Renault auto news

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Renault R.S. 01 says hello before debut in Moscow

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Coupes, Renault, Racing

Renault Sport RS 01

What does the "RS" in the Renault Clio RS and Megane RS mean? Well, unlike Audi and Porsche, it doesn't stand for Renn Sport. No, it's actually a signifier that said hot hatch has been breathed upon by Renault Sport, the French manufacturer's answer to Volkswagen's R models, Ford's ST hatches and Opel/Vauxhalls's OPC and VXR lines. Its production of forbidden fruit aside, Renault Sport has another project on the burner - the RS 01.

Formerly known as the Renault Sport Trophy, the RS 01 is a 500-horsepower racer that's underpinned by a Dallara carbon-monocoque chassis. Its power is sent to a dedicated set of Michelin slicks through a Sadev seven-speed sequential trans, while the curb weight hovers around 2,500 pounds. A road car, this is not.

And now, we have our very first look at it. As teaser videos go, this 30-second spot from Renault is particularly juicy, giving us an excellent look at the new RS 01 and it's almost prototype-like shape.

Scroll down for the full video and a very short press release, and then keep your eyes on this space, as Renault will officially unveil the RS 01 on August 27 at the Moscow Motor Show.

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Audi R8 V10 Plus vs. Renault Clio Cup racecar will make you go hmmm...

07/19/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Videos, Hatchbacks, Audi, Renault, Racing

Evo Track Battle

Match up a hot hatch with a supercar of the same vintage, and we'll tell you who will win every time. It's easy, really, as the supercar invariably features a more advanced suspension, stickier tires and most importantly, more power. What if the hot hatch is race prepped, though?

In that particular case, all bets are off. A circuit-tuned suspension, a stripped-down cabin, an ultra-quick sequential transmission and the greatest equalizer of them all, slick tires, are all that's needed to turn the typical hot hatch into a proper dragon slayer.

Perhaps seeking to prove this, Evo has put together an interesting head-to-head between the Audi R8 V10 and a race-prepared Renault Clio Cup. Host Dickie Meaden takes us through each car, highlighting the bits and bobs on both sides which should make this a tight competition. And boy, is this one tight.

Scroll down for the full video from Evo, and let us know what you think of the result in Comments.

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2014 Renault Clio RS 200 Turbo

07/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Euro, Hatchbacks, Renault, Quick Spin

2014 Renault Clio RS 200 Turbo

America may be better known for its muscle cars than its hot hatches, but those who prefer their power sent to the front wheels with a liftgate at the back aren't exactly hurting for choices these days. Americans can stop by their local dealership and put in an order for a Ford Fiesta ST or Focus ST, Fiat 500 Abarth, Mini Cooper S or Volkswagen GTI or Golf R - excellent choices all, but that's still only a fraction of what our European compatriots have at their disposal. Automakers like Seat, Opel and Citroën (to name just a few) all offer hot hatches American buyers can only admire from afar. Few of them, however, can hold a candle to Renault.

With its Renaultsport line, Nissan's European ally has been at the forefront of the hot hatch game for decades, producing successive performance versions of the Mégane, Clio and even the Twingo. But this latest Clio RS 200 marks a change of direction for the French performance studio. Instead of a naturally aspirated engine, the new Clio RS is turbocharged. Instead of a manual transmission, it has a dual-clutch gearbox. And instead of three doors, it has five. In other words, it's nothing like the Renaultsport Clios that came before - or for that matter, anything Renault has made until now. But does that mean the French have lost their edge? We headed to England's Millbrook Proving Ground to find out.

