Renault Megane E-Tech – Light-footed tram

The latest addition to Renault’s electrified family has come to us for a classic weekly test. Even before this model, Renault had quite a success with its first electric car, the Zoe. That was also the best-selling electric car in the world at the time. So will the new Megane E-Tech build on the success of that little car!
The electric Renault Megane E-Tech is built on the all-new CMF-EV platform developed by the Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi alliance. The powertrain is housed above the front axle and it is also the only one driven here. The Iconic-equipped version of the EV60 we tested is powered by a 160kW electric motor that draws power from a slim 60kWh Li-ion battery pack. We are not yet able to get a lower-powered version with a 96kW electric motor and a 40kWh battery. The latter can then only be bought in very basic equipment. The odd thing is that Renault doesn’t specify for the battery whether it’s the total or usable capacity of the battery.
The look of the new Megan is modern and perhaps strange to some. It divides the neighborhood into admirers and “haters”. The new Renault logo on the front bonnet is meant to embody the brand’s transformation. From it, wider lines run out sideways, which change to Full LED headlights on the sides of the body. These are joined by a line descending down to a gold trim element that Renault calls the ‘F1 bar’.
A side view reveals large, 20-inch aluminum wheels with low-profile tires. On the passenger side, a charging port is also located in the side bumper behind the front wheel. The vehicle’s luxurious feel is further enhanced by the special retractable front door handles. They are a bit clumsy to handle but this is because of the better aerodynamics of the vehicle, because in electric cars every watt saved in consumption counts. It’s just a pity that Renault didn’t use, for example, a camera system instead of mirrors (like the Honda E), because it’s the rear-view mirrors that create excessive noise at cruising speeds above km/h.
The tailgate handles are recessed in the C-pillar and are intuitive to use and you know how to use them the first time. The silhouette of the car is gradually decreasing with a small overhang at the end. The black glossy roof and also the thin bar around the bottom of the car narrow the vehicle wide at first glance.
The rear of the car is again hidden by the gold trim above the rear diffuser, complemented by other black painted parts. A silver and red line runs across the boot lid, which is part of the LED taillights. This line is split exactly down the middle by the carmaker’s emblem and the model designation below it. There is a small button to open the trunk, but it is not electric, even at an extra cost. Again, a pity, because perhaps a little unluckily you have to press that button and then lift the boot by its base and open it manually. Dirty fingers guaranteed.
Inside, the fully digital 12.3-inch dashboard impresses at first glance, which seamlessly connects to the vertically oriented 12-inch OpenR link multimedia screen with Google’s built-in services. On the plus side, all controls and screens are angled toward the driver. At a glance here you know where what button is and what it’s for, so ergonomics are second to none. Thankfully Renault hasn’t gone down the route of touch controls for everything here, but in addition to the main infotainment screen, there are also classic buttons, for example for the climate control.
As we wrote, the Megane E-Tech got a new on-board system from Google. So Renault hasn’t gone the way of other traditional carmakers and developed its own infotainment software, equipping its temporary electric flagship with Android Automotive. So the user simply logs in with their Google account and then has, for example, Google Maps synchronised with those on their phone. However, the system of course allows additional apps to be installed from the Google store. The apps are scarce for now, as the system is quite new, but more apps are sure to be added quickly. Google Maps has seen improvements to make it more convenient to work with the electric car, and so when planning you can see with what state of charge you will arrive at your destination and with what portion of energy in the battery you would arrive back again. If there is not enough energy to reach the specified location, the system will recommend charging on the way. Here the list of recommended chargers could still be improved, as some stations were not known to the system at all.
So much praise for Google’s system, until we have to tell the other side of the coin. The system is still slightly “hacked” despite several updates since the factory. Sometimes the volume control stops working, which then doesn’t work until the system is restarted, other times the phone can’t be paired via Bluetooth. However, we believe that these “flies” will soon be ironed out by Renault and the system will be reliable.
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Across the front door and under the windshield is a decorative element, imitating wood decor. Underneath, a light bar that runs across the front of the car helps to complete the atmosphere. The colours can be selected separately for each driving mode or will change automatically according to the time of day. A phone compartment with Qi-standard wireless charging is then cleverly positioned below the central display. However, the phone in it “travels” considerably during sportier driving and charging disconnects.
There is a Multi Sense button on the steering wheel that changes the vehicle’s driving profiles (Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual). The sportiness of the car is also enhanced by the paddles under the steering wheel, but here they only serve to adjust the degree of recuperation. From full glide through mild, medium and strongest recuperation. In the last, highest level, the braking effect is really strong and it is possible to slow the vehicle quite sharply up to a speed of 10 km/h.
Adaptive cruise control is already commonplace, you set your desired speed on the steering wheel and the car guards the traffic in front of you. Perhaps catching up to a queue could work with more prediction and then more gentle braking. The 360° camera system around the car gives you a close-up view of your surroundings, and there’s also a display in the rear-view mirror on which you can project the view from the rear camera. A great solution as the view to the rear is quite limited from the vehicle, but you need to be careful as the image is very zoomed in and not wide angle. At intersections, you’ll be able to see the crew of the car behind you literally up to their mouths…
The automatic high beam switching works exemplary after dark and hasn t once blinded oncoming vehicles, or in a village it switches straight back to low beam. If you don’t mind controlling your car with your voice, you can also use Google Assistant, but only in English. On the top right side behind the steering wheel is a slim gear lever, which, while it doesn’t take up space in the centre tunnel and so is used for storage and an armrest, does clash slightly with the other two paddles below it. Not that it’s not something to get used to, but I did occasionally have a problem with the wipers coming on instead of shifting into forward gear. The levers are also completely mismatched in design, and so we have a shift lever ala Tesla, a wiper lever ala Arkana, and multimedia controls ala older Renault models.
