Mégane E-TECH Electric: A French icon is reinvented
Discover EV expert verdict...
- Best in-car tech in its class
- Great looks
- Premium cabin
- Only charges up to 130kW
- UK models yet to receive heat pump
- Choppy ride
An early adopter of electrification, Renault has over ten years’ experience and worldwide, more than 10 billion e-kilometres have been covered by 300,000 vehicles, with the supermini ZOE taking the lion’s share. Effectively, this means that the car maker has collected more data from its vehicle’s batteries than any other manufacturer, thus making it easier to improve the design and chemistry of the cell modules so that they last longer. And having worked with various specialists – from storage to maritime companies – to re-use second, and even third-life, batteries, the French car brand have shown a serious willingness to both sustainable mobility and a circular economy. With the all-new Mégane E-TECH Electric it further embodies Renault’s commitment towards an impending electric revolution. We head to the UK press launch to find out more.
The PR team say the Mégane E-TECH Electric as much a joy to drive as it is to behold. We would disagree somewhat. Utilising Pseudo McPherson suspension up front and train multilink (cradle and connecting rods) at the rear, this setup is known among online communities as ‘chopstick suspension’, because the hanging connecting rods are as thin as chopsticks. The biggest advantage is that it ensures the overall stiffness of the suspension, but also saves costs and simplifies the manufacturing process. At the same time, such a setup has a weak ability to resist roll, and can only rely on shock absorbers to withstand roll forces, so it is beneficial to install anti-roll bars. The electric Mégane instead relies on a lowered centre of gravity (made possible thanks to the batteries mounted under the floor) to do that job naturally, which translates fine on smooth tarmac or round town, but the moment you hit a bumpy B-road at speed the Mégane E-TECH Electric becomes very lively and uncomfortable. Our test car was riding on 20 inch rims, so we imagine that on the standard 18s the ride might have been less choppy. On the plus side, with a 12.0 optimised steering ratio (lowest in its segment) the Mégane E-TECH Electric responds fast to movements and is very sensitive providing brilliant feedback.
As with most EVs there are three pre-programmed modes (Eco, Comfort, and Sport), which alter the power steering, engine calibration and accelerator responsiveness, as well as the lighting, heating and instrument display visualisation and colour. The electrically excited synchronous motor (EESM) has 215bhp and 221lb-ft of torque – boasting better power output compared to permanent magnet motors and doesn’t require rare earth metals, thereby reducing the environmental impact and cost of large-scale production. Thanks to its optimised design, it is also compact and weighs just 145kg – 10 per cent less than the engine currently used on ZOE, despite a marked increase in power and torque. The 0-62mph dash takes just 7.5 seconds – which is on a par with a lot of its rivals and more than enough for the urban city driver – Renault’s core market apparently.
There are four interchangeable brake levels that can be selected via the switches located behind the steering wheel: Level 0 (no regenerative braking) up to Level 3 (maximum regeneration and optimised engine brake) enabling one pedal driving. The transition from mechanical to regenerative braking is very smooth.
Range and running costs
Renault deliberately chose to offer the electric Mégane with no options or packs, instead customers can opt for three models, the entry-level Equilibre starting at £35,995 (£459 per month), Techo (£38,495/£499p/m) or the range-topping Launch Edition (£39,995, £529p/m). To simplifying things even further, as Renault say there are enough issues with the infrastructure without adding further complications –there is just one battery (for the UK), which is 60kWh for a WLTP-certified range of up to 280 miles on a single charge. Sadly it only charges up to 130kW so it will take you 30 minutes to gain back 186 miles or 248 miles overnight with a 7.4kW wallbox.
On the upside, and much like its new powertrain, the Mégane E-TECH Electric also has a brand-new battery designed to fit perfectly on the CMF-EV platform. At 110mm (for 1960mm length and 1450mm width) – it is 40 per cent smaller than the ZOE battery, and the thinnest on the market. It contributes to lowering the total height of the vehicle at 1.5m, and tips the scales at 395kg – helping to contribute to the car’s accolade of being 100kg lighter than its competitors. In turn this all means better aerodynamics and efficiency. Talking of which, Renault quote 16.1Wh/62 miles (or 3.86 mi/kWh). At the start of our 45 mile test route we had 187 miles/99 per cent battery (far less than the quoted figure!) and drove in eco for the first 22 miles bringing the total to 178 miles/88 per cent and in Sport for the remainder finishing with 156 miles/76 per cent, bringing down the average on the consumption (monitored over the last 92 miles according to the trip computer) from 5.5 to 5.1mi/kWh – far better than Renault claim!
Being electric it’s also cheaper to run compared to a similar sized ICE vehicle.
Renault say that the Mégane E-TECH Electric is a game-changer in design and that’s partly thanks to the Alliance-developed CMF-EV platform, which has allowed them to rewrite the rulebook and push the boundaries – not just in terms of styling, but also footprint and versatility. The platform features a reduced engine compartment, with parts being more compact than on ICE motors. Combined with an extended wheelbase and the wheels pushed out to the four corners of the vehicle, the additional volume has been put to good use to create a unique exterior, enhanced spaciousness and innovative interior design, which we’ll come to in a bit.
