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Newly launched Megane E-Tech is an interesting alternative to more mainstream EVs

16 Feb 2024



RENAULT’S first passenger EV has arrived in Australia in the competitive $60K price range fast populated by similar EVs such as the Kia Niro, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Peugeot e-2008, Polestar 2 and Volvo EX30.


The new Renault Megane E-Tech rides on the new CMF-EV Alliance platform and this is the first model to arrive in Australia wearing Renault’s re-designed diamond corporate logo.


It has a 160kW/300Nm motor driving the front wheels only, powered by a 60kWh battery pack affording a 454km WLTP driving range. AC charging at home on a standard plug takes up to nine hours, while DC charging can be accommodated up to 130kW, recharging a 300km range in 30 minutes.


Claimed efficiency is 15.6kWh per 100km, while performance is claimed at 7.4 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint.


Typically, EVs are heavier than ICE vehicles with the battery pack and motor adding to the weight. Renault claims several weight-saving features were specifically employed in an attempt to reduce the Megane’s avoirdupois.


The body is all aluminium, while according to Renault, the battery pack, at 400kg, is lighter than most. The motor is 145kg, again lighter than usual, Renault claims, and uses copper coils rather than rare earth material such as magnets. Tare weight is 1642kg, payload is 450kg, while the Megane E-Tech can tow up to 900kg (braked) with 75kg of that on the towball.


The ability to recycle materials was also key during Megane development, with the result being more than 90 per cent of the car is recyclable. Zero waste from constructing the body was achieved by remodeled or reshaped left-over aluminium material for use in other vehicles.


More than 28kg or recycled plastic and fabric materials are used in dashboard, seats, centre console, headrests and floor mats.


Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) included are automatic emergency braking with junction assist and with pedestrian and cyclist detection, emergency lane keeping assist with oncoming traffic and road-edge detection as well as traffic sign recognition, hill start assist, driver drowsiness alert, distance warning alert and rear cross traffic alert with rear automatic braking.


A reversing camera is also standard, as is full adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beam. Dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting (curtain) airbags, as well as a centre airbag are standard. The Megane E-Tech was given a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2022.


Renault claims it has introduced some safety measures to enable first responders to better deal with a crash or fire. A special access point permits water to be introduced to the centre of the cars battery, allowing it to be extinguished in less than 10 minutes and a QR code on front and rear screens allows first responders to access to the vehicles technical information (such as the engine and battery location).


The Megane E-Tech arrives here in one specification, the Techno 60kWh.


Renault Australia managing Director Glen Sealy said that the company would review that after a year or so, opening the possibility of a broader model range to come. A 40kWh model with 96kW/250Nm is available in other markets.


Meanwhile the Australian spec car’s infotainment system uses a high-resolution 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster combined with the 9.0-inch OpenR infotainment display. Wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring is standard, as are two front and two rear USB-C ports.


A dual interior mirror can be activated to reflect as normal or to show a camera feed. An Arkamys auditorium audio system with six speakers and four sound ambiences is also standard.


Convenience features highlights include proximity unlocking, electric lumbar adjustment for driver, 48-colour interior ambient lighting and adaptive cruise control. Wheels are 20-inch ‘Soren’ diamond-cut alloys on 215/45 series tyres.


Exterior colours include Rafale Grey, Shadow Grey, Solid White, Diamond Black, Flame Red, and Night Blue –with the option of a contrasting roof colour in either Diamond Black or Shadow Grey, depending on the body colour chosen. Metallic paint costs $400 extra; dual-tone metallic is another $800.


Drive Impressions


The Megane E-Tech has plenty of nice detail such as the pop-out front door handles and distinctive front DRLs. Sitting on its large 20-inch alloys it first looks much bigger than it actually is.


This is a fairly compact SUV, at 4200mm long, 1768mm wide and 1500mm tall.


Getting in and getting going is simple with the keyless entry and start, and a gear lever wand on the right side of the steering column like you’d find on Kona Electric and countless other EVs. In the Renault, this column real estate is shared with a wiper stalk and audio controls, making it quite busy in that area.


The woven fabric on the dash and seats is quite similar to the Polestar 2. Front seats are supportive, there is lots of room for keys and phone and just about anything else you’d like to place in the centre console. The key fob recess in the centre console (with a key icon stamped into it, to give you a hint) is shallow. If you like spirited driving, be prepared to look for the key fob on the floor later.


The controls including the infotainment system offers no surprises, with hard buttons for HVAC at the bottom of the centre screen. Menus are quite simple, but the distraction that any of these touchscreens presents is no different here. The dash LCD screen is not as busy as some, and the various drive modes (from Eco to Sport) are changed without fuss with a dedicated steering wheel button.


Vision out of the Renault is good, with the rear and rear quarters presenting large blind spots.


Rear seat room is good for adult-size knees, but there is nowhere to stick your toes under the front seats. The rear seat is quite flat, which will better suit child seats or capsule fitment, but might get a bit uncomfortable for a long drive here for grown-ups.


There is no centre armrest or cupholders, but a twin air vent outlet is present at the back of the centre console. All door pockets are lined front and rear, but they aren’t especially big.


The boot has a 440-litre capacity, with the AC charging cable sitting underneath the floor. The boot is quite recessed, making lifting heavy items out more difficult. The rear 60:40 split rear seat folds, but as the lower cushion sits quite proud of the boot floor, it doesn’t present a flat loading floor when folded.


The Megane E-Tech drives well, with quick, direct steering, flat cornering stance and a firm but not jarring ride. Patchy road surfaces are absorbed without harshness or lateral movement, and road and tyre noise are well suppressed.


Performance is good, with that linear torque electric motors deliver so well, and adjustable regen braking giving the option of effectively one-pedal driving (although we did not test this in stop-start traffic).


Roads were wet during the launch drive, so wheel spin under assertive, about half-throttle acceleration occasionally occurred, even when in Comfort mode. If you need to get up to speed quickly, the Megane E-Tech complies quickly, albeit with a distinct rise of the front end.


In short, this is a responsive EV that performs without any nasty surprises, but we suspect the tyres were chosen for their lower rolling resistance than outright grip. That said, we’ve driven on far worse...


Energy consumption was 14.9kWh/100km on the drive loop. The Megane E-Tech also records an economy score for the trip and here the score achieved was 44/100.


I must do better next time.


The Megane E-Tech appears to be an interesting alternative to more mainstream EVs, and has the performance, range, and dynamic ability to make it competitive. Some compromises in the cabin in terms of storage and some busy controls are the only clear downsides.

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