Renault may exhume Alpine brand from the grave

September 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Renault has recently revealed that it’s developing an all-new sports car and is considering resurrecting a brand that has been dormant for almost 20 years – Alpine.

Speaking at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week, Renault product manager Beatrice Foucher said that the next-generation Megane and Laguna will be built on a common C/D platform and this same platform will spawn a sports car. “We need conventional cars as well as innovative cars”, Foucher said. “It’s very early, but we will have at least one coupe in the line-up off the new platform.”

Foucher went on to state, “We’re working on an Alpine. It’s a possibility and we’re looking at what an Alpine would be in a RenaultSport line-up.”

It may be time for this once famous car brand to return. For those who are unfamiliar with Alpine- here’s a brief history lesson.

Alpine was originally founded in 1955 by Jean Redele, who used a humble Renault 4CV to build small coupes with a glass fibre body and stiffened chassis. Its first model was the A106, a small coupe based on a 4CV. In the 1960s, Alpine started a closer cooperation with Renault taking part in motorsport events and achieving success. Continue reading “Renault may exhume Alpine brand from the grave” »

Renault Megane RS Trophy claims FWD record at the ‘Ring

June 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Renault has further pushed its claim of having the world’s hottest hatch by lowering its own longstanding lap record for a front-wheel drive production car at the Nordschleife. Renault first achieved this title in June 2008 when its Megane RenaultSport (RS) Trophy special claimed ultimate front-driving bragging rights.

The 197kW Megane RS took just  8 minutes and 7.97 seconds to lap the Nürburgring racetrack beating the time of the previous generation Mégane Renaultsport R26.R by 9 seconds. By comparison, another higher-powered hottest hatch contender the Ford Focus RS took 8 minutes and 26 seconds to complete a lap back in 2009.

The new record was set by Renault Sport’s development driver Laurent Hurgon, who understandably talked the car up, “The carefully-tuned Cup chassis, the dampers, the fade-resistant brakes, the Recaro seats, the power of the 265hp engine, the ready availability of torque between 2,500 and 5,000rpm and the car’s Bridgestone RE 050A (235/35 R19) tyres allowed me to make the most of the car’s enormous potential, especially into and out of the corners.”

The Trophy is a special edition of the standard Megane RS, power is increased by 11kW and torque by 20Nm through engine tweaks. The Trophy also comes standard with Formula 1-inspired Bridgestone Potenza RE050A high-performance tyres which may have made a big difference. Continue reading “Renault Megane RS Trophy claims FWD record at the ‘Ring” »

Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup vs Ford Focus RS

December 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

The chase is on around the Millbrook testing ground

What’s chasing the Ford Focus RS?

December 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

So what is keeping on the tail of the 300hp Ford Focus RS?

Renault bringing back Gordini Performance

November 13th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Gordini teaser

French carmaker Renault has recently announced it will restore the iconic Gordini Performance nameplate and launch a line of Gordini-badged models next year.

Named after Renault racing engineer extraordinaire Amedee Gordini, the Gordini badge became a symbol of success for the French automaker. The R8 Gordini dominated rallying in the mid-Sixties and gave birth to its own one-model series with the Renault 1300 Gordini. Now, over forty years later, Renault is bringing the name back for an exclusive new line of hot hatches.

Positioned above the existing Renaultsport lineup, the Gordini range will be mechanically identical to its RS counterparts, but distinguish themselves with retro styling touches (like French racing blue paint scheme with white stripes) and an extra dose of exclusivity. The first product in the new range, the Twingo Gordini RS, is slated to be unveiled at L’Atelier Renault — the company’s flagship store on the Champs Elysees in Paris — on November 25 before its market launch next spring. Gordini edition Clio and Megane are slated to follow suite, all decked out in the sub-brand’s signature French racing blue with white racing stripes.

Renault releases updated Clio Renaultsport 200

May 6th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Renaultsport Clio fq

Renaultsport’s latest hot hatch now comes with 200 ponies packed beneath the bonnet. While this is only three more horses than the Clio 197 version on which it’s based and replaces, Renault’s performance and motorsport divisions have worked hard to improve the aerodynamics and cut weight to make the extra power count even more.

