A sole image of what should be the new Renault Megane RS is circulating on the Internet. The leaked image shows the rear end of the mega hatch that will debut this year, and is our first undisguised look at Renault Sport’s take on the fourth-generation Megane. Renault Sport recently teased the new model, but the car was under wraps.

Compared to the existing Megane GT – which is tuned by the French company’s sports division but not a full-fledged RS car – the Megane RS features a large central exhaust outlet with twin pipes inside (the GT has two exhaust outlets, one at each end). The trapezoid hole is housed in a sizeable rear diffuser and a chunkier rear bumper with two vertical vents on the edges. The tailgate spoiler has a central ridge.

There’s also a wider body to match the wider tracks, from the looks of it. We’ve previously seen Renault Sport testing the RS in a GT body, and the mule’s wheels were protruding from the stock body. Of course, there’s also the signature RS “liquid yellow” body paint.

The new Megane RS will have the Ford Focus RS and Honda Civic Type R as rivals, but it won’t look as juvenile as the lairy pair.

“Our brand is not about aggressivity. We try to have a powerful product but rather simple with sensual shapes. That’s what we tried to make with the next RS, which is actually harder than going aggressive I think. To find the right balance is harder but I think we have done it,” brand design boss Stéphane Janin told Autocar.

According to the British mag, the next Megane RS will get four-wheel steering, a 2.0 litre turbo engine with over 300 hp (the previous one topped out at 275 hp and 0-100 km/h in 5.8 seconds), a six-speed manual gearbox (EDC dual-clutch auto to be an option for the first time) and front-wheel drive. This will leave the Focus RS, Volkswagen Golf R and Audi RS3 Sportback as the only hot hatches with AWD.

The Honda Civic Type R is the one to beat for the new Megane RS – it holds the Nurburgring FWD record

One more thing. The latest Megane IV is five-door only, which means that the Megane RS will follow suit. The lower and longer platform, plus wider tracks, will give the new RS car more mechanical grip than ever, giving it a better chance of wresting back the Nurburgring FWD record from the Civic Type R, which lapped Green Hell in 7 minutes 43.80 seconds. Prior to that, the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S did the deed in 7 minutes and 47.19 seconds.

The race is on, and the hot hatch market is about to get hotter with the Megane RS onboard.

GALLERY: 2018 Renault Megane RS mule in Megane GT body