The new Renault Megane RS Trophy is the hottest hatchback that America will never see.
Renault is not a carmaker that we hear from much here in North America. They, along with other French carmakers, left in the ‘70s and since they don’t make big pickup trucks or SUVs they’re not expected to ever return.
But Renault is still a giant carmaker along with their allies in Japan (Nissan and Mitsubishi), and they continue to impress the world with sporty and efficient compact cars.
Their most recent example is the Megane RS Trophy, an upgrade of the previous year’s Megane RS. In case you were wondering, RS stands for “Renault Sport” and it has no relation to Ford’s Europe-only hot hatchback, the Focus RS.
Last year, the Megane RS debuted with a 1.8-L turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that put down 276 hp and 288 lb-ft of torque. This year, the Trophy version has 296 hp as well as 295 lb-ft on the manual transmission or 310 lb-ft on the new dual-clutch automatic transmission. Coaxing those extra twenty ponies out of that little engine required an upgraded exhaust system along with a newer, larger turbocharger.
The engine wasn’t the only thing that Renault tweaked. They also went after the ride with a fine tooth comb, stiffening the suspension, tightening the springs, and firming the shocks. There’s even a new Torsen mechanical limited-slip differential to keep the power delivery steady on the front wheels.
In the rear things get even more impressive with rear-wheel steering. The rear wheels will turn in opposite directions at slow speeds for a smaller turning circle or the same direction at high speeds for better grip. This makes the Trophy cling to corners but also makes it easier to park.
We only have numbers for the manual transmission version, which can go from 0-62 mph in 5.7 seconds. Top speed is 162 mph. The dual-clutch automatic transmission is highly likely to be even faster.
The Megane RS Trophy will be available in Europe later this year. We’re also told that Renault has their eyes set on the Honda Civic Type R with an R car of their own: the Trophy-R. Renault hopes to steal Honda’s record for fastest FWD car around the Nurburgring. We wish them the best of luck.