Reflecting the mid-cycle facelifting of the entire Clio range, the Clio RS 200 and 200 Cup apparently benefit from Renault’s Formula One program, which brought the aerodynamic expertise implemented on its latest hot hatch. Air passes over the front splitter to feed the the revised 200-hp, 2.0-litre 16-valve four-cylinder engine, but it also surges underneath to the flat rear bottom and rushes out the rear diffuser. The aerodynamic enhancements helps give the car an even more agressive look, while customers can choose from a wider colour palette, contrasting with either black or anthracite-finish trim.

Inside the Clio has a compact steering wheel with perforated leather trim with a yellow strip to show when it’s centered, and Recaro seats are available along with leather upholstery. The new Clio Renaultsport 200 starts selling next month in the UK at £16,570 ($43,000 NZ), while hardcore enthusiasts can get the stripped-down Cup version for £15,750 ($40,930 NZ).

Hottest Renault Megane ever the R26.R

July 24th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Renault has released the hottest Megane to date, the R26.R, which features a stripped and caged interior (ala Porsche GT3 RS) with sport seats and the promise of high thrills for a resonable price.

Only 450 of these cars will be built with the allocation for each country shown on a plate inside the car.

This Megane is one serious road car with full racing harness and polycarbonate rear and side windows added for lightness. This is one tough French car that we will unfortunately have to miss out on as there are no plans to bring it to New Zealand officially. Prices in the UK start at NZ$62,000 before options.

View the press release below

The Megane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26 was launched in November 2006 and has enjoyed a great success. Using this base, Renaultsport launch an extreme version, the Megane Renaultsport R26.R. Developed by Renault Sport Technologies, the Megane R26.R joins the family that also comprises the Clio Renaultsport 197, Megane Renaultsport 225, Megane Renaultsport dCi 175 and, from September, the Twingo Renaultsport 133. Since the launch in April 2004, the family of Megane Renaultsport has sold more than 20,000 units in almost 30 countries.

The launch of this ultimate version underlines Renault Sport Technologies’ role as a leading manufacturer of high performance cars.

Megane R26.R has been developed to:

* offer customers who enjoy trackdays a car with an unrivalled performance per pound ratio

* be an enthusiast’s icon

Radical looks

Renault Sport Technologies have given the Megane R26.R visual differences that mark out the car at first glance. The carbon fibre bonnet and new 18″ alloy wheels in red are the main visual clues together with a new rear spoiler, plus R26.R decals and logos and tinted polycarbonate in place of glass in the tailgate and rear side windows. The car is available in seven colours, two of which are new to the Megane, Racing Blue and Renault i.d. Lunar Grey and one is brand new, Renault i.d. Pearlescent White.

Inside the R26.R the atmosphere is as radical as the outside. Competition seats with a carbon fibre shell are supplied by Sabelt who also supply the six-point harnesses, the first time that this form of restraint has been homologated in a production car.  Conventional lap and diagonal seat belts can be fitted as an accessory. No rear seat is fitted. The steering wheel and gearlever gaiter are in leather and suede. A plaque shows the production number for each country:

* 230 for the UK

* 126 for France

* 26 for Spain

* 26 for Spain

* 26 for Germany

Lightweight DNA

To improve the power to weight ratio, the Megane R26.R has been on a strict diet, losing 123kg compared to the standard R26.   This has been achieved by the removal of:

* Rear seats and seat belts

* Passenger airbag and curtain airbags (the driver’s airbag remains)

* Climate control (air conditioning remains as standard)

* Rear wash/wipe and heated rear window

* Front fog lamps

* Headlamp washers

* Radio/CD player

* Most of the soundproofing

Other new elements are:

* carbon fibre bonnet (saves 7.5kg)

* tailgate and rear side windows in polycarbonate (saves 5.7kg)

* Sabelt seats with carbon fibre shell and aluminium base (saves 25kg)

* Six-point harnesses

* Rear spoiler

* Optional roll cage

* Optional titanium exhaust

A chassis without compromise

The suspension and brakes have been optimised to make the most of the new, lighter weight and to provide maximum performance. The front independent suspension is maintained but with the following new parts:

* new front springs (14mm/100kg compared to 13.4mm/100kg)

* new rear springs (16.2mm/100kg from 15.1mm/100kg)

* the shock absorber settings are also re-calibrated

* the brake discs are grooved, not drilled

* new alloy wheels are fitted with a different offset increasing the track by 4mm

* Toyo Proxes R888 225/40R18 tyres are available as an option in place of the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 2 235/40R18

* Stiffer lower arm bushes

To guarantee the best possible traction, the R26.R retains the limited slip differential from the Megane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26. This is a mechanical differential with helical teeth and retains the same transfer rate of 33%. The combination of this limited slip differential and independent steering-axis front suspension minimises torque steer and enables power to be applied earlier during cornering.

A performance car needs brakes that are both powerful and fade-resistant. The Megane R26.R has large 312mm ventilated discs at the front with Brembo four-piston callipers that provide stopping power at the highest level.  To resist fade, the discs are grooved as opposed to drilled.

The R26.R takes its engine and gearbox from the Megane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26. This develops a peak power of 230hp and torque of 310Nm. A characteristic of this engine is the wide power band, with 90% of the torque available from 2000 to 6000rpm.

However, to reduce the gear change time, a short-shift gear linkage is fitted.

The R26.R accelerates from zero to 62mph in 6 seconds and passes the 1000 metre mark in 25.9 seconds. The combined fuel consumption is 33.2 mpg and emissions are 199g/km.

Nürburgring lap record

On 23 June, the Megane R26.R established a new lap record for a front wheel drive production car of the Nürburgring circuit with a time of just 8 minutes 17 seconds.  To commemorate this exceptional level of performance, the circuit outline and lap time is etched into the rear side windows.

The Megane R26.R goes on sale in October limited to just 450 examples in total.

Price and optional equipment

The Megane R26.R is £22,990 on the road.  The pricing for the optional equipment is:

* Roll cage and Toyo Proxes tyres           £700

* Titanium exhaust                                 £tbc

* Deletion of decals                                No charge

* Black alloy wheels                               £120

* Climate control                                    £460

* Metallic paint                                      £375

* Renault i.d. Glacier White                    £150

* Renault i.d. Pearlescent Paint              £1200

Technical Specification



Type number






IF Euro4


4 cylinders in line




Iron / Aluminium



Compression ratio


Maximum power (hp)

230 @ 5500 rpm

Maximum torque

310Mn @ 3000 rpm

Injection type



Unleaded 95 or 98 RON





6 speed

Limited slip differential


Drive ratio


Gear ratios

@ 1000 rpm


13/41    5.7mph


18/35    9.2mph


28/39   12.8mph


36/38    16.9mph


42/34    22.1mph


49/33    26.5mph

Suspension – front


MacPherson strut type with L shaped lower arm and independent steering axis

Anti-roll bar diameter mm


Flexibility (mm/100kg)


Natural frequency (Hz) VODM+2


Roll centre height (mm)


Unsprung weight (kg)


Suspension – rear


Torsion beam

Flexibility (mm/100kg)


Natural frequency (Hz) VODM+2


Roll centre height (mm)


Unsprung weight (kg)



Type de freinage

Double x-circuit split

Front discs (diameter and width in mm)

312 / 28 – ventilated and grooved

Calliper – front

Brembo 4 pistons

Rear discs (diameter and width in mm)

300 / 11 – grooved

Calliper – rear

1 piston


Bosch 8.0


Yes / 100% disconnectable




Number of turns lock to lock


turning circle between kerbs/walls m

10,35 / 11,25



Michelin Pilot Sport 2 – 235/40 R18 95Y
Toyo Proxes R888 – 225/40 R18 92Y (option)

Alloy wheels

Interlagos 8J18 ET 66

Spare wheel



Length / width / height mm

4228 / 1777  / 1437

Wheelbase mm


Track front / rear mm

1517 / 1521

Weight kg

kerb weight


Distribution front / rear (%)


Gross train weight


Fuel capacity litres



Aerodynamics (Cd/Cda)

0,35 / 0,75

Top speed



0 to 62mph


standing 400m


standing 1000m



urban mpg


extra-urban mpg


combined mpg


emissions CO2 (g/km)


Renault Megane Renaultsport F1 Team R26 2007 Review

February 2nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Megane Renaultsport F1 Team R26 2007 fq

It was a controversial season for Formula 1 last year. A rookie genius pipped at the post by a blond robot that never smiles; allegations of spying, with a huge penalty against one team that had another’s material, but not the other team that did. And it’s the other team (Renault) that supplied the car I’m thrashing about in today: the Megane Renaultsport F1 Team R26.

