Renault Sets 7:54 Record At Nurburgring
Renault has just regained its Nurburgring record as the fastest production car with front-wheel-drive. As promised earlier this year, the French automaker stormed the German track and lapped the Nordschleife in less than eight minutes with a brand-new iteration of the Renault Megane RS.
The new benchmark was established only a couple of months after Spanish manufacturer Seat put the Leon Cupra atop the front-wheel-drive record list. The hatchback lapped the German course in 7:58.4, stealing a record that has been with Renault for about three years. Renault’s previous accomplishment was achieved with the Megane RS 265 Trophy, a sportier, 265-horsepower version of its Euro-spec C-segment vehicle.
Now, the French reclaimed their Nurburgring crown by using an updated version of the Megane: the RS 275 Trophy-R. Make no mistake though, it’s not the same hot hatch we met last month. The vehicles might be similar in appearance and sport the same engine under the hood, but that extra "R" added to the moniker means the record car is even lighter than the exclusive, limited-run hatch.
What sets the two apart, you may ask? Stick around and you’ll find out.
Click past the jump to read more about Renault’s record at Nurburgring.
Although Renault doesn’t say how much weight the Trophy-R lost in comparison to the RS 275 Trophy, the French stress that the former is about 220 pounds lighter than the stock version. The diet included ditching the rear seats and adding Recaro Pole Position polycarbonate seats up front, as well as fitting a lithium-ion battery and a special braking kit consisting of steel and aluminum discs.
The diet was enough to enable the Megane RS 275 Trophy-R to lap the Nurburgring in 7:54.36 minutes, nearly four seconds faster than the Seat Leon Cupra and almost 14 seconds quicker than the 2011 Megane RS 265 Trophy. So is Renault cheating by breaking the record with a vehicle that’s different than the production RS 275 Trophy? Not at all. The record car is getting a limited-edition run of itself, with 250 units to hit European streets. Yes, America, no soup for you. The Trophy-R isn’t crossing the Pond and you’d better get used to it.
Besides going to fat camp, the Megane RS 275 Trophy-R has a brand-new paint job to brag about. Unlike the non-R version, which carries a bright-yellow livery complemented by grey stripes, the Trophy-R comes in a Pearlescent White with an Etoile Black roof. Additionally, the signature front bumper blade and the body graphics are finished in Vif Red. The 19-inch Speedline wheels covering the huge brake rotors can be had in either black or a matching shade of red.
The interior carries over from the "regular" RS 275 Trophy — not counting the missing rear seats — which means customers will benefit from an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, red seat belts and plenty of contrast stitching. Same goes for the 2.0-liter four-banger that sends 275 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque to the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Also standard on the Trophy-R are the Ohlins Road & Track dampers with composite springs, which are offered only as an option on the Megane RS 275 Trophy.
No word on pricing and availability yet, but Renault says the Trophy-R will go on sale "in some 15 countries," including France.
Why It Matters
The Trophy-R’s sub 8-minute lap time comes to prove that you don’t need a supercar to fly through those difficult Nurburgring curves. Sure, the Renault is nearly one minute slower than the Porsche 918 Spyder, but the German machine fetches nearly $1 million, while the French hatch won’t run more than €45,000 ($61,000 as of 06/16/2014). Of course, there are plenty of sports cars to be had for that amount, but how many of them are actually built using rally racing and Formula One know-how? Watch it in action in the video below and let us know in comments.
Equipped with two extra seats and slightly less standard equipment than its "R"-badged brother, the Megane RS 275 Trophy benefits from the same 275 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. Responsible for the extra ten ponies that set it apart from the 265 Trophy is a lightweight, titanium Akrapovic exhaust system. Besides trimming a few pounds off the car’s overall weight, the new exhaust also delivers a more aggressive note and enhances the vehicle’s rear appearance.
Inside, a set of Recaro bucket seats trimmed in Alcantara and leather are ready to embrace both the driver and the passenger. The Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, the aluminum inserts and the red stitching add a dash of luxury to the hatch and a couple of thousands bucks to the hefty sticker.