Megane F1 R26 - The Hottest Megane Yet
Megane F1 R26 - the hottest Megane yet
Renault's newest offering in New Zealand is the Megane R26, or to give it its full name, the Renault Megane Renaultsport F1 Team R26!
The three door hatch is no shrinking violet and is only available in a distinctive yellow or black colour scheme. Combine this with the 'in your face' body styling and the Megane R26 does not hide its aspirations. It is one of the highest performing 'hot' hatches available in New Zealand and every inch looks the part.
Built by Renault's 'Renaultsport' division at Dieppe in north western France, the Megane R26 was engineered to celebrate the French company's victory in the 2006 Formula One world motor racing championship, its second successive constructor's title.
The R26 was the name of the car used by Renault in the 2006 F1 championship. The Megane R26 combines a three door hatch Cup chassis with completely new settings compared to the five door hatch Megane Renault Sport 225. Also, a limited slip differential for even crisper handling whether driving on the open road or around a circuit is standard equipment.
Its enhanced 230hp (169 kWs) 2.0 turbo engine - 5 horsepower (3 kWs) more than the Megane RS 225 - and Brembo brakes make it one of the highest performance hatches on the market. The Megane F1 Team R26 is the flagship, hero car of the Megane model range.
Megane F1 Team R26 is distinguishable from other Megane Renaultsport models thanks to unique graphics on the bumpers, doors and roof which can be deleted and its red-painted brake callipers. It is equipped with the 'Cup' chassis as standard and comes with 'Anthracite' 18-inch alloy wheels which echo the colour of the exterior mirrors. The Megane R26 can be ordered with the exclusive Liquid Yellow body colour.
Inside, a numbered plate similar to that used on each F1 race car reinforces the exclusive character of this Megane R26. Sport bucket seats, which guarantee an optimal driving position, are standard in the Megane R26 and enable the driver and passenger to feel more at one with the car, bringing it even closer to the world of motor sport.
Engine and chassis engineered for driving pleasure
The Megane R26's most striking feature is to be found under its bonnet, with further development of the 2.0 litre 16-valve turbocharged engine (F4Rt) which delivers 169 kWs at 5,500rpm and boasts peak torque of 310Nm at 3,000rpm thanks to optimised engine mapping and a modified exhaust. With 90 per cent of peak torque available from 2,000 to 6,000 rpm, this engine provides instant response and ultra-smooth acceleration.
The six-speed manual gearbox enables all this potential to be exploited to the full and helps take the car from standstill to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds The Megane R26 also offers class-topping fuel efficiency for its power output, with combined cycle fuel consumption of 8.5 litres/100km, for CO2 emissions limited to 200 g/km.
The Megane R26 is equipped with a stand still start optimization feature known as 'Power Start'. This system becomes operational when the vehicle is at a standstill with ESP engaged and enables the car to deliver its maximum acceleration, without losing its grip. Work on the exhaust system guarantees a characteristically sporty bark from the engine.
The Megane R26's other main strength is its chassis, which features independent steering-axis front suspension and a programmed-deflection flexible rear beam. The car is delivered as standard with the 'Cup' chassis.
The 'Cup' chassis employs specific dampers and 10% stiffer front springs, while rear damper travel has been slightly increased by reducing the size of the bump stops by 20 mm to optimise handling on poor surfaces. The new diameter front anti-roll bar, increased from 19 to 21 mm, and the integration of a new rear axle with an additional anti-roll bar ensure 10% stiffer anti-roll characteristics for enhanced handling under cornering. Increasing the diameter of the spindle axles by 5 mm and the size of the wheel bearings offers 30% greater camber stiffness which helps maintain the geometry of the axle under cornering. All these evolutions combine to provide first class road holding.
Now equipped with a limited slip differential, the Megane R26 has never been so close to being a genuine competition car. The limited slip differential guarantees impeccable traction irrespective of driving style or type of curve and regardless of how much grip is available.
Limited slip differentials are a common feature of competition cars, both in rallying and in Formula 1, although they can call for a certain degree of driving skill as a result of the torque steer that can be transmitted via the steering wheel in some situations. In the case of Megane R26, however, the combination of a limited slip differential and independent steering-axis front suspension not only minimizes this phenomenon but also permits the driver to benefit from the extra traction for more secure handling.
The limited slip differential also offers enhanced braking stability. Its immediate operation delays and limits ASR interventions when accelerating hard and ESP interventions when cornering, thus retaining all the potential of the brakes.
Steering potential is enhanced in cornering, allowing for earlier and more positive reacceleration.
In brief, while improving power transfer to the ground, and thus vehicle performance, the limited slip differential equally offers sound and secure handling, irrespective of driving style.
Limited slip differential
Among the various devices on the market today, Renault Sport Technologies chose a mechanical differential with helical teeth, where the satellite and sun gears have parallel axes. The limited slip function is obtained through mechanical efficiency of the system. During the slippage phases, the internal architecture of the differential generates friction on the various surfaces of the sun gears, transmitting part of the engine torque to the wheel with the greatest grip.
A main characteristic of this type of limited slip differential, the transfer rate is configured using 3 friction rings (selected for their coefficient of friction) placed between the sun gears and the differential housing. Final developments of the transfer rate are perfected by changing the material from which the rings are made.
Since the faces of the rings solicited during accelerations are not the same as those used in the braking phase, the transfer rate can therefore be differentiated.
On the Megane R26, the transfer rate is 35%. The nominal ratio between the torque of the high traction wheel and that of the low traction wheel, called TBR (Torque Bias Ratio), is 2.1. Megane R26's limited slip differential is manufactured by GKN Driveline.
In parallel with the evolutions of the chassis and the introduction of the limited slip differential, the electric power steering control unit was recalibrated with a view to guaranteeing a more linear feel for added steering precision.
Sports performance of this standard calls for brakes that boast both bite and endurance, and the Megane R26's up rated brake system - which features Brembo four-pot front callipers and vented 312mm diameter discs - provides outstanding stopping power which is compounded by the work of the 11-inch servo which generates a maximum pressure within the circuit of 115 bar.
The Megane F1 Team R26 is equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres (235 / 40 R18).
The flagship of the Megane range
Since its launch in March 2003, 13,000 Megane Renaultsport vehicles have been sold throughout the world. This model has been particularly successful in France, the United Kingdom and Germany where Megane Renault Sport made 70% of its sales. Megane Renault Sport is also a hit in Spain, Switzerland, South Africa and Mexico.
This model contributes to the expansion and creation of a younger clientele within the Megane range, and whose various models are now appreciated in a large number of countries. It also disseminates Renault's technological expertise in the field of sports models.
Dieppe, an emblematic site
The Dieppe Renault Sport facility is dedicated to the production of Renaultsport models. With an annual capacity of 30,000 vehicles, the plant currently assembles Megane Renaultsport and Clio Renaultsport.
At Dieppe, the Megane Renaultsport is assembled from bodies manufactured and cataphorisis treated at Renault's Palencia facility. The manufacturing process is based on the Renault Production System (RPS) and the AVES (Alliance Vehicle Evaluation Standard) quality standard, as in other Renault manufacturing facilities.
Renault has invested 1.2 million Euros in developing Megane F1 Team R26.