Apart from the badges and livery it’s about as far from Formula 1 as Pope Alexander is from Chuck Norris. Sure, you get a plaque near the handbrake that gives the build number and some truly hideous stickers on the outside to remind you that Alonso might have even heard of this model, but the only Fernando you’re likely to have in the car with you is when playing Abba. Renault is hoping for a revival of its fortunes with the arrival of its flagship sporty hot hatch to New Zealand. It won’t appeal to dancing queens, but it is perfect for the professional thirty-something who is after something different to a Japanese rice rocket; something that has a bit of style and panache, doesn’t compromise on the power front, but is almost sensible.

Almost is the key word here, because you could buy the amazing Subaru WRX and have enough spare change for a holiday to watch the Rally of Wales. But you want a Euro, not a Japper, so it’s a damn good job the R26 performs brilliantly. The handling is truly fantastic, even though it feels heavy. A red-stitched line marks centre on the leather wrapped steering wheel to add a sporty touch, but the wheel sits smack in front of a sea of boring grey plastic. The radio’s readout appears on an orange LCD at the top centre of the dash, and the radio itself is the faceplate from the Clio. Kind of boring, but functional enough. Just below that is a small LCD for the climate control. In between the rev counter and speedometer is yet another LCD that displays the cruise control speed (able to be set in increments of 2kph, fuel economy, distance to empty, trip distance and average speed).

For a car with these pretensions the dashboard lets it down. So, best you focus on the road because corners can be dispatched quickly and require concentration. The suspension copes with sharp steering inputs while you are held in place in the bucket seats. These seats aren’t as deep as your usual Jap turbo, but still provide enough lateral support.

On my test route of tricky corners and traffic islands it was very, very fast and nimble with just a hint of understeer when pushed. 235/35R18 tyres help immensely. They wrap the 12-spoke mags that conceal the red Brembo callipers and sit perfectly in the wheel arches which makes the black car look fabulous, but the yellow car look a bit nose heavy.

An engineer from Jaguar once said that 220hp is the maximum that should go through the front wheels alone. This is because they have to cope with changing direction as well as pulling the car forwards, and it’s always a compromise. The R26’s 225hp (160kW) is right on the limit and you can feel it with the torque steer generated when you push hard on the drilled aluminium accelerator pedal. It’s no worse than any other front-wheel drive car, though, and I didn’t let it stop me exploring the limits. Renault has managed to create a non-offensive, woolly, boring engine tone that is no match for the XR5’s Alfa Romeo-style growl. But at least there’s no turbo whine like the XR5 has. I would suggest a new exhaust if you are serious, and that may even liberate some more horsepower.

Deceleration is as impressive as acceleration. The brakes are extremely keen and I had to adjust my heel-toe technique to avoid breaking my nose on the windscreen. The handbrake is also extreme. Its handle is like the throttle on a jet aircraft and seemed to allow more power to be applied to it.

Buy the F1 and you get 3 doors, which says that you’re young and virile with no kids. Buy the 5-door RS 225 for an extra two grand and you get leather seats and a more family friendly package.

Would I have the Renaultsport F1 Team R26 over its non-Japanese competitors — the Ford Focus XR5 and VW Golf GTI? I immediately liked the XR5 — the power, the styling, and especially the engine note. The seats are better than the Megane, and so are the dashboard, mags and general interior fitout. But despite the truly splendid engine tone the annoying turbo whistle bugged me far too much — there was no escape from it. So, the Megane R26 F1 wins out over the Ford, and it even wins out over Volkswagen’s very competent GTI despite the Golf having the DSG gearbox because there are just too many Golfs around — the Megane is more individual. The only things I really couldn’t live with on the R26 are the boring woolly engine tone and the ghastly optional stickers. Nothing an exhaust and some foresight when ordering one wouldn’t fix. My final verdict is Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!

