Times are still tough in the automotive industry, prompting several automakers to cut back their racing programs over the past few years. Renault is the latest to join them, selling their F1 team to Lotus. But the French automaker's motorsport division is still glad to sell you what you need to go racing or rallying yourself. They've retasked the department to provide engines to a growing array of F1 teams, and while they were at it, have put together a new rally package as well.
The Megane RS N4 is a tarmac rally machine built to Group N specifications and available to privateer rally teams. Its 2.0-liter turbo four has been upped from 247 horsepower to 265 and packaged with an Ohlins suspension, Sabelt racing buckets, upsized brakes and a limited-slip differential – all of which makes for a compelling package. Check out the full details in the press release after the jump and the images in the gallery below for a closer look.
MEGANE RENAULTSPORT N4 RALLY CAR - SETTING A NEW STANDARD
Noted for its striking design and having won acclaim for the quality of its chassis and engine, Mégane Renaultsport 250 is now to give rise to a rally car, N4, intended for private teams and drivers.
As the only manufacturer to offer a full 'rally' range based on group R regulations, Renault Sport Technologies is now to add Mégane Renaultsport N4 to its line-up. Developed for racing on asphalt, it is set to establish a new standard.
With the same intrinsic qualities as the Mégane Renaultsport 250, the new model draws on a heritage of group N-homologated Renaults stretching back over a quarter of a century: 5 GT Turbo, R11 Turbo, R21 2l Turbo, R19 16V, Clio Williams and Clio Renaultsport.
Intended to keep costs down, group N regulations impose strict rules on the modifications that can be made to the original car. This constraint works to the advantage of the Mégane Renaultsport N4, which gets the full benefit of the technology used on the production model. The PerfoHub independent steering-axis front suspension design has allowed the engineers to put together a chassis that combines traction, directional stability and driving comfort in complete safety. The use of three-way adjustable shock absorbers also allows the settings to be adapted to all types of driving style.
Under the bonnet, the performance of the 2.0-litre 16V turbo engine has been enhanced with an optimised electronic engine control system. Despite regulatory restrictions, the Mégane Renaultsport N4's engine puts out 265hp and torque of 470 Nm. It is linked to a five-speed H-pattern gearbox, developed specifically for this purpose. On the strength of its experience in the field, Renault Sport Technologies has sought to design an innovative, reliable and high-performance package that also takes on board the notion of cost control at every stage of development. The intention is to make Mégane Renaultsport N4 accessible to all drivers, and be both easy to handle and economical to run. Like all of the vehicles in its rally range, Mégane Renaultsport N4 is to be sold by Renault Sport Technologies in the form of a kit comprising all the specific parts.
MÉGANE RENAULTSPORT: THE PINNACLE OF PRODUCTION CARS BY RENAULT SPORT TECHNOLOGIES
Unveiled in 2009, Mégane Renaultsport250 represents the pinnacle of production cars to date by Renault Sport Technologies. Acclaimed by the media and owners alike, it sets itself apart by virtue of its exceptional performance and roadholding. Powered by a four-cylinder 2.0 16V turbo engine generating 250hp and torque of 340 Nm, Mégane Renaultsport also stands out thanks to its characteristic chassis architecture, with the PerfoHub independent steering-axis front suspension which allows the steering and suspension to work independently of each other.
To achieve perfect traction, the gearbox is equipped with a limited slip differential. Recognisable at first glance, the sporty design of Mégane Renaultsport is emphasised by the front bumper with its integrated F1-inspired aerodynamic blade, as well as the rear diffuser and centrally positioned exhaust outlet.
GROUP N: THE SPIRIT OF PRIVATEER RACING
According to the FIA, which determines the technical regulations, group N is open to mass production cars, more than 2,500 identical units of which must be produced over a period of 12 consecutive months. Created in 1982, group N is the category in which the cars are the closest to production models. The regulations permit very few limited modifications in order to keep costs down. Only minor modifications can be made to the engine, for example, compared to the production version - the ECU and exhaust line can be modified in accordance with strict rules. In order to guarantee reliability, the gearbox inners may be specific, but must be mounted in the original casing.
MÉGANE RENAULTSPORT + GROUP N = MÉGANE RENAULTSPORT N4
When developing Mégane Renaultsport N4, Renault Sport Technologies drew on the performance of the production model to derive a car which both performs and is economical to run, all in the spirit of the Group N regulations. Drivers will be in a position to achieve top-class results on tarmac, all within a reasonable and controlled budget. With 265hp to be transferred to the front wheels, the suspension on the Mégane Renaultsport N4 had to be impeccable. Thanks to the PerfoHub set-up and the very latest-generation shock absorbers, roadholding and traction are both equally impressive.
STEER TO PERFECTION
First used at the end of the 1980s on the Superproduction version of the R21 Turbo, the independent steering-axis front axle was first introduced on a production car on the Mégane Renaultsport. By allowing the suspension and steering to work totally independently of each other, this mechanism allows MéganeRenaultsport N4 to benefit from handling and grip of the highest quality.
THE LATEST IN SUSPENSION SYSTEMS
Designed in conjunction with Öhlins, the suspension consists of four spring-shock absorbers using the most recent technologies available. The hydraulic rebound shock absorbers are three-way adjustable (high and low-speed compression, rebound). This allows for a vast range of settings to fit the road profile, level of grip, weather conditions and driving style. The quality of these suspension systems allows drivers to get the most out of the BF Goodrich tyres, mounted on 18-inch rims, and release their full potential on long special stages.