Driving Notes

  • Breaking with a tradition set down by the first-gen Clio 16V and Clio Williams, the second-gen Clio RS 172 and 182 (not to mention the bonkers mid-engined Clio V6), and the third-gen Clio RS 197 and 200, the new Clio RS 200 Turbo is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four that's smaller than its predecessors' naturally aspirated engines, yet it's more potent.
  • Driving 200 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque to front wheels through a six-speed DCT (another first in Renaultsport territory), this car takes 6.7 seconds to reach 62 miles per hour and tops out at 143 mph. While purists may balk at the death of their favorite hot hatch's linearity, it's hard to argue with the results, because with the best power-to-weight ratio yet, the latest Clio RS is both the quickest and fastest one to date.
  • Numbers aside, the turbo Clio feels like a proper hot hatch, its engine pulling with tenacity even from low revs. The dual-clutch gearbox may not be the quickest unit out there, but it still swaps cogs more urgently than anyone could with a manual.
  • The exhaust note may be muffled by the escargot attached to the engine, Renault has done little (if anything) to mask its turbo whine. In fact, it even piped the sound acoustically into the cabin. Those embracing the digitality of the new Clio RS, however, can select a pre-programmed, simulated exhaust note from a series of more bellowing engines - from a classic Alpine A110 to a modern Nissan GT-R - on the infotainment touchscreen to be played through the speakers (inside, not out).
  • We were a little surprised to look down the spec sheet and find that our tester was fitted with the optional Cup chassis traditionally favored by enthusiasts. Not that it couldn't handle everything Millbrook had to throw at it - and believe us when we say that's a whole lot - or rode too harshly. In fact, this is the setup we would probably choose for ourselves. We just couldn't help but feel that this should be the standard suspension on a hot hatch like this, and that the Cup setup should be even more focused. Here's hoping a more hardcore Trophy suspension is in the works.
  • The 12.6-inch front and 10.2-inch rear brake discs do an excellent job of keeping everything in check. In concert with the Clio's other dynamic elements, it's clear how steeped Renaultsport is in the world of circuit racing.
  • Looking at a stock Clio hatchback on the street on our way back to London, one area where we're sorry to say Renault seems to have dropped the ball is in the styling department. The Clio RS looks fine - solid, if a little bulbous for our tastes - but despite the meatier 17-inch wheels, larger front air dam and extended rear spoiler, the Renaultsport version just doesn't look different enough from the standard econo-hatch on which it's based.
  • Inside is a different story, with well-bolstered seats, a beefy steering wheel rim, aluminum pedals, oversized shift paddles and red stitching and trim to top it all off. Those who like flying under the radar in a sleeper, first of all, maybe shouldn't order it in yellow. But in a subtler color, it's not likely to grab much attention, for better or worse. Those who miss the more overt go-fast bolt-ons from previous Renaultsport upgrades may be disappointed, though.
  • At the end of a regrettably short drive in Renaultsport's latest, we're left suitably impressed by this Clio. Push come to turbocharged shove, it delivers the goods - even if it does so in a decidedly different way than its predecessors and stablemates. Renaultsport has clearly gone for a broader appeal with this latest Clio, but after driving "warm" hatches like the Volkswagen Golf GT TDI and Kia Cee'd GT, we're left in no doubt that the Renault Clio RS 200 Turbo is still stronger than the gruyère on top of a bowl of onion soup - and just as hot... even if its predecessors somehow seemed hotter.
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Lotus drops Renault for Mercedes F1 engines

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Lotus, Mercedes Benz, Renault

Lotus and Mercedes in F1

With only three manufacturers supplying engines in Formula One this season, the teams have been fairly evenly split: Ferrari, Sauber and Marussia use Ferrari engines; Mercedes, McLaren, Williams and Force India run on Mercedes power; Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Lotus and Caterham employ Renault power units. But one important team is reportedly preparing to ditch Renault and switch to Mercedes for next year.

That team is Lotus, an outfit which has fallen off its pace the past few seasons but which has still been a vital partner for Renault. That's because until a few seasons ago, the team based in Enstone, UK, was owned by Renault and bore the company's name. The operation was founded in 1981 as Toleman, was rechristened Benetton in 1986, bought by Renault 2000, taking the company's name in 2002, sold to its current owners Genii Capital 2009 and adopting the black and gold Lotus livery in 2011. As Benetton, it ran Ford engines until switching to Renault in 1995, sticking with the French outfit ever since, but that decades-long partnership - which meandered through Renault ownership and back out again - is now apparently drawing to a close.

The departure of Lotus as a customer team ought to allow Renault to focus instead on its increasing ties with Red Bull, which has taken the Enstone team's place as Renault's principal team. It could prove a smart move for the Lotus team as well, as the Mercedes engines have been outperforming the Renault units this season by an order of magnitude: not only is Mercedes far outpacing Red Bull at the top of the standings, but each of Mercedes' customer teams is performing better than Renault's clients.

The deal will also keep the list of clients at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (née Ilmor Engineering) on an even keel as McLaren similarly ditches its long-term partnership with Mercedes next season as it brings Honda back onto the grid. Though Marussia and Toro Rosso have yet to announce their engine suppliers for next season, the other teams are expected to stick with their current partnerships.

