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Renault unveils its hottest hatch


French maker Renault has unveiled the hot hatch it hopes will reclaim the title as the world's fastest front-wheel-drive car.

The Megane RS275 Trophy Edition has been developed to crack a sub 8-minute lap time on the perilous 21km Nurburgring race circuit in Germany after Volkswagen's Spanish brand Seat posted a 7 minute and 58-second time in March this year. Renault claims the Seat Leon Cupra was modified and not the same as a showroom standard vehicle.

So Renault has upped the ante and fitted race-bred parts to its latest limited edition to reset the record it first held in June 2008 with the Megane R26R (8:16.90) and bettered with the current Megane RS265 in June 2011 (8:08.97).

Renault is returning to the Nurburgring on June 16 this year with 10 extra metric horsepower from its 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder, race-style Ohlins adjustable suspension, a titanium exhaust system by Akrapovic, and Michelin Pilot Sport II tyres on new lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels.

Prototype versions of the Megane RS275 have been spotted testing on the Nurburgring in recent months and the company may have already secretly reset the record. But it will wait until June 16, when it will host a media day at the circuit about 175km north-west of Frankfurt, before it makes a formal announcement.

In the meantime it has teased enthusiasts on social media with the #under8 campaign, revealing details of the new car piece by piece. The Renault Megane RS275's power increases to 202kW but its torque output of 360Nm remains.

The six-speed manual transmission and mechanical limited-slip differential are also part of the package. A twin-clutch manual is still not available.

The limited edition is due in Australian showrooms in September and about 100 examples have been confirmed for Australia, coinciding with the introduction of the mid-life facelift: new headlights, bonnet and front bumper.

The cost is yet to be announced,  but it is expected to be priced between $50,000 and $60,000 when it goes on sale locally. Currently,  the Renault Megane RS265 is priced between $42,640 to $51,640 plus on-road costs.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling