What the performance junkies at Renault Sport do with the Twingo, Clio and Mégane isn't news. What is new, however, is a significantly tweaked version of the two-litre turbo RS engine, due to be rolled out across the Mégane RS range in the near future - and available right now in a new flagship model, the Mégane RS Trophy 265.
It'll make its South African debut, appropriately enough, at the 2012 Simola Hillclimb, the action-packed highlight of the annual Knysna Speed Festival.
At the heart of the new flagship RS model is a reworked version of the familiar two-litre, 16-valve engine, running maximum turbo boost of 2.5 bar and a revised air intake design to allow for the extra pressure and higher running temperatures.
That's pushed peak power up from 184 to 195kW at 5500rpm and boosted maximum torque by 20Nm to 360 Nm from 3000-5000rpm, giving the RS Trophy a power-to-weight ratio of 141kW/tonne.
Renault quotes 0-100km/h in six seconds flat (0.1 sec faster than the previous RS Cup), a standing kilometre in 25.4 seconds (0.3sec quicker) and a top send of 254km/h (up 4km/h).
Yet, thanks to improved efficiency, the maker claims lower fuel consumption - 8.2 litres per 100km, 0.2 litre per 100km better than previously.
The new engine makes its debut in the limited-edition RS Trophy 265, but will become available across the regular Mégane RS range, including the Sport and Cup models, in the very near future.
The RS Trophy 265 also comes with the performance-oriented Cup chassis and a limited-slip differential as standard, matched to special Bridgestone Potenza RE050A asymmetric 19” tyres.
All of which adds up to formidable on-the-road performance, good enough to set a new lap record for front-wheel drive cars on the torturous Nürburgring 'Nordschleife' at 8 min07.97sec.
YOU CAN'T MISS IT
The RS Trophy 265 is instantly recognisable by its extensive red-line detailing and special badges, as well as a new rear lip spoiler, 19” gloss black STEEV wheels with red piping, RS valve caps and a numbered plaque.
The RS Trophy's LED daytime running lights incorporated into the F1-style front blade - and some of the Trophy's aerodynamic aids - will also be introduced to the new-generation RS Cup model when it becomes available later this year.
It's available in a special metallic yellow finish, as well as the signature RS colours of white, black and grey.
Inside, leather-clad Recaro bucket seats are complemented by contrasting stitching on the upholstery, steering wheel and gear-lever gaiter.
An RS monitor in the central display provides a range of performance-oriented data for the driver.
This on-board data logging system collects and records driving data from an array of sensors, and the driver is able to scroll through the various functions using the steering wheel remote controls to display a range of vehicle performance data in real time.
It will display the driver's choice of:
Engine function data (turbo pressure, oil temperature) and brakes.
Real-time engine performance data (power, torque).
Transverse and longitudinal acceleration ('G' display).
Stopwatch and lap timer, with memory function.
Performance data, with automatic recording of best 0-100 km/h.
Standing start 400-metre and 1 000-metre times.
The RS Monitor also enables the driver to modify the mapping of the accelerator pedal through five settings, to tailor engine response and acceleration to the conditions and driving style.
SPREADING THE LOVE
While the limited-edition Mégane RS Trophy 265 is the first Renault Sport product to get the updated 195kW engine, it'll be introduced in the Mégane RS Sport and RS Cup models in the second half of 2012.
The Mégane RS Sport 265 will have the standard Sport chassis, large disc brakes with Brembo callipers, lightweight 18” alloys and an EBDL electronic limited-slip differential as standard.
It'll also have Renault's hands-free key card, which operates both the central locking system and the ignition, integrated navigation, a dual-zone climate control system, special Renault Sport leather seats, and a premium Arkamys 3D sound system.
The Mégane RS Cup 265 will have the competition-standard Cup chassis, a mechanical limited-slip differential, special 19” lightweight alloys and red Brembo callipers.
Inside, lightweight Recaro racing seats trimmed in leather keep the occupants firmly in place and dual-zone climate control keeps them cool, while the sport monitor keeps them informed.
Front and side airbags, LED daytime running lights, antilock braking, electronic stability control and traction control are standard across the Mégane Renaultsport range.
Mégane RS Sport - R359 900
Mégane RS Cup - R399 900
Mégane RS Trophy - R409 900