Renault’s new Megane E-Tech electric car stands out from the crowd with gorgeous styling and is a real head-turner, writes Trish Whelan, stunning from every angle, especially in the Shadow Grey colour and black roof of my review car. Coupe-like with an extended wheelbase, high waistline, reduced overhangs, it has a powerful stance. The design includes full LED lighting, beautiful light signatures, and flush door handles that glide out as the keyholder approaches.
The cabin provides a roomy and obstacle-free environment, with a welcoming feel. The seats were in an attractive grey-black upholstery of synthetic leather and recycled materials. They were really comfy. Front ones can be heated and have lumbar adjustments.
The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display shows speed, driving range and maps. It combines with the 9-inch infotainment display angled towards the driver to deliver an excellent connected experience with access to Google Maps and Google Assistant. Google’s electric route planner suggests the best route, and lists charging points along the way. There are buttons for temperature and ventilation controls.
The central console includes a cubby below the dash for your bag or whatever, with removable dividers which is a neat feature. There are two C-type USB ports in front and a wireless charger shelf, a decent glovebox and generous door bins. The transmission selector is on a high stalk on the right hand side of the steering wheel. Access to the drive modes is via a button, choosing Comfort, Eco, Sport, or Personal.
Three adults could fit in the rear, perhaps at a squeeze with the smaller middle seat, but they would enjoy very good rear legroom thanks to the flat floor. Boot space is 440-1,332 litres. A false floor lifts to space for storing the charging cables and for your belongings.
Trim levels are Equilibre, Techno, and a range-topping Launch Edition. The entry level has 18-inch alloys, full LED headlights, hill start assist, heated steering wheel, rear view camera, smartphone connectivity and over-the-air software updates. My Techno version included really stylish 20-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, two rear ‘C’ USB, adaptive cruise control, blind spot recognition and intervention, rear cross traffic alert with rear automatic braking, front and rear sensors, and an around-view 3D camera system.
Battery options are a 40kWh (EV40) powering a 130hp motor and a 60kWh (EV60) with a 220hp motor. My car had the latter with a rated range of 450km, compared to 300km with the smaller one. However, when I collected it, the full charge registered just 260km range available. But driving in heavy traffic added more. Braking increases the estimated driving range — whenever it slows down, kinetic energy is converted into electricity. The battery recharges when you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal or press on the brake.
The new motor weighs 10pc less than that used in the Renault Zoe and the slim battery is 40pc smaller than in that car. Weight is evenly distributed because the battery is housed under the car’s whole floor plate which aids the centre of gravity.
Fast charging of the EV60 version can add up to 300km of driving range in just over 30 minutes. With the My Renault app, you can check your range at any time, start your charge remotely or schedule it at off-peak times.
There are up to 26 driver-assistance and safety-assistance systems as standard. They include automatic emergency braking with junction assist that can detect pedestrians and cyclists, emergency lane keeping assist with oncoming traffic and road-edge detection. Traffic sign recognition, hill start assist, distance warning alert and cruise control with speed limiter all help to make driving easier and safer.
Customers can use the Mobilize Charge Pass which allows access to charge points throughout Ireland, Europe and the UK without the need for multiple charging accounts. Their locations can be accessed via the OpenR Link or the My Renault app.
This is a really lovely car to drive with high feel-good factor, and very good acceleration. There's nice feedback from the steering. It is also very easy to park. I was able to get a very comfortable driving position behind the wheel and enjoyed good all-round visibility. But a word of caution — although it suited me perfectly with my smaller height, a very tall person will have to duck down low to get into the car due to the space between the roof of the car and the seat.
New Megane E-Tech EV carries a 5-year warranty.
PRICES: start at €37,495 (EV40) and €41,995 (EV60).