Wednesday, July 23, 2008

London 2008: Renaultsport Megane R26.R

While most of our recent hot hatch affection has been aimed at the Ford Focus RS, Renault brought its own racy three-door to the London Motor Show party, and now we're torn. Admittedly, the Focus RS is easily the more suitable day-to-day driver – it's got a full interior and air conditioning -- but the Renaultsport Megane R26.R has all the kit for a serious track-day assault. Hell, it even has two Rs in its name.

With the new Megane slated to appear at this year's Paris Motor Show, Renault wanted to give the current model a fitting send off. To that end, it took the existing Megane F1 Team R26, left the engine, gearbox and limited slip differential intact, modified the suspension and hacked off 271 pounds from its curb weight. The diet included the removal of the rear seats, passenger side airbag, climate control, fog lamps, headlight washers, rear windscreen wiper and the majority of the soundproofing material. In exchange, the R26.R received a carbon fiber hood, polycarbonate quarter and rear windows and a titanium exhaust.

Inside, the Renaultsport hatch makes the RS look positively pedestrian, with a set of carbon fiber Sabelt seats, six-point harnesses, leather and suede swathed steering wheel and gear knob, and an optional four-point roll cage. While output remains the same, at 230 hp and 229 lb.-ft. of torque, the stripped R26.R lapped the Nurburgring in 8:17 – a new lap record for a front wheel drive production car.

Only 450 examples will be made available when sales begin in the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and Spain this October. And unlike the Chevy Camaro, Renault released a video of the R.26R doing it's thing around the 'Ring... three seconds faster. Check it, along with the press release, below the fold.