor uses 40 sensors and R-Link 2 to display data on acceleration, braking, wheel angle, 4Control, temperature, lap times and speed.
Multi-Sense is Renault’s driving technology system and controls the engine response, accelerator mapping, gear shift patterns (with EDC), steering stiffness and ambient lighting.
Inside are chrome-plated RS door sills, custom roof lining and sports seats with dark carbon upholstery and a Nappa perforated leather steering wheel and gear shift gaiter.
Outside, the all-new Megane RS is recognised by its gun metal grey, F1-style blade and honeycomb grille and rear bumper with diffuser and central exhaust and rear spoiler.
The car runs on Interlagos 19-inch alloys and comes with front, rear and side parking sensors, rear parking camera, 8.7-inch vertically mounted touchscreen with satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, handsfree keycard with automatic locking, Easy Park Assist handsfree parking, heated folding electric door mirrors, Hill Start Assist, ESC, ABS, Blind Spot Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, distance warning and automatic emergency braking.
Is it really all that quick?
Have a look at the front-wheel drive records for the Nurburgring’s Nordschleife circuit.
Meganes have been setting records there since 2008, the last one in 2014, when a Megane RS 275 Trophy-R scorched around in 7 minutes 54 seconds – breaking the 8-minute barrier for the first time in a production front-wheel drive vehicle.
Money time: A Megane RS 280 with manual transmission is priced from $44,990 and the one with EDC is $47,490.
If you have a few more dollars left, you can opt for stuff like metallic paint, red brake callipers, black alloys, Alcantara trim, a Bose audio system and/or a panoramic sunroof.