Renault Megane E-TECH Electric review: an EV that ticks the boxes its rivals cannot

The new Renault Megane E-Tech Electric has ride and handling characteristics which have been largely lacking in a majority of the electrics we've tried
Renault Megane E-TECH Electric review: an EV that ticks the boxes its rivals cannot

The new Renault Megane E-Tech Electric





from €37,495 - €46,520 as tested


a decent electric with 220 bhp on offer


Renault claims a 450 km capability but

we managed just 350km

The Spec

pretty smart in ‘Techno’ spec as tested


Renault surpasses itself

The introduction of a new generation of electric cars has been a pretty rocky one really, especially given the amount of financial muscle put into the effort by the car industry. Something which everyone thought would be a doddle never turned out that way.

I mean, the evolution of electric motors is something we have been living through since electricity was discovered back in the 1700s by Ben Franklin and his ‘kite and key’ stunt in 1752 and was probably fortunate not to have ended up burnt to a crisp – something subsequent inventors and theorists were to discover to their cost.

Surely the development of the electric car as a species in our modern era cannot have taxed the great engineering minds that populate the motor industry today. And the fact that EVs have been with us since Charles Dickens was working in a boot-blacking factory, indisputably means that the development of these things should have been a piece of cake.

All you needed to do, it appeared, was to saunter down to your local hardware store, get an electric motor off the shelf and install it under the hood instead of your old petrol or diesel. Presto! You’re electrified. Simple, easy and a lot less complicated than having to spend millions developing internal combustion engines with years-long R and D timetables.

It hasn’t quite worked that way and getting EVs to drive and act like the old ICE models to which we had become accustomed turned out to be a little complicated. Early models made for modern consumers were plagued by many issues – not the least of which was getting them to go any further than your local hardware store.

A lot of those early problems have now been ironed out and more and more of the EVs we are seeing right now are providing the sort of driving characteristics we have long been used to thanks to the evils of fossil fuels. They will now actually go further than a Joey Carbery line kick and it no longer takes until next month to recharge them.

Renault Megane E-Tech Electric interior
Renault Megane E-Tech Electric interior

There’s been a few potholes along the way though and some of the major manufacturers have vanished into them. This week’s tester is one of the more promising electrics we’ve thus far come across and while it is far from perfect it indicates a huge potential as we move forward.

For now, however, the Renault Megane E-Tech Electric is at the sharp end of an increasingly cut-throat market segment, going nose-to-nose with such as the VW ID.3 (and its erstwhile stable-mate, the Cupra Born), as well as such as the Kia Niro EV, the forthcoming Opel Grandland, Peugeot’s e-2008 and the car which is perhaps the best of the lot thus far, the Skoda Enyaq.

There’s a couple of things which stand the Renault out from the pack: firstly, it has been given a lick of the performance brush which makes it a warm rather than hot beast and makes it a lot more attractive than some of the anodyne offerings we have been presented with.

Secondly, it is also blessed with ride and handling characteristics which have been largely lacking in a majority of the electrics we’ve tried – apart from the premium end of the marketplace.

Throw in the fact that Renault has come up with a singularly appealing design and a cabin which has had more thought put into it than a Mensa AGM.

We have said on many occasions that if many of the early-doors electrics we’ve tried are evidence of what to come from any given manufacturer, then it is a portent of much better to come. In the case of this Megane, Renault’s true electrification start point (forget the ZOE and all their other EV stuff heretofore) is way better than many rivals’ initial efforts and is nowhere near the ‘white goods’ car-as-washing-machine products some have presented us with.

This is a car that has been particularly well imagined and every aspect of it suggests that the starting blocks from which Renault is sprinting from will propel it much further than many bigger rivals. Indeed this car has left many of the efforts we have seen thus far looking embarrassingly tepid – and overpriced.

With a 60-kWh battery and the near 200 bhp it endows this Megane with, this is – as we’ve already averred – is not so much a hot hatch, but as pretty warm one nonetheless. The 0-100 km/h time is 7.5 seconds which not be of Tesla proportions, but something any regular GTi would be proud of and while the top speed is 160 km/h is not exactly in the Ferrari league, it is a lot better than many of its rivals.

The new Renault Megane E-Tech Electric
The new Renault Megane E-Tech Electric

Some of those electrics run out of steam at under 100 km/h which doesn’t make them appealing to enthusiasts or even people who think it’s okay to filter onto a motorway – or worse join a main road from a side road – and then take a couple of kilometres to get up to the same speed as everyone else.

No this thing accelerates right up to motorway speeds without hesitation or fuss and also provides you to take on overtaking manoeuvres you would not dare to chance in many others of this ilk.

Range is still something of an issue here – but only just. Renault claim a 450 km capability here, but if you drive it with the idea of making those overtakes safely or keeping up with everyone else on the motorway, you’ll find the reality to be nearer the 350 km mark.

That’s not bad, but it could do with a bit of improvement, undoubtedly. Given that Renault is all-in on electric in the forthcoming months and years (the new electric Renault 5 is expected to be a hoot), this will undoubtedly get better in short order. Charging times are good too and an overnight on a 7.4 kW wall-box will brim it.

Where the car truly stands apart from the crowd is the way it performs in the ride and handling departments. Renault has concentrated the mass of the battery pack very low down in the platform – making the centre of gravity nearly 100 mm lower than the previous Megane. This means corning is dynamic, sharp and accurate.

The chassis itself seems softly sprung but the dampers have been stiffened to the point where the body remains flat through fast sweepers and does not do the buck-lepping that some of this genre subject you to when presented with sharp altitude variations. In other words you won’t have to be scraped off the roof cloth when encountering a ‘yump.’ 

Throw in an interior which has been really well thought out (the gear selector is on the steering column to create added space in the centre console, which is bigger than most en suites) and the tray under the touchscreen will accommodate most smart phones and charge them too. The infotainment system is also very user-friendly and easily navigated.

Many readers will have had experience of past Renaults and their prejudices about build quality (or the absence of it) in times past is well justified – but there is no evidence of shoddiness in that department and everything seems well screwed together. And stuff like the unusual dashboard fabric (it’s made from recycled plastic bottles – very zeitgeisty) is nice, but we will see if it stands the test of time.

This is a very welcome addition to the electric market in that it is well-equipped, comfortable and well built. It is also fun to drive and it looks great too. That being the case it ticks more boxes than most of the contenders we’ve seen thus far and – guess what – it is a portent of good things to come.

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