Renault has combined all its motor sport expertise to produce the Megane Renaultsport 225 ‘Trophy’.

The latest addition to the Renaultsport stable, officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on 1st March, takes its lead from the Megane Trophy race car which is set to grip the motor racing world as part of the 2005 World Series by Renault race meetings, which start in Zolder, Belgium on 30th April.

Launched in April 2004, the current Megane Renaultsport 225 on which the Trophy is based, has proved popular with track-day fans.  With this in mind, the Renaultsport team has enhanced the car’s brakes, chassis and steering to give the purest driving experience possible for the performance enthusiast and track day driver.

As the largest market by far for Renaultsport products, the UK is to receive the largest allocation in the world of the new flagship Megane, but as the new Trophy will only be available as part of a limited production run, the UK will take delivery of just a few hundred examples. With demand expected to outstrip supply, the second piece of good news for drivers is that the engineering changes made to the Trophy will be available as a ‘Cup Chassis’ option on the standard Megane Renaultsport 225 a bit further down the track.

Powered by the same two-litre turbocharged engine as that found in the current Renaultsport 225, and mated to a six-speed, close-ratio manual gearbox, the Trophy pumps out 225hp at 5,500rpm and 300Nm of torque at 3,000rpm, with at least 90% of this torque available between 2,000 and 6,000rpm.

The chassis of the new Megane Renaultsport 225 Trophy has been developed entirely for the pleasure of driving and benefits from unique components and settings. Improved body support results in lower roll angles, less pitching during acceleration and also less nosedive under braking. Cornering potential and overall road handling on all types of surface have also been improved thanks to a revised front suspension set-up with greater turn authority and significantly reduced understeer.

Another boon for the new car, particularly for track day drivers, is that the Trophy’s electronic stability programme (ESP) system can now be switched off above 35mph. Although the system will still intervene should the car veer off line under heavy braking, its intervention threshold has been set higher and its operation made less intrusive.

Working in tandem with the ESP system, the front and rear disc brakes are now cross-drilled to aid cooling and optimum operation in wet conditions, plus the diameter of the master cylinder has been increased from 23.8mm to 25.4mm for better pedal feel and reduced travel. With such a high braking capacity, the Brake Assist system has been removed to allow drivers to make the most of the vehicle’s deceleration potential.

The new 12-spoke, 18-inch anthracite alloy wheels are each 1.5kg lighter than before, while the new Dunlop SP Sport Maxx 235/40 R18 tyres which feature a special silicon-based tread compound, have been chosen for their exceptional wet traction and grip, excellent dry grip and enhanced steering performance.

The new Megane Renaultsport 225 Trophy benefits from a new electric power-assisted steering system with a splined “tube-in-tube” sliding joint which gives enhanced steering feel, while new software, ‘High Frequency Curve Assist’, has been developed to re-define the self-centering forces felt during cornering.

Aside from the changes made under the skin, the Megane Renaultsport 225 Trophy limited edition can be distinguished on the outside by its unique ‘Nimbus’ metallic finish and 18″ anthracite-coloured alloys.

The performance theme continues inside, with new sports front seats, plus blue seatbelts and stitching on the gearknob, gaiter and steering wheel. In keeping with the car’s sporting nature, carbon fibre inserts appear in the centre console and door handle surrounds while a numbered plaque will also appear in the lower part of the dashboard to emphasise the car’s exclusivity.

The Trophy shares all of the standard Megane Renaultsport 225 equipment, including ABS, cruise control with speed limiter, eight air bags and tyre pressure monitor, but loses carpet mats and six CD multi-changer (replaced by single CD). It does however, gain climate control and given the limited volume, there will only be two options available – xenon headlamps and 160W Cabasse six CD multi-changer.

Order books open on 14th March, with the Megane Renaultsport 225 Trophy available as a three-door Sport Hatch only. The UK price has yet to be confirmed.