Galvanizing its reputation as the greatest purveyor of hot hatches, Renault unveils the lightweight R26.R in London. Mercifully this new bespoke, lightweight Megane road-racer has not suffered the ridiculous naming misadventure as its Megane F1 Team R26 cousin. Simply called the R26.R it weighs 123kg less than a R26, sports the same power and comes unnervingly close to the magic eight minute Nurburgring lap-time barrier.Trimmed downAlthough the R26.R is powered by the same 2-litre 169kW turbomotor which powers other Megane hot hatches, performance, especially handling fluidity, is on an even higher level – which takes some doing considering the R26’s formidable reputation.Trimming weight was a key design imperative and a carbon bonnet and polycarbonate rear screen and quarter lights were the first points in achieving a weight reduction. Interior comfort and convenience has been severely compromised in the interest of dynamics, with the rear-seats being binned along with climate control and most of the sound proofing material. In the interest of driver safety a single airbag has been retained.Essentially you en up with a stripped out Megane featuring two Sabelt bucket seats and harness belts with aviation-style six-point harness belts and a range of aesthetically questionable garish exterior graphic finishes. RingmeisterLooks and comfort are hardly the point though. Most of the design expertise has been put into the chassis and suspension tuning, and here the R26.R promises to be peerless. Riding on red 18-inch R26.R specific wheels shod with suicidal optional TOYO PROXES R888 tyres grip – in the dry – should be epic, especially with the R26 limited-slip differential keeping torque steer under control. As for damping spring ratings have been uprated from 13.4mm to 14mm/100kg up front with one of the bushes between the lower arm and front sub-frame stiffened too. At the rear spring rates have been increased from 15.1mm to 16.2mm/100kg with chassis specific calibration. The 8 minute 17 second Nurburgring lap-time puts these changes into perspective – especially as it’s 17 seconds quicker than a VW Golf R32 for instance.Employing a similar Brembo supplied braking system to the other performance Renault models, the key R26.R dynamic differentiation are that brake discs are grooved and not cross-drilled.The 169kW 2-litre turbomotor drives through the same R26 ND0*020 gearbox, yet equipped with a shorter linkage for even quicker changes 0-100km/h is now a six second sprint. Limited numbersAs a madly track-focussed daily driver only 450 R26.Rs will be built at the Alpine-Renault factory in Dieppe, France. Options include a roll-cage and titanium exhaust. Allocation is as follows: 230 for Great Britain, 126 for France, 26 each for Switzerland, Spain, Germany and ten cars for the Dutch – which leaves six cars unaccounted for and probably due for dedicated racing or museum duty. South Africa, unfortunately, will not be receiving any.