There’s plenty of storage, and the center tunnel offers an interesting “stacking” system of compartments for drinks and items. Rear seat passengers can ride very comfortably as long as they are no more than about 190cm. The modern trend for black headlining further enhances the cramped impression in the rear seats, making the Megane E-tech seem smaller than it is in reality. Legroom is plentiful in the back, however.
Now let’s take a look at what the new CMF-EV platform boasts in brochures and press releases. It should mainly be economy and efficiency in operation. Admittedly, the consumption figures seemed unbelievable at times, for an electric car built like this and weighing nearly 1,700kg. The manufacturer’s claimed range of 450 km and combined consumption of 15.8 kWh/100km are indeed realistic figures. But only under ideal conditions. In less than a thousand kilometres on mostly motorway roads at speeds of just over 130 km/h, our average consumption figure climbed to 23 kWh/100km. This is due to the cold, brisk driving and less movement in the city.
In the city, in warm weather, however, you will realistically be driving at a luxurious 10 to 13 kWh/100km, and so the range can be as high as 500 kilometres. However, consumption in winter operation is another matter, when the battery gets a workout from the increased need to heat the car’s cabin. The range can drop to 250km on a full charge. AC charging is decent and the on-board charger allows to pull even 22kW from an “ordinary” wallbox. So you can charge a fully discharged battery back to full in about 3 hours, even on a home wallbox if your main breaker allows it. Or a one-hour shopping trip, for example at a charger in a shopping centre somewhere, will give you a city range of less than 200 km. You can also set the maximum charge level in the car’s infotainment system.
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But on the other hand, as far as fast DC charging is concerned, the manufacturer’s maximum value is 130 kW. This is actually achievable though, and in the lower percentages of the state of charge we were sending the maximum portion of power to the car. However, this maximum only lasts for a while and then steadily declines. From about 50% of the battery capacity onwards, the charging is already relatively slow and stays around the value of 100 kW and then drops even more significantly from 80% onwards. There is still room for some software updates.
While you won’t demand sporting performance from such an everyday car, know that the Megane E-Tech craves sharper cornering and can be driven for fun. Even the more than ample 160 kW of power encourages you to do so. Selecting Sport mode gives way to full power, stiffer steering wheel controls and red interior lighting. The car sits nicely in the corners, thanks to a low centre of gravity and 20-inch wheels at the corners of the body. The precisely metered power and stiff steering will put a smile on your face that you won’t even mind that there isn’t a high-volume petrol engine under the bonnet.
The only noise (other than that from the rear view mirrors) is coming from the road surface, so it depends on how good and flat a surface you’re driving on. We haven’t had an electric car with an interior this perfectly soundproofed for a long time. The power of the electric motor pushes you nicely into the seat when you step hard on the accelerator pedal, but it has to be said that there can be the occasional problem of transferring power to the road. As this is a pre-wheel drive car, some of those pebbles or a bit of mud on the road will cause the front wheels to slip in turn, and immediately the ESP steps in to apply the brakes, even if you don’t want it to. That 300Nm, available practically from scratch, can really shake the front end. It pulls to 60 in a flat 7.4 seconds. The manifestation of the 160kW (220hp) electric motor is very pleasing, with quick responses to the ‘throttle’ pedal and smooth and smooth acceleration accompanied by silence. Dynamics are decent, not least at low speeds. The more powerful Megane E-Tech also performs decently on the motorway, but only until the limiter kicks in at 160km/. The responsive acceleration in situations where you need to overtake, for example, is also pleasing. It can accelerate from 80 to 120 km/h in something like 4 seconds.
As for the chassis, the Megane E-Tech works very well indeed here. The chassis filters out bumps beautifully, not only thanks to the work of the dampers, but also acoustically. The electric Megane doesn’t bounce, the wheels don’t bang on the stops, and there’s nothing thumping or vibrating in the car. You’d have to hit a major pothole for something to disturb the silence and peace on board. Renault has managed to tune a great chassis whose abilities are perfectly suited to a quiet electric powertrain. Although looking at the big 20-inch wheels shod in 215/45 tyres, you wouldn’t know it at first. Despite the more compliant suspension, the body doesn’t wobble obnoxiously even on undulating roads, as electric cars with a heavy flashlight in the floor sometimes do. Actually, the Megane E-Tech isn’t that heavy for an electric car. In the tested version, it weighs about 1.7 tonnes. Yes, it’s still a lot, but we’re talking about a lower-mid-range electric vehicle. Then the relatively long wheelbase with wheels at the corners of the body helps with directional stability. The Megane E-Tech takes corners very willingly and performs similarly in sudden changes of direction. It’s just a shame that the steering is completely neutral and noisy, with virtually no feedback whatsoever.
The electric Megane pleased us in perhaps all the important areas – it offers a sophisticated and cosy interior, delights with its supremely comfortable demeanour and its 160kW electric motor gives it above-average dynamics. In terms of “city” travel, this EV is a very personable car that’s nice and easy to drive, plus it’s comfortable and quiet. If you have the finances for an electric car and are looking around for an electric compact, definitely give the new Megane a try. The base model, in the Techno trim offered here, starts at €45,200 and the version with 22kW on-board charger starts at €48,200. In the tested Iconic trim and with extras, you can pay up to 52 050€ for a car equipped in this way…