What are you driving?
This is the Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-Tech, a plug-in hybrid estate version of the French brand's C-segment car. The E-Tech brand is an umbrella name for all of Renault's electrified models. We've already tested the hybrid Clio E-Tech, but the Megane gets a more advanced plug-in hybrid setup. With a modestly sized 9.8kWh battery nestled in the car's rear, the Megane can cover as much as 50 kilometres using only electric power. A 1.6-litre petrol engine supplements that, so you need never worry about battery range.
Renault offers this version of the Megane in two specification grades, Iconic and R.S. Line, with a €2,000 price walk between these two models. It's the former that we're reviewing here, and it features a more subtle styling treatment around the front and rear bumpers and rides on 16-inch alloy wheels. Among the standard equipment are a 10-inch TFT instrument display, part-leather upholstery and a seven-inch touchscreen.
Spending the extra on the R.S. Line gets you a sportier exterior design with 17-inch wheels. The interior also gets a lift with model-specific upholstery, featuring red striping through the seats and the gear selector. This version also gets the larger touchscreen - optionally fitted to our test car - which looks more impressive.
Name its best bits
It probably won't be much of a surprise if we name the powertrain as the Renault's best feature. Having an electric motor on hand to take up some of the driving does make for a quieter and smoother drive. That electric motor's 205Nm torque output means that the Renault has plenty of performance when navigating through the urban environment and that immediate delivery is preferable to using the combustion engine.
The official 50-kilometre electric-only range with a full battery is a touch optimistic in typical everyday driving, but a figure above 40 kilometres is easily doable, especially in mixed or urban driving. Renault quotes a 'WLTP City' figure of up to 65 kilometres on battery power. In pure electric mode over one trip that included a portion of motorway driving, the Renault's trip computer indicated an average electrical consumption of 18.1kWh/100km.
The benefit of its plug-in hybrid powertrain depends on the type of daily driving you do. But if you're generally taking relatively short journeys (and providing you can charge at home or work), then you can reap the rewards of plug-in ownership. Charging the battery at home will take around three hours to complete using a 3.6kW wallbox, with that time stretching out to four hours 30 minutes using a 2.3kW 'granny cable' charger plugged into a three-pin domestic socket. As the Renault is only fitted with a 3.6kW onboard charger, that time doesn't get any shorter when using public charge points.
The added practicality of the estate body is a further bonus, although this type of car is something of a niche choice in Ireland. Larger (read taller) crossovers and SUVs are deemed to be of greater use, though this Megane Sport Tourer, with its 447-litre boot, has more luggage space than the Renault Captur and Kadjar. That's even taking into account that, due to the position of the plug-in hybrid battery, this is the smallest capacity of the Megane Sport Tourer range, as the diesels hold 504 litres and the petrol models can carry up to 563 litres. The Megane Sport Tourer E-Tech can be fitted with a towbar, but at 750kg for a braked trailer and 528kg for unbraked, it is the lowest of the Megane offering.
Anything that bugs you?
There aren't any major things to find fault with in the Megane E-Tech, but like other models in the range, Renault perseveres with its use of a chunky key card rather than a conventional key. It does have a keyless entry and start function, which is useful, but it's a bulky thing to carry around that doesn't really fit on a key chain properly; nor is it slender like a credit card to fit into a purse or wallet. I know it might sound like a minor inconvenience, and in the grand scheme of things, it is, but please give people a regular key, Renault.
And why have you given it this rating?
As an overall package, the Renault Megane E-Tech ticks many boxes, from the practical to the economical. The two specification grades available are aesthetically different enough, with neither version leaving buyers wanting. As with almost all current plug-in hybrids, how you use and charge it will have a tremendous impact on the results it will deliver. In the right circumstances, though, the Megane Sport Tourer E-Tech can be a very frugal car without scrimping on performance.