More than seven million Renault Mégane models have been sold worldwide since it hit our roads in 1995. With a comprehensive update across the whole Mégane family, comes the new E-TECH Plug-in hybrid giving buyers the chance to sample an electric driving experience with the back-up of a 1.6-litre petrol engine. We attend the international launch to see what it’s like.
The Mégane E-TECH Plug-in hybrid also joins the all-new Clio E-TECH Hybrid, Captur E-TECH Plug-in hybrid and award-winning ZOE in Renault’s growing electrified car range. Astonishingly, when you also take into account the Twizy, the French car brand has been topping the European EV sales chart (with its BEV, HEV and PHEV cars) since 2010, selling 295,200 vehicles over Tesla’s 251,800, so it must be doing something right.
Built on the versatile Common Module Family (CMF) platform, the revised Renault Megane Sport Tourer features improved styling, new interior features, and most importantly for us, E-TECH powertrains offering up to 30 miles of electric range using technology influenced by the Renault DP World F1 team. Priced from £30,685 OTR in Iconic specification, first deliveries commence in November.
The downside is it’s a part-time electric car, but it is a chance for people to test the viability of life with an electric car before committing – look at them as a vehicle for paving the way to a fully electric future. The other advantage of the E-TECH hybrid system is lower fuel economy and CO2 emissions, as well as smooth, quiet driving, and immediate torque on tap from the electric motor.
The Mégane Sport Tourer has also put on weight as a result of the batteries, which are located beneath the rear seat bench – some 105kg – but Renault say they have counteracted any negative effect it may have on the driving experience by enhancing the rear suspension with a new fine-tuned multi-arm system. Those batteries have also had an impact on boot space compared to the regular Renault Megane estate. The PHEV version has 447 litres of luggage space (just trumping the plug-in Kia Ceed Sportswagon at least) with the rear seats up and 1247 litres with them folded versus 580 litres and 1433 litres respectively.
The E-TECH powertrain is available in two trim levels – Iconic (includes 16 inch ‘Impulse’ diamond-cut alloy wheels, electric heated and folding door mirrors, electric front and rear windows, LED headlamps and rear lights, automatic lights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control with speed limiter, lane-departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic high/low beam, handsfree keycard, automatic dual-zone climate control A/C, eight ambient lighting colours) and R.S. Line (adding Automatic Emergency Braking System and rear parking camera) and both models feature a brand new TFT Driver Information Display (7 inch for the Iconic, 10 inch for the R.S. Line) and Easy Link Navigation system (with 7 inch touchscreen for the Iconic and 9.3 touchscreen for the R.S. Line) and DAB radio, two USB connections, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also comes with a free home charging wallbox and a generous comprehensive five-year warranty with unlimited mileage limit in the first two years, together with an eight-year battery warranty.
Using a combination of a 1598cc petrol engine and two electric motors, the new Mégane Sport Tourer E-TECH PHEV offers 160hp and up to 151lb-ft of torque, enabling it to complete the 0-62mph run in 9.8 seconds. In all electric mode it’ll reach speeds of up to 84mph (where permitted, of course) for 30 miles or 118mph when the engine is engaged. The Mégane also returns impressive fuel economy (up to 217.3mpg apparently, although that will be conducted in a laboratory environment, of course) with CO2 emissions rated at just 30g/km, making the Sport Tourer an enticing proposition for company car drivers falling into the 10% benefit-in-kind tax bracket.
MultiSense driving modes allow the driver to hone the driving experience, with a choice of three to pick from: Pure (all-electric driving), MySense (optimises hybrid running for the most efficient drive and most efficient use of the powertrain), and Sport (offers maximum performance by combining power from the petrol engine and electric motor). An E-Save feature reserves battery power (at least 40 per cent) so it can be saved for use later on, for example in built-up areas to reduce tailpipe emissions, while B mode captures energy lost under braking and deceleration and feeds back to the battery for use later.
Once the battery is drained you’ll experience slightly more noise (especially in Sport mode when you plant the throttle) as the four-cylinder ICE effectively transforms into a generator, sending its power to the battery to ensure you’ve got enough charge to always start the car in EV only mode.
It’s obviously different to the regular version in that it has immediate torque availability which gives it better agility when driving around towns, while on the open roads the E-TECH Plug-in hybrid is just as engaging, with the electrical assistance from the motor delivering an extra boost during hard acceleration and the F1-inspired multi-mode clutchless gearbox providing smooth gear changes. The damping is very good, riding our less than perfect roads rather well, and it turns in very nicely too with little body roll when driving spiritedly through the bends.
I only managed to do 20 miles averaging 17.4 kWh/100. I then carried on for a further 22 miles in Sport mode, surprisingly averaging a not so different 16.8 kWh/100 while clawing back 11 miles of range. I wasn’t driving particularly conservedly but even so I’m well off Renault’s estimate of 6.71 kWh/100km, suggesting that official fuel economy figures quoted by car makers are different than what a driver can really expect from a car in the real world with different factors such as driving style, traffic levels and environmental conditions coming into play. But then, we all knew that!
Exterior styling tweaks for the facelifted fourth-generation Renault Mégane Sport Tourer include new front and rear bumpers and new LED headlamps, together with a lightly revamped cabin. It’s the sporty new R.S. Line that impresses most (and is available for the first time to Mégane customers). It brings styling inspired by record-breaking Mégane R.S. models, including unique front and rear bumpers, eye-catching new diamond-cut 17-inch ‘Monthlery’ alloy wheels and R.S. badging. Inside the interior is more refined than ever with an RS-inspired dash, black Alcantara and leather upholstery with red stitching and chrome door sill plates. Overall it’s extremely handsome for an estate and feels very premium, especially for the price.
It’s more expensive than the Kia, with its range-topping ‘3’ specification costing just under 30 grand compared to £30,685 for the new plug-in Mégane Sport Tourer or £32,685 for the RS Line. It also won’t travel as far as the Kia on battery power (with a range of 35 miles), but it certainly drives and looks better than its South Korean rival.
Better still, if you do intend on making the most of the electric range available Renault will give you a free BP Chargemaster home wallbox, which tops up the batteries in just over three hours.
Price (OTR RRP): From £30,685
Top speed: 111mph
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Driving range (WLTP): 30 miles
CO2 emission: 30g/km
Fuel consumption: 217.29
Home charging: 3 hours (7.4kW wall box), 4 hours 15 minutes (2.3kW three pin)
Insurance group: 22E (Iconic), TBC (R.S. Line)
Warranty: Five-year/unlimited-mileage (in first two years) eight-year/100,000 mile battery warranty