TEST: Renault Megane E-Tech Electric – The French Connection

Premium Renault Megane wants to win over customers in both the compact and crossover classes with electric drive and sharp design. But how good is the car under its delicious exterior? We are testing the top version.

For a long time, Renault has handled the electric drivers like BMW did with their customers in the 50s. Then the Germans built the Isetta and the 600 series, but apart from these – absolutely nothing.

A bit like Renault today, at least when it comes to electric cars. Sure, you have the Zoe, Twingo Electric and Twizy in the program, but the latter also makes the Opel Rocks-e appear like a real car. In addition to the small cars, however, there is another electric model on the program: Master E-Tech, a gigantic transport vehicle.

In between? Nothing, nada, nix, a complete vacuum. Of course, they know that and therefore present the Megane E-Tech Electric, a compact SUV that is only 151 cm high and 16 cm shorter than its namesake, the Megane with a combustion engine.

The car’s appearance is sporty and crossover-like with high shoulders and small windows that taper to the rear, as well as large 20-inch rims included in the top version. If you see the car from the rear, you are almost amazed at how the design team has managed to squeeze the microscopic rear window under the coupé-like roof. In other words, the all-round view has not been a very high priority.

The driver’s seat is comfortably accessed through a wide, wide-opening door, but the handle on the inside is located so far back that it requires stretching to close it.

The screens are high resolution and below the central screen there is a mobile cup for inductive charging.

Because rearward visibility is severely limited it definitely pays to invest in the Augmented Vision package for SEK 15,000. This includes rear autobrake, blind spot warning with steering grip, automatic parking, a 360-degree camera and digital rearview mirror.

The latter is particularly effective when the rear seat is occupied by adults or when the luggage compartment has been loaded up to the roof, and provides a very clear image to the rear from the perspective of the reversing camera.

However, we prefer to look ahead and quickly notice how supple the suspension is. Adaptive dampers are certainly not available, but for high comfort they are still not necessary. At lower speeds, the front-wheel-drive car is somewhat unsmooth over larger bumps and cross joints. At higher speeds, however, it feels significantly “fluffier”, a feeling that is reinforced by the low noise level in the cabin.

Renault has worked very hard on the sound insulation and it shows – even at motorway speeds, the wind noise is pleasantly low and you can hardly hear any whine from the engine.

20-inch rims and a black roof dress the Megane E-Tech Electric, which looks longer than it really is (4.20 m).

That the Megane drives only the front wheels however, they have not succeeded in camouflaging very well. During hard acceleration, the direct but somewhat light steering jerks noticeably and if the front wheels are even the slightest bit crooked, the electronics have to intervene early. Having said that, however, we must note that there are actually weaker electric cars that suffer from worse power response issues than the Megane E-Tech.

Despite the narrow tires and the somewhat silent steering, you can actually have a lot of fun in the driver’s seat, especially when most customers are just as interested in the car’s border area as in the current diesel price.

The test is completed with the top motorization with 220 hp which is fed by a battery with a capacity of 60 kWh. If you want to get away a little cheaper, you choose the entry-level version with 130 hp and a 40 kWh battery, which, however, can only be charged single-phase (read: slowly) with alternating current.

There is no wife. Instead, the liquid-cooled electric motor resides under the front hood.

As expected, acceleration is nimble, after 7.8 seconds you pass 100 km/h and sprint on to a maximum of 160 km/h. With a heavy right foot, however, you can expect a range of less than 20 miles. Test consumption was measured at a high 24.2 kWh/100 km, which means a range of 272 km, a long way from the promised 450.

Fortunately, the navigation system informs about ideal charging points along the route where the system also takes the payment method into account. The battery is charged there with a maximum of 130 kW, but the power drops drastically after just a couple of minutes (see separate box).

With a length of 4.20 meters, the Megane E-Tech is not a large car. The luggage compartment, however, holds 440 liters of packing, but unfortunately has a high load threshold. On the other hand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the load weight: 386 kg is certainly nothing to raise eyebrows about, but still perfectly fine.

The rear door handles are well camouflaged, the front ones slide out when approached.

Considering the car’s compact format, the rear seat offers relatively ample space, but slightly longer seat cushions would not have hurt.

The same applies to the back seat. The car’s coupe-like roofline reduces the cabin height noticeably and ordinary shoes cannot fit under the front seats. On the other hand, the electric Megane offers more legroom than its 16 cm longer namesake and the front seats are generous and airy despite the car’s compact exterior dimensions.

However, the chairs (and our legs) would have felt better with a little better thigh support. This could have been easily solved by equipping the chairs with tiltable seat cushions, but there was no such thing in our test car. The backrests could also have provided a little more lateral support.

However, the rest of the car gives a better impression. There are even a few physical buttons left here that, among other things, control the somewhat too attentive lane keeping assistant. The automatic climate control is also graced with its very own row of buttons that is well placed in a stylish decorative strip.

The car’s digital rearview mirror makes life enormously easier…

…but the steering wheel levers for the gear selector and the windscreen wipers are a bit close to each other.

In winter, the air conditioning system receives much-needed support of a heat pump included in cars for the Swedish market, regardless of design. Nice!

The car’s digital instrumentation does not dazzle you with plotty and overdesigned graphics, but displays useful information clearly and clearly. The upright central screen (12 inches, the entry-level model has 9 inches) is powered by an operating system developed together with Google. This means large, clear touch surfaces, quick reactions and attentive voice control.

The Megane E-Tech Electric also has a large arsenal of comfort and safety-enhancing assistance systems as well as predominantly pleasant and partly recycled materials that hardly make the successful overall impression worse.

“Some are really ugly, like EQS and Model Y”

The electric cars vary incredibly a lot in terms of design. Some are really ugly, like the EQS and Model Y. Others are instead very beautiful, like the Tesla Model S. The Megane is a handsome car. However, it has gone beyond the rear view which is worse than barely without the digital rear view mirror. But don’t think about it, the screen-based solution works well.

We return to the design. Will all (electric) cars become ugly in the end? Low drag is the likely culprit in the drama. Even batteries in the floor that force the car manufacturers to make the models higher put sticks in the wheels. The proportions get wrong when nothing but efficiency is taken into account. The Cupra Born and the Volkswagen ID.3 are two other examples of that. While neither of the two are downright ugly, the short overhangs make for a less-than-satisfying exterior.

Will all automakers give way and sacrifice all that good design means to maximize range? You probably don’t need to worry quite yet. The biggest threat is also the suvars’ offensive. Surely you miss sleek coupes? Instead, we get thick, high-built lumps that are sometimes served with extra steep roofs to mimic the really nice cars.


EMPTY PROMISES?

In terms of range, the Megane misses the manufacturer’s figures noticeably and the charging is also not quite as promised.

Renault’s official data of 16.1 kWh/100 km according to the WLTP cycle misses our test car even on the eco-round, which is driven with an extremely light right foot. Here, the car instead consumed 19.2 kWh. If you drive sporty, the specified consumption almost doubles, and in total the Megane indulges in no less than 24.2 kWh/100 km. It adds up to a range of 272 km, thus far from the promised 450.

If you charge the car at one of the fast chargers recommended by the navigation system, the battery’s temperature is adjusted for optimal conditions. The power peak for a 150 kW charger is 125 kW, which however drops noticeably after just a few minutes. Without temperature adaptation, the car rarely reaches an output of 80 kW, which considerably extends the charging time.


Source: Senaste nytt från auto motor & sport by www.mestmotor.se.

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