As the first model of a new generation of EV cars from Renault, it bears the brand’s new ‘Nouvel’R’ logo, it also goes against the grain of what traditional compact hatchbacks look like and embodies a new ‘sensual-tech’ language – think more curves, a higher perceived feeling of quality and technological elements such as finely laser cut LED lights and a unique welcome sequence.
There are features inspired by crossovers to give a sense of robustness – like the large 20 inch wheels, protective strips on the lower side and wheel arches and high beltline, but also coupé-like details such as the receding roofline, wide tracks and flush door handles, with all the practicalities of a roomy hatchback to top it off.
It is available in six body colours – Cerarmic Grey, Shadow Grey, Midnight Blue, Flame Red, Diamond Black, and Glacier White, as well as a two-tone finish.
Despite its compact shape, the Mégane E-TECH Electric offers over 30 litres of on-board storage, the best in its class (more on that in the next section). All upholstery is made out of recycled materials, as well as the lower cockpit and parts you can’t see, and by the end of its lifecycle 95 per cent of the vehicle will be recycled. That’s not to say it’s lacking in quality though with touches such as a textile finished dashboard and very few hard plastics on view – ensuring its interior stands up to premium brands, while the racing style steering wheel (with the shifter to the right not the left like in the ZOE) is a nod to Renault's F1 heritage and lends it a sportier feel. It even features full LED mood lighting based on the human body’s natural 24-hour circadian cycles to apparently optimise the well-being of occupants!
The car’s crowning jewel is the OpenR screen that incorporates the 12.3 inch instrument panel (with four different display options) and 9 inch multimedia interface with navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and connected services including over-the-air software updates all standard.. For us the best part is that Renault partnered with Google – which for the Maps alone is a Godsend, for it shows how much battery you'll have remaining when you arrive at a destination and suggests chargers on route if you're potentially going to run out of juice. The dashboard display can be totally customised, featuring five widgets (fuel use, tyre pressure, distance, eco-monitor, music) and eight colour schemes and in terms of responsiveness and resolution its apparently best-in-class. We also like the fact that everything you need, you can access at the touch of a button.
Comfort and practicality
With the roomiest interior in relation to its footprint, it should comfortably sit four large adults – with 21cms of legroom for the rear passengers. Renault has gone to great lengths to create a serene environment too – with sound-absorbing foam between the car’s floor and battery, and just about everything covered in acoustic damping materials, even the storage compartments in the door panels are lined with carpet for added visual comfort and to control vibration and noise radiation. And if you don’t want the serenity of a well-insulated electric car you can pump out your tunes via the top-of-the-line Harman Kardon sound system if you opt for premium trim.
In addition to a large 7 litre storage compartment between the two seats, there are two cup holders and a handy cubby under the armrest. There are 440 litres of boot space and the charging cables that have their own 32 litre area. Did we mention the Mégane E-TECH Electric has one of the best towing capacities for its category, too? Well, it does – with the ability to tow a trailer weighing up to 900kg (braked).
Even the entry-level Equilibre is well-equipped, including automatic dual-zone air conditioning, one-touch electric windows, heated steering wheel and front seats, rear park assist, rear view camera, two front and two rear USB-C ports, automatic windscreen wipers, keyless entry, together with a comprehensive array of safety and driver assistance systems including distance warning alert, traffic sign recognition, automatic emergency braking with junction assist including pedestrian and cyclist alerts, cruise control with speed limiter, driver drowsiness alert, emergency lane keeping assist with oncoming traffic and road-edge detection, hill start assist, and emergency e-call.
C segment cars are a key driver of success for the European automotive market, with 1.26 million registered units, or 46 per cent of the total (source: Jato Europe-29 New Car Registrations H1). Of those cars 40 per cent of them are electrified models, so it’s no surprise Renault are confident it’s the right product at the right time – and with 10,000 customers registering their interest since the car’s global reveal at the IAA Munich Mobility Show last year the brand are hoping to build on the previous successes under the Mégane name.
Synonymous with the compact hatch, having seen four generations over the past 26 years, the all-new E-TECH Electric pays homage to Megane’s heritage through its design and versatility but with all the benefits of an electric car, as well as new features, and the unprecedented size-to-space ratio.
Free from any ICE heritage – and no other option of an electric powertrain for UK customers, the PR team are quick to admit that it’s a brave move but with other petrol alternatives in their range (the CLIO and Captur are available as a hybrid), they’re not worried. They say they’re in a strong position with EVs and wanted to re-enter the C segment, and that the Mégane E-TECH is a ‘future proof’ product. People, they say, are moving the EVs quicker than they expected!
And if they’re looking for a family EV then the Megane should definitely be on their shortlist!
2022 Mégane E-Tech Electric
Price (RRP OTR): From £35,995
Top speed: 99.4mph
0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
Driving range (combined): 280 miles
Charging time: 9hrs 15m (7.4kW, 0-100%), 3hrs 15m (22kW, 0-100%), 1hr 15m (130kW, 0-80%)
Insurance group: 26E
Vehicle warranty: 5 years /100,000 miles
Battery warranty: 8 years / 100,000 miles