How the new Renaultsport Mégane 275 Trophy-R smashed the front-wheel-drive lap record at the Nürburgring’s fearsome Nordschleife
Renault is hardly new to road car record attempts at the Nürburgring, but its latest stands out as an achievement that will be difficult to top. The new Renaultsport Mégane 275 Trophy-R was tasked with lowering the best mark for a front-wheel-drive car around the 14-mile circuit – and did so by some margin…
Laurent Hurgon, one of three Renaultsport test drivers, was the man behind the wheel. He spoke to Motor Sport about the car and what it was like to go for a new record.
What are the main upgrades on the Mégane 275 Trophy-R that have boosted performance?
“When we decided to develop an upgrade to the Mégane Renaultsport the objective was not only to improve the technical specification. We needed a more distinctive model, a car that would be even better on the track while still being suitable for everyday driving. Reflecting our approach to motor sport, we sought to make progress in every area in order to develop innovative solutions that would make our car the market reference. It’s a car that addresses today’s concerns, with its moderate fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and it is also a strong performer on the track, with the input from technical partners who worked in close cooperation with our staff.”
How has motor sport influenced the design upgrades of this car?
“The engineers at Renault Sport Technologies are the same team dedicated exclusively to our road and race cars. We used our motor sport partners to develop the Mégane Renaultsport including Ohlins, Michelin, Brembo, Recaro, Akrapovic and Allevard.”
Why did you choose to test the car’s performance on the Nürburgring Nordschleife?
“At Renault, and Renaultsport in particular, we see new challenges as a driving force for our cars. After the first record broken by Mégane R26.R in 2008, we wanted more, and we return to the Nürburgring regularly to try to improve our performance. This track – no doubt the world’s toughest – has become one of our working tools, used extensively for the fine-tuning of Renaultsport vehicles.”
What were the biggest challenges you faced on this demanding circuit?
“The pressure was certainly on, especially since the track conditions for the record attempt were far from ideal. When the moment comes, the concentration required is similar to that for a qualifying lap, and you have to block out everything around you. The competition between the car makers attempting to set records is so tough that the smallest driving mistake can cost you dearly at the end of the lap! Breaking the eight-minute barrier was in no way a given, and we put in a tremendous amount of work on the car, but also on my driving. I spent a lot of time on R.S. Replay, a simple yet extremely powerful analysis tool based on the data acquired by the R.S. Monitor 2.0. R.S. Replay can be used to obtain a great deal of information, particularly on gear changes in corners. I obviously felt proud about the new record. Beyond my own personal satisfaction, the performance benefits Renault as a whole.”
What was your target with the test, and did you exceed this?
“We held the record for the Nordschleife for a production front-wheel-drive car in 2008 with the Mégane R26.R of 8min 17sec. We beat our own record in 2011 with the 265 Trophy. Our aim for the 275 Trophy-R was to get under eight minutes. We did that and then some! [Hurgon achieved a time of 7min 54sec]
By our reckoning, the car would have qualified 14th on the grid for the 1983 1000Kms sports car race. This record shows just how far road car performance has come in the past 30 years, doesn’t it?
“Yes, it’s amazing to think that the record set by Mégane R26.R just six years ago has been beaten by more than 23 seconds! It shows that progress has been made in all areas. Step by step, the limits are being regularly pushed back. Take engines, for example. You could say that the extra 10hp of the Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy-R isn’t a big deal. But that extra power allowed us to extend the torque range, and I was able to take most corners in a higher gear than three years ago. At the end, that improvement is measured in seconds.”
Following this achievement, what’s the next performance target for Renault? Any more projects such as this up your sleeve?
“Competition is in our DNA. While I cannot say what we have to come, it’s true to say that we never ever give up!”
From track to road
The Mégane RenaultSport 275 Trophy
The tradition of exclusive, stylish Renaultsport models continues. The restyled Mégane range’s most potent version benefits from a technical upgrade and a bespoke look.
Widely acclaimed for its performance on both road and track, the Cup chassis with limited slip differential is a standard feature of the Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy.
To allow customers to benefit fully from the car’s dynamic qualities, Renaultsport’s engineers have worked extensively on the powerplant to extract an extra 10 horsepower. The 2-litre petrol engine generates 275bhp, and peak power is reached at 5,500rpm. Maximum torque (266lb ft) is available from 3,000 to 5,000rpm.
Despite this additional power, fuel consumption and emissions figures remain impressive at 37.5mpg and 174g of CO2/km respectively.
Renaultsport and Akrapovic, the manufacturer of performance exhaust systems, have marked their association with use of a titanium exhaust. It’s lighter and also emits a specific, more raucous bark that is sure to appeal.
Circuit racing pedigree
The Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy kicks off a partnership with the world-renowned damper manufacturer Öhlins. This limited-edition car can be specified with optional and easily adjustable Öhlins Road & Track dampers with steel springs.
For those who enjoy circuit days, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, developed specifically for this new limited-edition front-wheel drive car, are also available as an option.
From £28,930 OTR