When the hot hatch was born in Europe, markets abroad have pined for them ever since. The U.S. has emulated this niche of car culture quite well with their 'sport compacts'. However, it is the low-volume top-performance models that the U.S. car enthusiasts rarely seem to get. The Renault Mégane RS and it’s hardcore, halo sibling – the Mégane RS Trophy – are just a few such vehicles just out of reach for Americans. During the Frankfurt Motor Show last September, Renault debuted the 2018 Mégane RS – a 280 brake horsepower hot hatch. But even then, we knew there’d be a hotter version coming – the RS Trophy. 

The first spy photos of the hardcore Mégane RS Trophy show the hatch performance testing at the Nürburgring. Details are scarce, however. When we covered the 2018 Mégane RS reveal, we suspected the Trophy to produce 300 bhp – a 20 bhp bump over the standard RS. That’s still the prevailing rumor. Renault engineers will most likely massage this extra power from the RS’s turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine with a more free-flowing exhaust, and possibly an engine remap. 

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The Mégane RS Trophy caught in the spy photos isn’t wearing any camouflage, which means this prototype is likely undergoing engine testing. Any aesthetic changes coming with the Trophy are probably still in development. This test mule does have a low ride height with the wheels tucked far up underneath the wheel-wells. The last Mégane RS Trophy rode on adjustable Öhlins dampers and Allevard composite springs. It’s plausible the new hatch will have a similar suspension setup of performance parts. 

Mercedes-AMG may be hoping to make the A45 a hot-hatch benchmark, but it is also producing a less potent AMG A35 hatch that will also create around 300 bhp. The Renault Mégane RS Trophy could be setting itself up to be a rival to the AMG’s entry-level offering. If both do produce approximately 300 horsepower, it will be fun to watch the two compete head-to-head. 

Hopefully, we won’t have to wait long for such a comparison. Renault should debut the Mégane RS Trophy later this year, which should lay the groundwork for a Trophy-R version to follow sometime in 2019. 

Photos: Automedia

Gallery: Renault Mégane RS Trophy Spy Photos

Photo by: Automedia