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Renault replaces top F1 leadership

07/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Hirings/Firings, Renault

Renault Sport F1 2014 Power Unit

Renault is a company accustomed to winning in Formula One. In the past ten years alone, it has claimed an unfathomable six world championships, first with Fernando Alonso two years in a row and then powering Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing to four consecutive titles. But suffice it to say that things haven't been going so well this season since the introduction of the new hybrid turbocharged V6s as Mercedes-Benz has stolen its thunder. The teams it supplies aren't happy, and neither is the French automaker itself. Which could go a long way towards explaining why it's changing the top leadership in its F1 operations.

As of July 3, Renault Sport F1 president Jean-Michel Jalinier is stepping down, exercising "his right to retirement for personal reasons," according to the statement below. In his place, Renault has appointed two successors.

Jérôme Stoll, who has until now served as the company's executive vice president, Chief Performance Officer and director of sales and marketing, is stepping up to serve as the division's president, all the while maintaining his existing roles. Alongside him Cyril Abiteboul has been named Managing Director of Renault Sport F1, having previously served as its Development Director and Executive Director before taking over the Caterham F1 Team prior to its recent sale and his dismissal.

We'll have to wait and see whether the shift in leadership will help Renault get its engines up to speed for next season, because if it can't, it may find its four current customer teams (Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Lotus and Caterham) looking elsewhere for motivation.

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Renault developing new Sport Trophy with 500 hp

06/20/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Euro, Renault, Racing

Renault Sport Trophy

If you're ever in Europe and have the chance to stop by a World Series by Renault event, you'll be in for a treat. For one thing, the tickets are free. For another, they take place at some of the best circuits Europe has to offer, like Monza, Monaco, Spa and the Nürburgring. It's produced some of the best racing drivers in the world, including multiple F1 champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, Le Mans winner Marc Gené and three-time WTCC champ Andy Priaulx. And it includes all kinds of action.

One event includes races in Formula Renault 3.5, Formula Renault 2.0 and the Mégane Trophy. But now Renault Sport Technologies is working on a new kind of racecar.

Previewed in the teaser image above, the Renault Sport Trophy show car is set to be unveiled late in August at the Moscow Motor Show. Designed specifically for competition (and not based on an existing road car), the Renault Sport Trophy is being built by Dallara around a carbon monocoque chassis, with a Nismo engine channeling over 500 horsepower through a Sadev seven-speed sequential transmission. Michelin is developing the racing slicks and the whole package is set to weigh around 2,500 lbs.

That would make the new Trophy racer much faster than the existing Mégane Trophy, but whether the former will replace the latter or form a new category above it on the World Series ticket remains to be seen.

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Renault sets 'Ring record with new Megane RS 275 Trophy-R [w/video]

06/17/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Euro, Hatchbacks, Renault

Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy-R

Clocking a lap time of less than eight minutes on the Nürburgring is a real feat in just about any car. But a front-driver? That's the gauntlet that Seat threw down March when it hustled its new Leon Cupra 280 around the Nordschleife in 7:58.4, knocking Renault off its perch for the quickest front-drive lap of the famous German track. In doing so, Seat practically handed Renault - which had claimed the record time and time again - an embossed invitation to beat its time, and Renault was only too happy to oblige.

The French automaker known overseas as le roi des hot-hatches proclaimed in April that it was gunning for a sub-eight-minute lap time of its own, showed us what it was working on in May and revealed the new Mégane 275 Trophy just a month ago. The enhanced hot hatch, we assumed, would be the one with which it would reclaim its title, but that job actually belongs to the even more extreme version you see here.

Called the Mégane RS 275 Trophy-R, Renault's new flagship performance model takes the place once occupied by the previous Mégane R26.R as the ultimate front-drive track tool. Its 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four is tuned to the same 275 horsepower as the aforementioned 275 Trophy and packs the same Cup chassis, limited-slip differential, titanium Akrapovic exhaust, Öhlins adjustable dampers and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, but does away with the rear seats, replaces the front ones with Recaro composite racing buckets and six-point harnesses, fits a lightweight lithium-ion battery and replaces the stock brakes with larger but lighter steel and aluminum discs.

As a result, Renaultsport has managed to trim over 200 pounds off the curb weight, which helped the Trophy-R clock a lap time of 7:54.36, making it 14 seconds quicker than the previous Mégane RS Trophy, over four seconds quicker than the Leon, and the quickest front-drive vehicle ever to lap the Nordschleife. For now, anyway, until Seat takes another stab at it, or another rival (like Honda or Opel) get in on the action.

