The 2018 Mégane RS Trophy: still a VDI favorite?

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Just a couple of months after the introduction of the regular Mégane RS, Renault has announced a Trophy version. The extra-sporty versions of Renault Sport models are usually only introduced with the facelift, so it seems that for those after a track weapon that remains usable every day, Christmas has come early. Or does it?

The Trophy gets a 20bhp bump in power over the regular version – its 1.8-liter turbo now puts out a healthy 300bhp and 420Nm (400Nm with the manual transmission instead of the EDC dual-clutch), thanks in part to a ball bearing turbo and a new exhaust. That’s still 10bhp down on its most potent competitor, the Civic Type R, but Renault Sport products have always been about the chassis, often compensating for their power deficit with a unique handling finesse.

It comes at somewhat of a surprise, then, that the new Trophy’s specifications read more as a ‘best-of’, picked from the regular car’s options list than as a true landmark model. Should we keep waiting for the hardcore Trophy-R that is undoubtedly waiting in the wings? Maybe, but on the other hand, best-of albums are what Porsche’s GTS models have been about since the 997 GTS and they’re generally regarded as the sweet spot of the range, so let’s look at what the new Trophy has to offer.

The model comes as standard with the Cup package, which includes a Torsen LSD and a stiffer suspension compared to the regular Mégane RS: 25% firmer shock absorbers, 30% stiffer springs and 10% stiffer anti-roll bars. Like with every new Mégane RS, the Trophy comes fitted with Renault’s four-wheel steering, dubbed 4Control.

Also standard on the Trophy are the normally optional bi-material 355mm front brake discs with Brembo calipers. Combining aluminum with the usual cast iron, these brakes save 1.8kg of unsprung weight per corner and promise better heat dissipation for better endurance on track.

At launch, the Trophy will sit on unique 19in ‘Jerez’ wheels with 245/35 Bridgestone Potenza S001 tires. From 2019, however, an optional 19in ‘Fuji’ wheel will become available. 2kg per wheel lighter and fitted with bespoke Bridgestone Potenza S007 tires, they should be the choice for the track junkie. If you prefer a slightly meatier sidewall, you’re out of luck, since the 18in items from the regular version are not available on the Trophy.

A standout feature of the Trophy is a set of Recaro bucket seats which are mounted 20mm lower down than the standard items. They’re trimmed in Alcantara to really hold the driver through the corners.

The main appeal of the new Mégane RS Trophy, then, is that power boost, which may be somewhat disappointing if you were expecting dynamic revelations of the caliber of the 2005 Clio 182 Trophy, a car that still stands as one of the greatest hot hatches of all time thanks to its remote-reservoir Sachs shocks. Maybe there is more to the Trophy than the specs make out, though.

Prices haven’t been announced yet, but if it doesn’t add too much over the cup package, it will undoubtedly be the version to have for those who want to chase lap times. Then again, they might elect to wait for an even more hardcore version, which – it’s safe to say – will most likely come with trick shocks, a stripped-out interior and a range of other lightweighting measures.

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