Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2021) review: big ambitions

Published:09 November 2021

Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2021) review: big ambitions
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

► New Megane goes all-electric
► Sharp looks, great interior
► But is it really an electric hot hatch?

This is the Megane E-Tech Electric, Renault’s second-generation pure electric car following on from the aged-but-perennially-updated Zoe. The Megane Electric is a zero emissions midsize hatch which comes to the UK in autumn 2022, having been rushed through development by Renault CEO Luca de Meo, appointed just over a year ago.

De Meo clearly enjoys needling his former employee Volkswagen Group. His engineers have carte blanche to boast of the Megane’s (claimed) 100kg+ weight advantage over its VW ID.3 rival. And the boss calls the first Renault on his watch the GTI of EVs.

An electric hot hatch? Sounds appealing…

Absolutely. It’s a mighty appealing prospect to assess over a couple of hours in the countryside bordering Paris, too. We start in Comfort mode, navigating stretches of dual carriageway interrupted with roundabouts. GTI exhibit A: the steering has a low 12:1 ratio, and it’s responsive off the straight-ahead, if a little light and numb-feeling. 

A 160kW (215bhp) electric motor spins the front axle, fed in this top spec S Edition by a 60kWh battery between the 20inch wheels. That gives an official range of 292 miles; the 40kWh pack is good for 186 miles. This EV40 model gets a lower power motor producing 96kW (129bhp).

Renault says the e-motor and clutch combined only weigh 145kg. It’s all part of a forensic programme to minimise weight on this new, dedicated electric vehicle platform, CMF-EV, which also underpins the Nissan Ariya. For more tech details of the Megane E-Tech Electric click here.

megane electric side pan

Be measured with the accelerator and progress is steady: it doesn’t fly like a GTI. That said, through corners, it’s flatter than a fly that hits your windscreen at 70. There’s substance to Renault’s claim that the centre of gravity is 90mm lower than the existing petrol Megane’s. The thin, 110mm battery pack helps with that, integral to the CMF-EV underpinnings.

Quick enough – how’s the handling?

Standout feature is the ride quality. Potholes, hurtling over expansion joints, high frequency bumps, the Megane Electric just ebbs and flows over the topography. It’s suavely comfortable, but still taut enough for good body control. Now that sounds very GTI.

Time to engage Sport via the drive mode button on the misshapen steering wheel, which reminiscent of Bane’s facemask. The throttle becomes super-responsive, with punchy acceleration capable of rocking your head back and making the 7.4sec 0-62mph time seem utterly plausible.

megane electric rear tracking

The steering has much more heft and reassurance too. I tend not to bother much with Drive modes whose differences are barely discernible, but I’d lock the Megane Electric in Sport and throw away the key.

Unfortunately the four grades of regenerative braking aren’t so distinctive. I know this is a matter of taste, but I’d prefer a greater breadth of intensity, with the max setting truly throwing weight forward as you lift to help pivot the car into corners. Something for an Over The Air update, Renault? Operating them is crystal clear however: a yank on the left steering paddle to boost braking, on the right to reduce. The brake pedal sometimes act like an inconsistent parent: too soft, then too hard.

Efficiency and all the charging options

We averaged 3 miles per kWh driving enthusiastically on a mix of urban and rural French roads and autoroutes: that bodes well for it having an efficiency edge on its German rivals. 

Customers will be able to option different types of in-car charger systems, ranging from the base 7kW AC ‘standard charge’ to fast, DC public charging, at 85kW for the smaller 40kWh battery and 130kW for the bigger battery pack. 

The Mégane Electric EV60 can draw around 124 miles of range in 30 minutes on a 130kW DC charger. Eight hours of charging on a typical 7.4kW home charger will bestow around 248 miles of range. 

It certainly looks wild…

It’s a handsome car, the Megane Electric. Don’t be fooled by the crossover design cues which owe royalties to a certain Gerry McGovern: the car stands a scant 50mm taller than the combustion Megane, is a little shorter and has regular ground clearance.

megane electric front static

And this hatchback has lots of space inside: there’s sufficient legroom in the rear and a flat floor thanks to the bespoke battery underpinnings. But the glasshouse is set very high, which will displease claustrophobic adults and most small children, and the driver’s view through the rear screen is letterboxsized. 

The cockpit is trimmed nicely, with quality to banish some shonky Renault prejudices (aside from the naff ON button and hollow stalks). The disguised rear door handles have a lovely action, the curved dashtop is trimmed in parquet flooring (mice-sized), and the driver’s digital display and touchscreen are glossy and colourful.

The boot is vast – it stows 440 litres of stuff – but it’s awkwardly deep: hopefully Renault is planning a two-stage floor not ready for this prototype drive.

megane electric interior

Google powers the infotainment and there’s fun to be had asking the assistant questions, though she steadfastly ignores requests to cancel nav waypoints or turn up the heating. There are still physical buttons for that.

Renault Megane E-Tech Electric: verdict

Modern through and through then. Just what you’d expect from an entire reinvention of a car we’ve known for decades, and will for a while yet: the existing petrol and hybrid Meganes will continue to be sold until 2024.

The Megane Electric is smooth-riding, sharp-looking, efficient-running and its interior is up there with the best in class. Pretty engaging to drive too, if not quite the electric GTI Renault’s promising. How about a Renault Sport version, Luca?

Specs

Price when new: £31,000
On sale in the UK: Autumn 2022
Engine: 60kWh battery, 215bhp, 221lb ft
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Performance: 7.4sec 0-62mph, 99mph, 4.7 miles per kWh (official), 3.0 miles per kWh (tested), 292-mile range
Weight / material: 1624kg
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):

Photo Gallery

  • Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2021) review: big ambitions
  • Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2021) review: big ambitions
  • Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2021) review: big ambitions
  • Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2021) review: big ambitions
  • Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2021) review: big ambitions
  • Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2021) review: big ambitions
  • Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2021) review: big ambitions
  • Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2021) review: big ambitions
  • Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2021) review: big ambitions

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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