Renault will only build 250 of these for customers in 15 countries (most if not all of them members of the EU, we're sure), complete with the 19-inch Speedline wheels and optional black, white and red livery pictured here. Watching the footage of the record-setting lap, then, will probably be as close as most of us get to seeing what the new king of the hot hatches can do, so check it out in the video along with the press release below and the fresh gallery of high-resolution images above.

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Renault and Caterham officially dissolve Alpine partnership

06/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Euro, Renault

Alpine factory in Dieppe

It was a nice idea while it lasted, but evidently it wasn't meant to be. The joint venture established between Renault and Caterham to launch a new sports car has now come to a crashing halt.

The partnership was forged in 2012 against the backdrop of increasing ties between the two companies: the Caterham F1 team was running Renault engines, Tony Fernandes wanted to put Renault engines in the road-going Caterham Seven, there was talk of collaborating on all manner of vehicles and a sports car seemed like a natural place to start. Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham was established at the historic Alpine factory in Dieppe, France, with each partner holding 50 percent. The goal was to launch a pair of sports cars to be based on common architecture but differentiated for sale by both partners by 2016.

Unfortunately, tensions began to flare between the English and French parties to the joint venture earlier this year. Disagreements emerged over certain parameters, and development was delayed. Now Renault and Caterham have announced the dissolution of the joint venture altogether.

As a result, Renault will take over Caterham's stake in the operation, dropping the latter's name from the venture that will now be known strictly as Société des Automobiles Alpine, the term "société" having a more corporate connotation in French than a social one and the company now essentially becoming another division of the Renault Group that also includes Dacia and Renault Samsung Motors along with strategic alliances with AvtoVaz and Nissan (including Infiniti and Datsun).

Moving forward, both Renault and Caterham still plan to launch their own sports cars independently, and while the Alpine joint venture may have dissolved, the announcement jointly released below doesn't rule out "other forms of cooperation" between the two in the future.

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Ghosn predicts autonomous cars on the roads by 2018, if laws allow

06/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Government/Legal, Safety, Tech, Nissan, Renault

Nissan Autonomous Leaf

Things appear to be going well inside Nissan's autonomous vehicle development program. Until now, the automaker believed that self-driving cars would be ready for major markets like the US by 2020. However, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is now speeding up that prediction to 2018 in some places, assuming that local laws are ready to accept the computer-controlled vehicles.

"The problem isn't technology, it's legislation, and the whole question of responsibility that goes with these cars moving around," said Ghosn in a speech in France recorded by Reuters. He predicted that the first sales could begin in France, Japan and the US by 2018 and expand elsewhere in 2020.

The alliance has been among the forefront of automakers working on self-driving cars. Nissan has an autonomous Leaf (pictured above) test car that is licensed to drive on Japanese roads. Renault showed off an version of its Zoe EV earlier this year called the Next Two, that could pilot itself at speeds up to 18 miles per hour, and that the company predicted would be ready by 2020.

Governments are still deciding how to treat the new technology, though. The California DMV just released a detailed list of rules governing autonomous vehicle testing on public roads. It seems astonishing that the nation could be just four years away from the first self-driving cars finding their way to consumers.

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1928 Renault Type NN Tourer from Indiana Jones up for auction

06/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Convertibles, Auctions, Renault, UK, TV/Movies

1928 Renault Type NN Tourer

It's uncommon for a film's sequel to surpass the original, and it's even rarer for the third movie in a series to be the best. However, that's arguably the case with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Its perfect combination of exciting action set pieces, humor and great performances from Harrison Ford and Sean Connery might make it the pinnacle of the franchise. Now, a 1928 Renault Type NN Tourer with an on-screen role in one of the film's major scenes is heading to auction in the UK from Historics at Brooklands.

The Renault shows up in the fantastic tank chase scene late in the film where Donovan, the villain, rides in it for a time. For Indiana Jones filming in Spain, the car was painted and made to look dirty, but when the movie finished, it went to the UK for a repaint and engine rebuild.

The Type NN has humble beginnings for a movie star. Its design is quite utilitarian with a four-door tourer body, but the rear seats and interior panels are removable to expose its wooden floorboards and convert it into a makeshift pickup. That way, French farmers could load it with produce during the week and use it as a family car on the weekends. A four-cylinder engine with a claimed 50-mile-per-hour top speed might make tank chasing somewhat difficult in real life.

This Type NN comes with both a French and UK registration, according to Historics at Brooklands. It estimates the Renault will sell for 9,000-14,000 pounds ($15,075-$23,450) at the June 7 auction. That seems reasonable for a car that combines a funky design with some very interesting provenance. Scroll down to read the full description of this movie star car.

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