Megane, that French family favourite from La Régie since 1996, has bowed to the inevitable and gone electric. Bonjour to the new Renault Megane E-Tech, unveiled this week at the Munich Motor Show.
Regular combustion and hybrid Meganes will be continuing for a while yet, but expect the version you see here to join the line-up next year for those eager to take the battery route. And, with the Megane E-Tech, there appears increasingly little reason not to – even for higher-miles drivers.
Choose the more powerful of two battery options available and you will be able to travel up to 292 miles (as measured by the WLTP protocol). Moreover, choose the gutsier of the two charging options and you can top up with 186 miles (or 124 miles at motorway speeds) of extra range in 30 minutes. As Renault says, that’s London to Newcastle with a single half-hour break.
Other reasons for waiting for an electrified Megane? A likely entry price below £30k so it is eligible for the government’s £2,500 electric car grant. And as much room inside as the current Megane, but in a smaller car with a completely flat floor.
Then there’s the chunky, high-waisted look that gives this five-door hatch a soupçon of SUV appeal while remaining compact. At 4,210mm it’s quite a bit shorter than the Megane we know today, though with a 30mm longer wheelbase provides what’s claimed to be the same interior space.
That’s thanks to being underpinned by something called the CMF-EV, a dedicated electric-car platform that has already given us the Nissan Ariya. This is the first time the French have based a car on the new platform – and while it might be the first of Renault’s new-generation of electric vehicles under its “Renaulution” plan, it definitely won’t be the last.
One of the clever things about the Megane E-Tech is its batteries: they might weigh 395kg but they are 110mm thin, 40 per cent smaller than the batteries in the Renault Zoe. Tailor-made for the CMF-EV architecture, they are spread like sandwich filling under the floor. Thinner batteries mean they sit lower in the chassis which means a lower centre of gravity (90mm lower than the combustion Megane, says Renault) which means more of the skateboard-style agility that electric cars are quickly becoming known for.
Like the batteries and charging options, there’s a choice of power for the single front-mounted motor, which in either case drives the front wheels.
You can have either 130PS (96kW) and 250Nm (185lb ft) – which sounds to us really slow in a car that will weigh around 1,600kg – or 218PS (160kW) with 300Nm (222lb ft). That version will be less slow but its 0-62mph is still 7.4 seconds. This is a family hatch, not a performance machine, and alas there’s no RenaultSport version… yet.
It looks good, though, with its swirly light graphics, roof and pillars in contrasting colours and options for distinctive contrasting inserts in the front apron. Its form was previewed by last year’s Megane eVision show car which itself drew inspiration from the Morphoz concept from 2019.
Quite a lot has been lost in the translation from the more SUV-like Morphoz, although Renault is adamant the electric Megane remains a disruptive design for the class. It’s not a huge car but it still sits on 20-inch wheels in its best form (as shown) while its character is further beefed up by SUV cues such as protective strips on the lower body and wheel arches, as well as that high beltline.
Inside it’s all wide screen, touch control and cloud-connected, in the most sustainable way possible, of course. Renault reckons it will offer a class-leading digital experience thanks to (in the top models) a 12.3-inch dashboard display and 12-inch multimedia display powered by the Android Automotive operating system with integrated Google services.
If you like Google you will love this car: Google Assistant, Google Play and Google Maps are all integrated, the last of these including an ‘Electric Route Planner’ that plots your course between charging stations. Nothing worse than getting caught short on that London to Newcastle journey…
The Megane E-Tech also promises to please a whole new generation of families thanks to that Renault speciality: the cubbyhole. Among the assorted 30 litres of places to store things is a 7-litre storage compartment between the front seats. The boot offers 440 litres and space can be increased by folding down the 60:30 split rear backrests as well as folding flat the front passenger seat.
Practical then, as well as pretty funky, highly connected, roomy, safe (26 driver assistance systems are to be offered) and with the promise of decent ride and handling. Very French then and very new-generation and as such worthy of the revamped Renault logo on its snout.
With the Zoe, Renault already claims the number one electric car slot in Europe – and with the first battery-powered Megane intends to keep it.