A development mule of the next-generation 2018 Renault Megane RS has been spied undergoing testing in southern Europe ahead of the car's expected world reveal next year.
As we already know, the next iteration of the French hot hatch will be a significant departure from the current model. Where the current car is a coupe, the next one will only be available as a five-door hatchback, on account of Renault's decision to ditch the three-door Megane body-style.
While the donor vehicle you see here is a mere Megane GT (driven here), the central twin pipes (in place of the current Megane RS' single centre pipe), lowered suspension and big Brembo brakes are a giveaway that this is something hotter.
The next Megane RS will get a power bump over the current car, with its turbocharged four-cylinder engine expected to produce 230kW-plus in answer to the game-changing Ford Focus RS.
Reports out of Europe also indicate that the car - unlike the manual-only current version - will get the option of two gearboxes: an EDC dual-clutch with paddles, and a conventional manual.
Renaultsport boss Patrice Ratti recently told UK publication Auto Express that: “The EDC gearbox offers the car up to new markets, like Japan and Australia, but we would prefer to be able to offer the choice of a manual".
As you can read here, Renault Australia has received customer feedback asking for an automatic option on the next Megane RS. Since the Clio RS went EDC-only, its sales have skyrocketed. This matters, because Australia was the world’s second-biggest market for Megane RS last year, behind only France, and ahead of the UK and Japan.
Much speculation has also been made over whether Renault would adopt an all-wheel drive system to better channel the torque to the road, but recent comments out of Europe suggest it'll remain FWD in the next-generation, paired with the Megane GT's four-wheel steering system instead. We aren't yet certain.
Naturally, more power will usual also mean bigger wheels/tyres, and as we can see the fenders on this mule are cut out in order to make room, we can expect wider fenders when it’s time for the production car to be revealed. The front bumper will also be different with bigger air intakes in order to let the engine get more air.