At the front, Mégane Renaultsport N4 is fitted with 355mm-diameter discs and four-piston one-piece calipers. At the rear, the grooved disc taken from the standard production model is fitted with double-piston fixed calipers. As required by racing regulations, the ABS is disabled. Inside the cabin, a limiter system allows the driver to control rear braking pressure. In accordance with the regulations, the master cylinder and pedal assembly are taken from the production model. Essential on hairpins, a vertical lever-operated hydraulic handbrake has been added to the standard braking system.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX: AT THE HEART OF EVERY RENAULT SPORT
One of the major strengths to be carried over from MéganeRenaultsport250 is the F4Rt 1998 cc 16-valve turbocharged engine. With no specific preparation performed on its internal parts, Renault Sport Technologies guarantees control over budget and engine reliability. The main developments are to the engine flywheel and the electronic engine management system developed by Cosworth Electronics to enhance performance despite the adoption of a regulation 33mm turbo restrictor. The engine on the Mégane Renaultsport N4 generates a maximum power output of 265hp from 4000 rpm and maximum torque of 470 Nm at 3000 rpm. In order to optimise performance on special stages, the air intercooler can be sprayed with water. The specific exhaust line incorporates a catalytic converter compliant with FIA standards and an expansion chamber.
GEARBOX SPECIFIC TO THE COMPETITION VERSION
In order to guarantee reliability, the gearbox is the component on which there is the most room for specific preparation. The regulations impose an H layout and the fitting of the gearbox in its original casing.
The gearbox on Mégane Renaultsport N4 is fitted with a self-locking limited slip differential (disc and ramp, «ZF»-type LSD). Several final torque settings enable the final gear ratios to be adjusted according to the specific characteristics of each event. The specific clutch system is supplied by AP Racing. The gearbox is also cooled by an oil radiator.
SAFETY: NO COMPROMISE
A priority in every phase of design and development, safety is an essential part of all the production and competition models developed by Renault Sport Technologies.
The Mégane Renaultsport monocoque has been strengthened and stiffened to bring both active and passive safety close to perfection. The bodyshell is fitted with a welded roll cage, which is compliant with FIA regulations and has been validated by static load calculations. In the cabin, all the compulsory safety equipment is supplied by Sabelt. Two bucket seats fitted with HANS-compatible six-point harnesses, as well as an electrically-controlled automatic fire extinguisher system and a cut-out switch are all included as standard in the Mégane Renaultsport N4 racing kit.
DESIGN AND ERGONOMICS: THE RENAULT SPORT BADGE
Echoing the same sculpted design seen on Mégane Renaultsport250, the rally version emphasises the production model's naturally sporty looks. The only addition is the roof-mounted air intake incorporated into the external lines of the car to distinguish the competition version from the production model. Benefiting from the assuredly sporty look of Mégane Renaultsport250, the N4 version also features the front bumper with an integrated F1-style aerodynamic blade. The centrally-positioned exhaust outlet and rear diffuser also emphasize its shared pedigree with the Mégane Renaultsport. The 18-inch alloy wheels, fitted with BFGoodrich tyres, means the aggressive overall lines have been retained. In the cockpit, once seated in the Sabelt bucket seats, driver and co-driver will find the production dashboard and central console. In addition to the standard equipment, the dashboard on the Mégane Renaultsport N4 also features an LCD screen which provides all the essential information on how the engine is running, as well as a tripmaster and LEDs for optimised gear changes.
TECHNICAL SUPPORT: A TEAM THAT STANDS BY ITS CUSTOMERS
Renault Sport Technologies provides comprehensive technical support for its entire range of racing products. Every year, Renault Sport Technologies' operations engineers are present at dozens of rallies at both national and international level.
Ongoing support, including a hotline available since 2003, ensures that all customers remain in direct contact with Renault Sport Technologies' engineers, either by telephone or email. Available right from the moment the kit is received, this support service means that drivers and teams can benefit from Renault Sport Technologies' expertise and supervision while the car is being assembled. Feedback provided in this way also allows Renault Sport Technologies to gather, analyze and quickly relay any useful information to all of its customers.
An extranet site is also available, where technicians can download technical and sales documentation, technical bulletins, assembly instructions and setup sheets.
N4 Kit Price 57,500 euros, £48,250
Type Steel monocoque with welded roll cage
Layout Front transversally-mounted
Type Renault F4RT RS - 4 cylinders - 16 valve - 1,998cc
Bore x stroke 82.7 x 93 mm
Fuel injection / ignition Cosworth Electronics Management System
Maximum power 265hp from 4,000 rpm
Maximum torque 470 Nm at 3,000 rpm
Maximum revs 6,700 rpm
Type Front-wheel drive
Gearbox 5-speed gearbox + reverse
Layout In H configuration
Differential ZF type, limited slip, self-locking differential
Clutch Hydraulically-controlled single disc
AXLES AND SUSPENSION SYSTEMS
Front PerfoHub independent steering axis suspension, Öhlins double-piston shock absorbers, 3-way adjustable + hydraulic rebound
Rear Programmed deflection, torsion beam suspension with coil springs, Öhlins twin tube shock absorbers, 3-way adjustable + hydraulic rebound
Discs 355 mm ventilated discs (front) and 290 mm solid grooved discs (rear)
Calipers Four-piston one-piece (front) and double-piston one-piece (rear)
WHEELS AND TYRES
Rims 8x18 one-piece aluminium wheels
Tyres BFGoodrich 225/40 R 18
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES
Overall width 1,848mm
Wheel base 2,640mm
Front and rear tracks 1,627mm – 1,600mm
Fuel tank 60 litres
Kerb weight Information available upon FIA homologation