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Renault To Reclaim Front-Wheel-Drive 'Ring Record With Hot Megane

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Battles for the fastest Nürburgring lap time don't just happen among sports cars and supercars--there's a hotly-fought contest among front-wheel-drive hot hatchbacks, too. Renault has often appeared at the top of the table for front-drive lap times, but recent months have seen efforts from SEAT, and possibly Honda, put the pressure on. Now, Renault could reclaim the record once more with an even hotter Megane.

Chevrolet set something of a benchmark in 2007 with an 8-minute, 22-second lap--quicker than many bona-fide sports cars. From there, things got silly: Renault's Megane R.26R did an 8:16, and its subsequent Megane RS Trophy hit 8:07. Spanish automaker SEAT recently took the record with a 7:58, and Honda's next-gen Civic Type R may beat even that when its official time is released.

With the simple hashtag #UNDER8 to accompany a new video, Renault is making its intentions clear: The hottest Megane RS yet is on its way, and help from exhaust manufacturer Akrapovic could see it snatch the title back from its Spanish and Japanese rivals. Michelin and suspension specialists Ohlins are also involved with the car, which is likely to be a run-out version of the Megane RS before a new Megane debuts.

Even as standard, the Megane RS is well-equipped to take the record--the car's 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder develops 261 horsepower, power sent through a six-speed manual gearbox and limited-slip differential. The 0-62 mph sprint takes six seconds, and Renault quotes a 158 mph top speed.

It also has one of the best front-drive chassis around, perfect for taming the 'Ring's 154 turns. All Nürburgring lap times have to be taken with a pinch of salt, of course--different drivers, differing weather conditions, resurfaced patches, tire compounds and more all make direct comparisons almost impossible. But it's certainly interesting watching modern compact hatchbacks making mincemeat of times set by sports cars just a decade ago...

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