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Renault Megane Trophy: French Mid-Engined Hot-Hatch Madness For The Track

Illustration for article titled Renault Megane Trophy: French Mid-Engined Hot-Hatch Madness For The Track

Meet the latest in a long line of terrifying mid-engined French hot-hatches, the Renault Megane Trophy. The Trophy, revealed today at the Paris Motor Show, is just like the new 2009 Renault Megane, but completely different. The French unquestionably know how to make a great hot hatch, but if there's one thing they do even better it's taking those little cars and sticking a big engine where the back seat is supposed to go. Inside, you'll find a 3.5-liter Nissan-sourced V6 tuned to churn out 360 HP. That power is sent to the rear wheels via a paddle-shift sequential gearbox, resulting in performance that Renault claims is on par with the Porsche 911 GT3. The only problem is that it's not road car, and is destined only to compete in a spec-series for the car. Press release after the jump.

NEW MEGANE TROPHY: ON TRACK FOR THE 2009 WORLD SERIES BY RENAULT Having starred in the World Series by Renault's premier saloon car championship since the creation of the WSR in 2005, Megane Trophy has undergone a raft of radical modifications in readiness for the 2009 campaign. The most visible change concerns its new body design which takes its inspiration from the lines of New Megane Coupe. Under the bonnet, a fresh look has also been taken at the Renault-Nissan Alliance's V6 3.5 24V powerplant which now delivers 360hp. At the same time, Renault Sport Technologies has carried over many of the acclaimed features of the current Megane Trophy to produce a reliable, competitive and affordable racing car. There can be no mistaking New Megane Trophy's resolutely sporty calling and pedigree thanks its stunning looks which are based on the design of New Megane Coupe. The front and rear light units and windscreen are those of the road car, while the designers at the Renault Technocentre have made full use of digital simulation technology in the realm of fluid mechanics to hone the flowing lines of the bodywork. New Megane Trophy also carries over the ground effect aerodynamics of the existing car: - The front splitter channels airflow to the extractors, - Rear downforce is generated by the diffuser and wing. Refinements to the set-up have produced a 20% improvement in downforce and a 15% reduction in drag which, together, represent a gain of almost 40% in terms of the new car's aerodynamic performance over the previous generation machine. New Megane Trophy is equipped with butterfly doors redolent of the world of GT and sports-prototype racing. Under its composite outer skin, New Megane Trophy features the same mechanicals as the current car, including an FIA-homologated sports-prototype tubular chassis, a mid-rear V6 3.5 24V engine, a semiautomatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddle shift, double wishbone suspension with adjustable dampers, 18-inch wheels and Michelin tires, etc. A new inlet manifold, which is fed by roof-mounted air-ducts, has taken engine power from 330 to 360hp. The new car's reliability is as excellent as ever with rebuild intervals of every 5,500km. Combined with the aerodynamic gains, the extra power output of the V6 3.5 24V engine will enable New Megane Trophy to lap in times similar to those of a Porsche GT3. After completion of its development program, New Megane Trophy will go on sale at the end of the year in the form of a kit that will enable existing cars to be upgraded. The modifications required to adapt the chassis to the new bodywork will be carried out by the Alpine factory in Dieppe. As in previous years, the Eurocup Megane Trophy will form part of the World Series by Renault program and its calendar takes in some of Europe's most prestigious venues. This single-make series, which is a hit with drivers and teams alike, is based on the same core strengths that have forged the success of Renault Sport's race championships, namely: - A perfectly level playing field thanks to rigorous scrutineering checks and the outlawing of tuning of the majority of components, - Contained costs thanks to restrictions relating to tires and private testing, - Extensive media coverage thanks to live television, plus the opportunity to race in meetings that have attracted two million spectators since 2005. In the course of each race weekend, drivers contest two races of a duration of approximately 40 minutes each and which include a mandatory refuelling stop. Megane Trophy has been widely praised for its simplicity and the ease with which drivers are able to familiarize themselves with the cars, while the series is aimed at upcoming youngsters who have come up through the ranks of single-seater formulae and gentleman drivers.


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Jeff Glucker

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