Even towards the end of its life, the last Megane Renault Sport was a masterclass in how a hot hatchback should feel. Yes, there were faster and more extreme cars in the class by then, but none had quite the delicacy, so don’t be put off by the fact the new one - revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show today - has ‘only’ 276bhp to play with. Because if it’s anything like the old one, it should be deliriously good to drive.
Things are certainly looking promising under the bonnet: gone is the old 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four, replaced with a new 1.8-litre unit. It’s the same basic engine as the gnarly sounding four-pot in the new Alpine A110, and as well as 276bhp, it puts out 288lb ft of torque.
The thrust is sent exclusively to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or - for the first time in one of these cooking Meganes - a six-speed automatic, complete with launch control system. The standard car makes do with an open differential, but if you spec the more focused ‘Cup’ chassis, you get a Torsen limited-slip differential.
All cars get hydraulic bump stops, as well as ‘4Control’ all-wheel steering, which sees the rear wheels angle in the opposite direction to the fronts at lower speeds to help agility, while adding stability at higher speeds by turning the rears in the same direction.
The bodywork has been suitably beefed up - it’s now 60mm wider at the front and 45mm wider at the rear compared to a Megane GT. Extra marks must be awarded for the gigantic rear diffuser, and the fabulous ‘RS Vision’ light arrangement in the lower front grilles.
On the inside you’ll find sports seats with integrated headrests, and a whole lot of red stitching. The cabin can either be specced with a “‘carbon fibre weave” finish, or festooned with Alcantara.
Want one? It goes on sale in the UK during Spring 2018 for around £28,000. Or if you don’t mind waiting a little while, a Trophy version will be making an appearance nearer the end of next year, with 296bhp and - we’re predicting - some front-wheel drive Nurburgring bragging rights.