Say hello to the latest hot hatch in town, the new Renault Megane RS. Renault Sport’s latest Megane enters the senior sports hatchback arena that has the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R – both are also officially sold in Malaysia. Of course, the Megane RS is no stranger to our market, but plenty has changed in the transition to this latest generation.

Based on the fourth-generation C-segment Megane hatchback, which does not have a three-door version, the latest Megane RS is five-door hatch. That means two more doors than the previous RS, which bodystyle Renault did attempt to brand as a coupe. It’s less distinct as a result, but that’s not really a problem since its rivals have the same format (ten units of the three-door Golf R were sold here, though).

Also different is the engine, which is now a smaller 1.8 litre turbo-four. It makes 280 PS and 390 Nm of torque from 2,400 to 4,500 rpm, which is a few horses and 30 Nm more than the previous-gen 2.0L turbo’s max output (275 hp/360 Nm in the Trophy-R).

The motor is paired to a six-speed Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) automatic transmission, but the good news is that there’s a six-speed manual option as well. This is unlike the Clio RS, which is EDC-only. The 0-100 km/h sprint is done in 5.8 seconds, while top speed is 255 km/h (250 km/h for the auto).

The Megane RS has always been a front-wheel drive hot hatch, and this new one maintains tradition, like the Civic Type R. Keeping the extra dose of performance in check is the 4Control four-wheel steering system that made its debut on the warm 205 PS/280 Nm 1.6L Megane GT, which was launched here in February 2018.

As is the norm for a Renault Sport product, the new Megane RS comes with either the standard Sport suspension or a more track-focused Cup chassis, both receiving rally-style four hydraulic compression bump stops for better handling or comfort depending on the chosen setup. Malaysia gets the Cup, which was also the chassis of choice when the previous-gen Megane RS was launched here in 2010.

The front suspension has been completely redesigned with an independent steering axis for improved precision, while the Cup you see here gains a Torsen limited-slip differential. Renault’s Multi-Sense system provides a choice of five driving modes – Comfort, Normal, Sport, Race and the customisable Perso. The car rolls on 19-inch “Interlagos” alloys with 245/35 Bridgestone Potenza S001 rubber.

Today’s event is billed as a preview, and order books are now open. The first customer units will be arriving around mid-2019. The manual version has a confirmed price of RM279,888 on-the-road without insurance (RM178,800 in tax-free Langkawi) while the EDC auto has an estimated price of RM299,888 (RM186,800 in Langkawi).

Note that there will be an additional RM1,000 charge for Pearl White; and RM8,000 for the bright Orange Tonic (model signature, as seen here) and Liquid Yellow (RS signature) colours. The car you see here is what you’re going to get, save for the Recaro bucket seats – customer cars will have RS sports seats, although the Recaros can be ordered, at a fee of course. The factory warranty is for three years or 100,000 km.

The first 10 customers to book the new Megane RS before May 31 will enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to France, which will include an experience at Renault Sport’s base in Dieppe. Test drives (of the manual version) will be available at Renault’s Petaling Jaya showroom from August onwards, by appointment. A public preview will happen at Mid Valley from April 24-28.

GALLERY: Previous generations of the Renault Megane RS