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New 300bhp Renault Megane RS spied on the Nurburgring

Renault’s new flagship hot hatch will debut later this year with a new front-wheel-drive lap record of the ‘Green Hell’ targeted

Our best look yet at the new Renault Megane RS has landed by way of spy shots of the new Renaultsport fettled hot hatch undergoing the assessment on the Nurburgring, as Renault seeks to chase down and catch the new Honda Civic Type R.

Honda has regained its Nurburgring crown for the fastest front-wheel-drive car with the latest Civic Type R, but the pictures suggest Renault – which held the record as recently as 2014 with the Megane RS 275 – is hard at work to make its mark on the hot hatch scene with a new headline lap time.

The car made a brief debut at the Monaco Grand Prix last month, but a complete unveil is still planned for the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Renault has also released official spy shots of its upcoming flagship hot hatch. It’s only a handful of images, but they reveal an aggressive new front end with ‘chequered flag’ style daytime running lights positioned low down on the front bumper.

The hatch will also remain front-wheel drive, so an attempt to reclaim the lap record for a front-driven car – currently held by the latest Civic Type R – at Germany’s Nürburgring race track will also be made. Another new addition will be the EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox from the Clio RS. Ratti told us that this is designed to satisfy markets such as Japan and Australia; a six-speed manual box will be offered in the UK.

To boost agility on the road, a rear-wheel-steering system should also feature on the Megane RS. A similar set-up already exists on the Megane GT – currently, the hottest model in the range – and is designed to boost mobility at low speed and stability at high speed.

Prototypes spotted undergoing development testing have also revealed a beefier braking system and lowered ride thanks to a new suspension set-up. Adjustable dampers should appear, too.

Our image gives you an indication of what the production version will look like when the covers come off in September. Stripped-out Trophy and Trophy-R models will follow.

Other hot hatches arriving in 2017

Suzuki Swift Sport

Power: 140bhp
Price: £14,000 (est)
Engine: 1.4 4cyl turbo

Suzuki’s new Swift Sport will be one of the later hot hatch arrivals this year, but big things are expected from the eagerly awaited Japanese pocket rocket.

Based on Suzuki’s new lightweight platform, the Swift Sport will be powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine developing upwards of 140bhp. Its lightweight construction means it should weigh no more than 900kg, making it good for 0-62mph in around eight seconds.

Honda Civic Type R

Power: 316bhp
Price: £30,995
Engine: 2.0 4cyl turbo

Once again the fastest front-wheel-drive car to lap the Nürburgring, the Honda Civic Type R carries forward its brutish looks and searing performance for another generation.

The car is completely new from the ground up – a new 2.0-litre VTEC turbo now develops 316bhp and 400Nm of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is the only transmission available.

Ford Fiesta ST

Power: 197bhp
Price: £19,000 (est)
Engine: 1.5 3cyl turbo

We didn’t have to wait long before Ford unveiled the new Fiesta ST. Just four months after the all-new eighth-generation hatch landed, the ST was rolled out at March’s Geneva Motor Show with big changes.

A new 197bhp 1.5-litre 3cyl turbo replaces the outgoing 1.6-litre 4cyl, while cylinder shutdown tech helps cut CO2 emissions from 138g/km to 114g/km. The chassis has also been tuned by Ford Performance.

Toyota Yaris GRMN

Power: 205bhp+
Price: £21,000 (est)
Engine: 1.8 4cyl supercharged

Toyota’s first hot hatch for more than a decade, the Yaris GRMN (Gazoo Racing Masters of Nürburgring), is being taken extremely seriously by the Japanese brand; the man responsible for the GT86 coupé is overseeing development of the car.

It’s powered by a new 1.8-litre supercharged engine and should be capable of 0-62mph in around six seconds. A mechanical limited-slip diff is also fitted.

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