Price: from $49,990 ($51,990 for the 5-door with leather seats)

What we like

  • Power
  • Comfort
  • Styling (in black; yellow doesn’t look so good)
  • Grip
  • Brakes
  • Handbrake — all cars should have one like this

What we don’t like

  • Lose the stickers
  • Change the exhaust
  • Low rent dashboard
  • Front-wheel drive traction issues cause torque steer

Words Darren Cottingham, photos Brad Lord

Safety and Security

Five Star Euro NCAP Safety Rating

Survival safety passenger cell with front and rear crumple zones

Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with understeer control Sports-tuned

ABS brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) S

Driver and front passenger adaptive SRS airbags

Driver and passenger lateral SRS airbags

Side SRS curtain airbags (cabin length)

Anti-submarining airbags for front seats

Programmed Restraint System (PRS)

Front/outer rear seatbelt pretensioners

Load force limiters in front seatbelts

3 rear 3-point lap-sash seatbelts

ISOFIX child seat mounting points

Side impact bars and honey combed padding in doors

Fuel cut-off in event of impact

Remote central locking

Door open and fasten seatbelt indicators

Electric front windows (One touch and anti-pinch)

Electric variable power assisted steering

Light sensitive automatic headlights

‘See me home’ function headlights

Rain sensitive automatic wipers

‘Smart’ rear wiper

Cruise control with speed limiter

Comfort and Versatility

Upholstery Cloth – Dark charcoal with silver stitching

Leather wrap steering wheel and gear lever cover

Automatic climate control air-conditioning

Air recycling and particle filter

Air-chilled glove box

AM/FM stereo with CD and finger tip control Single CD (MP3 compatible)

‘Clean Hands’ integrated fuel filler cap

60/40 split fold rear seats

Height adjustment on driver’s seat

Lumbar adjustment on driver’s seat

Adjustable front and rear head restraints ‘Anti-whiplash’

Drilled aluminium pedals

Front and rear armrests

Under floor storage

Tinted Glass

Height and reach adjustable steering column

Steering column mounted audio controls

Renault F1 Team Plaque

Trip computer and outside temperature gauge


Electronic engine immobiliser

Keyless car with Renault card

Renault Anti-Intruder Device (RAID) automatic locking system


Body coloured bumpers, inserts and bodyside protection mouldings

Electric, foldable, heated door mirrors

Chrome door handles

Chrome double outlet exhaust

Fog lamps

Metallic paint

Renault F1 Team decals on the front, roof, sides, and rear bumpers

Wheels Renault Sport 18″ grey BeBop alloy wheels

Xenon headlights with washers

Seating Capacity

No. of seats 5


Capacity (cc): 1998

Bore x stroke (mm): 82.7 x 93

Number of cylinders/valves: 4/16

Compression ratio: 9:1

Max. power kW EEC (hp) at a speed of (rpm) 168 (230) @ 5500

Max. torque Nm at a speed of (rpm) 310 @ 3000

Acceleration 0-100km/h (secs) 6.5

Type of injection: Multipoint

Fuel: Unleaded (Premium rec.)

Induction: Intercooled Turbo

Exhaust catalyst: Euro IV


Type 6-speed Manual

Speeds (km/h) at 1000 rpm:

1st gear 9.7

2nd gear 14.71

3rd gear 20.54

4th gear 27.1

5th gear 35.33

6th gear 42.45


Type Variable Electric Power Assisted

Turning circle (m) (kerbs) 10.35



MacPherson type with L-shaped lower arm, independent steering axis and anti-sway bar


H-style rear axle and anti-sway bar


Uprated front and rear spring rates

Retuned front and rear damper settings

New Limited Slip Differential

Wheels – Tyres

Wheels 8.0 J 18

Reference tyres Michelin Pilot Sport 2 – 235/40 R18

Emergency spare wheel Steel Wheel 185/60/R17


ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) S

Front – ventilated discs (mm) Brembo® – Drilled and ventilated discs (312mm)

Rear – solid discs (mm)

Brembo® – Drilled solid discs (300mm) with red callipers

Fuel Consumption

Litres/100km combined cycle 8.5


Standard fuel tank (litres) 60

Weight (kg)

Unladen kerb weight 1355

Max. weight, unbraked trailer 650

Max. weight, braked trailer 1000

Dimensions (mm)

Overall length 4228

Overall width (including door mirrors) 1777

Overall height 1437

Front head room, seat angle 14 degrees 885

Rear head room, seat angle 14 degrees 899

Luggage Compartment Volume (litres) (with all seats up) 330


3 years/unlimited km S

3 year 24 Hour AA Roadside Assistance S

Renault 6 year anti-corrosion S

Road Tests

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