Renault Megane E-Tech Electric SUV review
“The Renault Megane is now an electric crossover and first impressions are good”
- Great interior
- Sporty and comfortable
- Tight rear space
- No one-pedal driving
- May be expensive
As a petrol or diesel-powered family hatchback, the Renault Megane never sold as well as the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf. For the new model, Renault has completely changed the formula; the Megane is now a trendy SUV powered exclusively by electric motors, so competes with the Volkswagen ID.3 and Nissan Leaf, as well as the Citroen e-C4, Peugeot e-2008 and Kia e-Niro.
The Renault Megane E-Tech Electric has the same focus on style as previous generations of Megane. Slim LED headlights and a sculpted bonnet give the front end a distinctive look, while there’s a near-full-width light bar at the rear, flush door handles, gold detailing and a sloping roof. While it looks striking, the angle of the contrasting roof means the rear window is very narrow.
Inside is just as eye-catching, with two 12-inch displays, but more traditional and user-friendly than a Volkswagen ID.3. The portrait infotainment screen runs a new Google-powered system with an excellent voice control system, while physical buttons and dials for the climate control have been retained. There are a few hard plastics here and there but overall the interior feels more upmarket than Renaults of old, and lower trim levels feature a lot of recycled materials.
The news isn’t so great if you’re destined to sit in one of the back seats, however. While the new Megane is a little more spacious than the old one, it doesn’t give the same feeling of space that we’ve come accustomed to in electric cars. The Megane’s arch rival, the ID.3, feels roomier for those in the rear seats. More impressive is the 440-litre boot, even if the lack of a false floor means loading heavy items can be tricky.
Prices and specifications have yet to be revealed but, with the Volkswagen so clearly benchmarked, we’d expect that prices will be similar. Given that the outgoing Megane hatchback is now only available as a plug-in hybrid that starts from nearly £30,000, the new electric Megane may look like good value.
Range, charging & running costs
Renault has focused on making the new Megane as light as possible, with lots of aluminium used in its construction. While the battery ensures the car is no featherweight, the 1,624kg kerb weight of our test car is nearly 200kg less than an equivalent ID.3, which improves efficiency. Renault is aiming for accurate range figures rather than impressive but unrealistic ones.
Two battery sizes are available: 40kWh and 60kWh. These offer up to 186 and 292 miles on a full charge respectively. Fast-charging at up to 130kW means a top-up from 10-80% can be achieved in half an hour. Depending on your electricity tariff, a full charge at home should cost less than £10. There’s no VED (road tax) to pay and company-car drivers will pay a minimal rate of Benefit-in-Kind tax.
The Renault Megane E-Tech Electric SUV gets a five-year/100,000-mile warranty with no mileage constraints in the first two years. That’s more generous than the ID.3’s aftersales cover. We’d also expect an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty like the one you get with the Renault ZOE, which covers you if the battery capacity drops below 70% in those limits.
Electric motor, drive & performance
Renault’s boss said the Megane felt like an electric hot hatch when he drove it. While we wouldn’t go quite that far, the new Megane is thoroughly decent to drive. The late-stage pre-production model we drove was very quick off the line and offered rapid acceleration at any speed. The electric motor produces 217bhp and offers a 0-62mph time of under 7.5 seconds - and it feels quicker than that.
Because the Megane E-Tech is quite light for an electric car and because most of the weight is low within the car, there’s almost no body roll whatsoever. Its steering is pleasingly quick, if short of feel, and the rear suspension keeps the ride comfortable. Flicking between Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual driving modes changes how the car feels, and you can choose what level of brake regeneration you want, but you can’t drive it just with one pedal as you can in an ID.3 or a Leaf.
Interior & comfort
Open the door with the pop-out door handle and you’re greeted by a state-of-the-art interior. As is common these days, there are two screens for the driver’s display and media/ navigation functions but the latter is portrait-oriented just like a phone. With it being slightly angled towards the driver, it feels like you’re in the cockpit of a sports car. Renault is also claiming that the materials used in lower-spec versions are recycled, while our top-spec test car had wooden trim across the door panels and synthetic leather upholstery.
The infotainment touchscreen uses a new Google-powered system, so you’ll navigate through Google Maps and can say commands with ‘Hey Google’. The mapping app includes nearby public chargers, while the voice control system is the best we’ve come across, letting you change the temperature and find out the weather forecast just by asking. Apple CarPlay is standard too. A digital rear-view mirror is also available to overcome the poor visibility from the shallow rear window.
It’s tempting these days to pack all controls into the touchscreen but Renault has kept physical climate controls that are easier to use when driving. This, and the materials used, help to make the Megane feel more upmarket inside than the ID.3. There are some cheaper materials on display but overall the quality is very good.
Practicality & boot space
You’d expect the combination of an SUV body style and a dedicated platform for electric motors to mean the Megane E-Tech Electric is very spacious but this is one of the few areas where we think the Renault could improve. Space in the rear seats is probably on a par with the old car but you feel a little too close to the front seats, which could well be within kicking distance for children in car seats. Legroom is okay unless the front seats are in a low position but at least there’s a flat floor so whoever’s in the middle seat won’t have to splay their legs either side of a transmission tunnel. Electric cars tend to feel far more spacious than petrol rivals; the much-mentioned ID.3 has far more rear-seat space than the Golf, for example, but that’s not the case with the Megane.
The boot is large at 440 litres and it’s deep too. The Megane is front-wheel drive, so doesn’t have a motor on the rear axle that takes up space. That means that it could well be a struggle to lift heavy or bulky items in and out, although we’re told a false floor will be optional when the car goes on sale in autumn 2022.
Reliability & safety
While other manufacturers are just dipping their toes in the water when it comes to electric cars, Renault has already waded in. The Renault ZOE was launched almost a decade ago and the French brand has improved its powertrains and their durability over time. Underpinning the Megane E-Tech is a new platform but it’s one that has been co-developed with Nissan, which has also sold an electric car for the last decade. The Megane will share its ‘CMF-EV’ architecture with the upcoming Nissan Ariya.
Renault achieved a top 20 position in our 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. The brand’s cars were praised for their infotainment systems, ride and handling, build quality, styling and value, with only servicing costs getting a poorer score. The Megane should be cheaper to service than a petrol or diesel car, however.
A five-star Euro NCAP rating is pretty much standard for an electric family-size car. We’ll have to wait to see how it fares in safety testing; the latest Renault Captur, Renault Clio and Renault Arkana all got five stars. Level 2 semi-autonomous driving will be available, combining lane-keeping assist with adaptive cruise control.