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Renault’s Sandero R.S. hot hatch is a forbidden fruit that even Europeans can’t have

Paris-based Renault has traveled to the Buenos Aires Motor Show that opened its doors today in Argentina to introduce a new hot hatch dubbed Sandero R.S.

Set to become the first-ever R.S.-badged model built outside of Europe, the company’s latest pocket rocket is based on the Sandero, an entry-level hatchback sold as a Dacia in most of Europe. It is powered by a naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine that sends nearly 150 horsepower to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. That’s certainly not a lot on paper, but it’s plenty in a back-to-the-basics economy hatchback that tips the scale at under 2,500 pounds.

The extra power is complemented by a re-tuned suspension that lowers the ride height, a less intrusive electronic stability control system, and disc brakes on all four corners — the run-of-the-mill Sandero is still fitted with a pair of old-fashioned drums on the rear axle.

The Sandero also gets a much sportier look that borrows styling cues from other members of Renault’s sport-focused R.S. lineup. The front end is fitted with a large air dam integrated into a deeper bumper, a Formula 1-inspired blade, gloss black trim on the grille and thin LED daytime running lights, while the rear fascia gains a trunk-mounted spoiler, clear tail lamps and an imitation air diffuser. Side skirts and 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped by Continental tires add a finishing touch to the look.

The track-inspired look continues inside with alloy pedals, a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel with a red R.S. emblem, and model-specific cloth upholstery with gray and red accents. The list of standard equipment includes the latest generation of Renault’s touch screen-based R Link infotainment system.

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The Renault Sandero R.S. is scheduled to go on sale across Argentina and in a number of neighboring countries early next year. The hatchback was designed exclusively for Latin America, and Renault has made it clear that it won’t be sold in Europe with a Dacia emblem on the grille.