Renault Megane V6 - 1998

Since the creation of 'Espace Sbarro in Switzerland and Espera in Pontarlier, carmakers have been asking Franco Sbarro and his students to work on one of their models. This has been the case with Alfa Romeo (Issima) and Lancia (Ionos), to name but the most spectacular. In 1998, Renault, through its Style Center and Product Marketing Department, teamed up with Sbarro to design the Espace spider, which caused a sensation at the opening of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Mégane Coupé V6, which was one of the stars of the Geneva Motor Show in March 1998.

Coupé with V6 engine in mid-rear position, the Megane gets a lot meaner (photo by Dingo for Option Auto). 

"Changing the spirit while respecting the form"

The project was closely supervised by Yves Legal, who at the time was responsible for the development of the Renault 5 Turbo. So it's no coincidence that the spirit of the latter can be found in the Mégane Coupé V6. The original engine has been replaced by PSA-Renault's original V6, which powers the Peugeot 406 Coupé and Renault Laguna, among others. No mechanical modifications have been made, as the original power of 194 hp is deemed sufficient. However, instead of being positioned at the front, the V6 has been installed in a central position, in place of the rear bench seat (the car thus becomes a strict two-seater). The engine-gearbox unit was attached to the original monocoque using four silent-blocs.
The original front suspensions are more flexibly adjusted, as they no longer have to bear the weight of the engine. At the rear, on the other hand, the standard axle has been replaced by a newly designed unit that governs the entire engine-gear-suspension unit. Under the hood is a removable luggage compartment above the spare wheel.
All these modifications were carried out in accordance with the rules of the art, leaving the original structure of the coupé untouched, thus perfectly meeting the specifications of the project, namely to change the essence while respecting the form.
The side air intake is no fake: it cools the rear-mounted V6 (photo by Dingo for Option Auto).

Full rear end

Visually, Sbarro's aim is to draw the eye to the rear end, to emphasize the unusual position of the engine on this Mégane coupé. The car's width has been increased from the windshield pillar (+4 cm) to the rear wheels (+20 cm). The body seems to swell progressively towards the rear. The front end, on the other hand, changes more subtly. The most visible change is the disappearance of the air intake, no longer justified since the engine has moved to the rear. Franco Sbarro declares that "the wrap-around front spoiler and completely flat floor meet the new aerodynamic requirements imposed by sporty driving". As for the interior, it remains very close to the original: there are two Sparco alcantara bucket seats, a steering wheel and pedals of the same make, and a new aluminum gearshift grille.


The widening of the rear end is clearly visible in the lights and their air intakes (photo by Dingo for Option Auto).

Balance and liveliness

The few journalists who got the chance to take it for a spin first noted the pervasive noise from the almost free-flowing exhaust. Then they praised the machine's remarkable balance, with healthy roadholding, precise controls and surprising suppleness for an "artisanal" sports car. Of course, the central position of the engine means that the car's handling is different from that of an original Mégane coupé. The car becomes livelier and, above all, sportier. In a word, more fun! Performance, although not measured, seems to live up to expectations.

In brief
1- Official collaboration between Renault, Sbarro and Espace Sbarro
2- Rear mid-mounted V6 engine
3- Remarkable balance for a hand-built car