Renault Mégane RS 275 Trophy-R

Clocking a lap time of less than eight minutes on the Nürburgring is a real feat in just about any car. But a front-driver? That's the gauntlet that Seat threw down March when it hustled its new Leon Cupra 280 around the Nordschleife in 7:58.4, knocking Renault off its perch for the quickest front-drive lap of the famous German track. In doing so, Seat practically handed Renault – which had claimed the record time and time again – an embossed invitation to beat its time, and Renault was only too happy to oblige.

The French automaker known overseas as le roi des hot-hatches proclaimed in April that it was gunning for a sub-eight-minute lap time of its own, showed us what it was working on in May and revealed the new Mégane 275 Trophy just a month ago. The enhanced hot hatch, we assumed, would be the one with which it would reclaim its title, but that job actually belongs to the even more extreme version you see here.

Called the Mégane RS 275 Trophy-R, Renault's new flagship performance model takes the place once occupied by the previous Mégane R26.R as the ultimate front-drive track tool. Its 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four is tuned to the same 275 horsepower as the aforementioned 275 Trophy and packs the same Cup chassis, limited-slip differential, titanium Akrapovic exhaust, Öhlins adjustable dampers and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, but does away with the rear seats, replaces the front ones with Recaro composite racing buckets and six-point harnesses, fits a lightweight lithium-ion battery and replaces the stock brakes with larger but lighter steel and aluminum discs.

As a result, Renaultsport has managed to trim over 200 pounds off the curb weight, which helped the Trophy-R clock a lap time of 7:54.36, making it 14 seconds quicker than the previous Mégane RS Trophy, over four seconds quicker than the Leon, and the quickest front-drive vehicle ever to lap the Nordschleife. For now, anyway, until Seat takes another stab at it, or another rival (like Honda or Opel) get in on the action.

Renault will only build 250 of these for customers in 15 countries (most if not all of them members of the EU, we're sure), complete with the 19-inch Speedline wheels and optional black, white and red livery pictured here. Watching the footage of the record-setting lap, then, will probably be as close as most of us get to seeing what the new king of the hot hatches can do, so check it out in the video along with the press release below and the fresh gallery of high-resolution images above.

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June 16, 2014
7m54.36s: new lap record at the Nürburgring for Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R

#Under8... Renault Sport vowed it would be done, and the sportiest Mégane has duly added a third lap record round the Nürburgring's legendary Nordschleife to its impressive list of achievements. The feat was accomplished by an all-new limited-edition model imbued with a radical philosophy: Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R.
* 7m54.36s: That is the new lap record for the Nürburgring's iconic north loop – the fearsome Nordschleife – set by Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R in the category for two wheel-drive production vehicles.
* 2: The number of seats in Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R.
* 250: The number of examples of this (ultra) limited-edition series that will go on sale in some 15 countries. Depending on market, a 'record'-specification version of the model will be available from the start of orders. Order books for Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R will open soon in France.

Having established records with Mégane R26.R in 2008 and Mégane R.S. Trophy in 2011, the engineers at Renault Sport were not content to rest upon their laurels. With a lap time of 7m54.36s, Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R engraved its name and performance potential in the Nürburgring's history books right from its very first official outing.

A radical limited-edition, ideal for circuit use
Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R is a two-seater derivative of the recently-introduced Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy.

This exclusive new Renault Sport limited-edition benefits from ultra-sporty features inherited from the brand's racing activities, while a loss of almost 100 kilograms has resulted in enhanced performance.

Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R comes as standard with the Cup chassis (complete with limited-slip differential), the 2.0-litre petrol R.S. engine boosted to 275bhp, a titanium Akrapovic exhaust system, 'Öhlins RoadTrack' one-way adjustable dampers with composite springs and MICHELIN Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres that are specifically-adapted to the car.

Whilst Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R manages without rear seats, in the front can be found Recaro Pôle Position polycarbonate monocoque seats, which yield a weight saving of 42 kilograms. These are fitted with a three-point seat belt, but a six-point harness with aviation-style buckle is available as an accessory. A retention beam and safety nets protect passengers from moving luggage.
For track-day fans eager to gain several vital seconds over the course of a lap, the use of a lithium-ion battery trims the overall weight by another 16 kilograms.

To ensure high-performance braking whilst at the same time contributing to the weight-shedding effort, Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R benefits from a special braking kit. Its 350/28-diameter steel and aluminium discs bring the car's weight down by a further three kilograms. Ideally adapted to intensive circuit use, these Renault Sport-etched brakes endow the vehicle with a sharper bite.

An ultra-sporty stance
On the outside, Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R sports a new two-tone colour scheme, with an Etoilé Black roof mated with a Pearlescent White finish (optional). The Trophy-R branded F1-type front blade, chequered flag graphic at the bottom of the front doors and graphics on the side of the car are all picked out in Vif Red. Finished off with 19-inch black or red Speedline wheel rims, this is a vehicle that sets itself apart as much on the circuit as on the open road.

The exclusivity of Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R similarly stands out in details like its Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel and handbrake bellows, leather gearshift knob and red seatbelts which match the visible stitching of the seats and steering wheel.

7m54.36s: A new record eloquent of Renault Sport's expertise
Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R benefits from the experience acquired by Renault's engine and chassis engineers in motorsport – from rallying to Formula 1.

This 14-seconds improvement on the previous record set by Mégane R.S. Trophy in 2011 was achieved thanks to the commitment of the teams at Renault Sport Technologies and their partners.

Hundreds of hours of prior testing were conducted in France, Spain and Germany to optimise the development of this limited-edition model that boasts exceptional on-road dynamics.

The new lap record established by Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R underscores once again the knowhow and expertise of the specialists at Renault Sport Technologies when it comes to designing outstanding affordable sporting cars.

A comprehensive press pack on the limited-edition Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R and 'the story behind' the new record is available on Renault's media website: www.media.renault.com
See the video of the lap record on: http://youtu.be/02cpzgoVqC4