With the Renault Megane RS Ultime, the French brand is saying farewell to both its feisty petrol-powered hot hatch and its Renault Sport sub-brand.
“We’re working through securing an Australian shipment of these final edition Megane RS Ultime, which should be here for a mid-year launch. Final spec and pricing to be confirmed,” said a spokesperson for Renault Australia.
The RS Ultime, set to be revealed on January 13 at the Tokyo Auto Salon, will be the last model from the brand with the Renault Sport logo, with future fettled Renault products to be sold under the expanded Alpine brand alongside bespoke models.
It wears bold matte black stripes – inspired by Renault’s refreshed logo – on its roof, bonnet, rear bumper, doors and fenders. The year Renault Sport was established, 1976, is inscribed in the striping on the right-hand side of the vehicle.
The logos, door handles, window frames, wheels, fender caps, rear diffuser, and the front bumper’s Formula 1 blade are all finished in black.
Exterior colours are limited to Star Black, Pearl White, Sirius Yellow and Tonic Orange.
In its press release, Renault also notes the inclusion of a central exhaust and 60mm wider front and 45mm wider rear fenders, however these appear to be shared with the RS Trophy and not exclusive to the RS Ultime.
Inside, there are Recaro bucket seats finished in titanium black Alcantara upholstery and featuring an embroidered RS monogram, as well as unique door sills.
Each RS Ultime wears a numbered metal plaque on the centre console signed by Laurent Hurgon, the driver and development expert who worked on the Megane RS throughout his career and currently holds the Nürburgring, Suzuka and Spa-Francorchamps records.
The stripe pattern of the exterior is also extended to the key fob.
Standard equipment includes RS Vision LED headlights, a 9.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bose sound system, 10-inch digital instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera.
A sunroof and head-up display are the only options, but these are exclusive to left-hand drive vehicles. Renault will offer a custom-designed cover, but it’s unclear if that will be offered here.
It rides on Bridgestone Potenza S007 semi-slicks originally developed for the Megane RS Trophy R, wrapped around Fuji Light 19-inch wheels. Brembo dual-cast brakes with red callipers provide stopping power.
The RS Ultime is unchanged under the bonnet, featuring a turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine producing 221kW of power and 420Nm of torque.
Renault says the RS Ultime will use the RS Trophy’s six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission in Europe, potentially leaving the door open for a three-pedal option elsewhere. The RS Trophy is currently offered with a choice of six-speed manual or dual-clutch transmissions locally.
“Megane RS represents 15 years of my work at Renault Sport. Since the Megane II phase 2, we have constantly improved its dynamic performance in order to remain the leader in front-wheel-drive sports cars,” said Laurent Hurgon, driver and development expert at Renault Group.
“The records on the Nürburgring Nordschleife are unforgettable challenges, full of passion, adrenalin and emotion. And now, Megane RS Ultime… I am particularly proud to sign the version crowning this wonderful saga.”
Australia has long been a major buyer of the Megane RS – particularly for the older, manual-only three-door model that preceded today’s higher-tech five-door offering. For years, Renault Australia bragged about being a top three market, often alongside France and Japan.
Renault has continued to offer the hot RS Trophy locally even as it has systematically culled the rest of the Megane range. It sold 102 examples in 2022, down 17.1 per cent on 2021’s tally.
With the smaller Clio RS killed off a few years ago, the Megane’s death will leave Renault’s once enviable cupboard of pocket rockets looking bare.
In doing so, the French brand will take the same path as Ford Australia, which has killed off the Fiesta ST and Focus ST. These discontinuations occur as the hot hatch segment is heating up further in Australia, with the Toyota GR Corolla and latest Honda Civic Type R due this year.
The Renault Group’s next hot hatch will come from the Alpine brand and feature electric power only, with the brand set to offer a fettled version of the upcoming, reborn Renault 5 in 2024.
Renault Australia general manager Glen Sealey said he wants to bring any new electric model he can here, even though the Alpine brand is dormant locally – the A110 was discontinued as it couldn’t meet the new ADR 85/00 side impact standards.
“There’s an electrifying future, we’ve got terrific product coming through,” Mr Sealey told CarExpert recently. “…Any new product that’s announced from the EV side, we have our hands up for.”