Renault has unveiled an all-new, pure-electric model, the Megane E-Tech Electric, which will sit alongside its standard Megane model in the C-segment. It joins other electric Renaults like the Zoe and the Kangoo and Master E-Tech Electric vans.
Megane saloon, hatch or crossover?
The Megane E-Tech Electric is taller than a conventional hatch like the current Megane or Volkswagen Golf, though perhaps not quite tall enough to be called a crossover. That's because of the batteries mounted under the floor, which raise the overall height. If it's neither saloon nor hatchback nor crossover, what does that leave? The Megane E-Tech Electric appears to fall into that new breed of EVs like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 that almost defy categorisation.
French visual flair
The front end incorporates Renault's redesigned badge and the LED lighting set-up creates a new signature look. In a neat visual trick, the sharp, narrow headlights appear to run the width of the front, while the daytime running lamps extend down in a curving swoosh towards the front bumper blades, which can be optioned in a contrasting colour to the body.
Moving back along the body, the E-Tech leans into its possible crossover designation, sitting on 20-inch wheels - though 18-inch rims are fitted to lower-spec models. Flush door handles will be standard.
When optioned in a colour contrasting with the body, the roof, pillars and mirrors give a floating-roofline effect. Complementing that, a chrome strip running along the side of the roofline meets the body towards the rear giving the visual impression of a very narrow C-pillar.
Similarly to the front, the taillights are narrow and seem to stretch the width of the boot lid. The effect is achieved by using micro fibre-optic cables, and one of the rather neat features of this is that the brake lights are displayed in two lines like the "pause" symbol on a phone.
According to Renault, the E-Tech puts on a little light show of flashing and blinking lights when it detects someone approaching the car with its key card from a metre away. Functional? Not really, but it's a fun little touch.
There's about as much space inside the new EV as a standard Megane with 440 litres of boot space. The rear seats can be folded all the way down, or in a 60:40 fashion for carrying awkward loads.
Screens are the big feature here with the horizontal 12.3-inch instrument panel meeting the vertical 12-inch infotainment screen to create an L shape. It comes with 4K definition, meaning that the visuals should be pin-sharp.
Depending on spec levels, the interior features a combination of materials like Alcantara, recycled plastics and wood, with faux-leather available on the higher-end models.
Mood lighting, extensive soundproofing, cupholders aplenty, sockets and USB-C ports offer further touches to improve comfort and the interior experience.
Under the skin of the new Megane
The Megane E-Tech Electric is one of the first cars based on the new CMF-EV platform, jointly developed by partners Renault and Nissan and which will underpin the next Nissan Leaf.
Two powertrain options will be available - a 130hp or a 218hp electric motor - the most powerful of which can record a 0-100km/h time of 7.4 seconds.
Battery-wise, the E-Tech can be fitted with a 40kWh module promising 300km of range (on the WLTP cycle), or a 60kWh unit delivering up to 470km. The batteries come with an eight-year warranty and Renault will replace them free of charge if they degrade to less than 70 per cent capacity within that time.
The E-Tech will be compatible with all AC charging infrastructure and all DC chargers up to 130kW. At that maximum rate, 200km of motorway driving can be recovered with a 30-minute charge, according to Renault. Drivers will apparently get an extra 300km from a 30-minute charge with mixed driving.
Renault has recently launched a new brand in partnership with China's Jiangling Motors called Mobilize that seeks to develop greater expertise in battery management. One of the carry-overs to the Megane E-Tech from its work with Mobilize has been the refinement of Vehicle-to-Grid technology meaning that the E-Tech can feed power back into the grid when needed and where possible.
Renault's OpenR Link multimedia system is powered by the Android Automotive operating system, meaning that occupants have access to Google products like Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play catalogue. The interface can be rearranged like a tablet or smartphone.
Similarly to such devices, the system receives updates over the air.
The E-Tech's multimedia system is, of course, compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Active Driver Assist provides the E-Tech with Level 2 autonomy, meaning that it's capable of taking some of the load off drivers, particularly on motorways. It combines an adaptive cruise control system with Lane Keeping Assist and Stop & Go technology.
It uses a system of cameras, radar and map geolocation meaning that, in addition to keeping the car between the lines and moving in stop-start traffic, it's capable of decelerating and accelerating when approaching and leaving roundabouts, for instance.
For tighter, urban driving, there are features like Rear Automatic Emergency Braking, meaning that if a driver is reversing and fails to see, say, a pedestrian in their path, the car will brake automatically. Occupant Safe Exit provides a warning to stop passengers opening their doors into approaching traffic. Full Auto Park basically means that the car can park itself without any input from the driver beyond operating the accelerator to instruct the car as to whether they want the manoeuvre to continue.
One of the concerns we've seen raised lately is the difficulty that fire brigades experience putting out EV fires. Renault has sought to address this with a switch under the rear seat to disconnect the battery from the car's high-voltage circuit. Additionally, a special "Fireman Access" hatch will allow firefighters to douse a blazing car in around five minutes as opposed to the three hours it can often take.
Buying a new electric Megane in Ireland
Pre-orders for the Megane E-Tech Electric will open in February 2022 with the model going on sale in Ireland in March.
There's no word on pricing yet, but based on the price of the similarly-sized Renault Kadjar and adding an EV premium, we expect something north of €35,000.