Renault Megane E-Tech Techno: long-term test review

First report: cold weather isn’t spoiling our first impressions of new Renault Megane E-Tech EV

  • 4.0 out of 5

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    Cold weather hasn’t helped its efficiency, but Renault’s EV is still off to a solid start. Its mix of well designed on-board tech and a high-quality cabin sets it apart from any Megane that’s gone before it.

    • Mileage: 3,195
    • Efficiency: 3.0 miles/kWh
    • Timing, as they say, is everything and this Renault Megane E-Tech’s has been impeccable. The first all-electric version of the French marque’s family hatch arrived on our fleet in the middle of a cold snap, and with electricity prices at an all-time high. It really will need to be good if it’s going to impress testers rendered even more cynical than usual by icy windscreens and frozen toes.

      Thankfully, we already know that the new Megane is a bit special. This fifth-generation car is a radical departure from what’s gone before it. We picked it out as our Small Company Car of the Year for 2022 and, between you and me, it also ran the Nissan Ariya close for the overall Auto Express Car of the Year crown. The Ariya, for those who don’t know, is based on the same CMF-EV platform as the Megane, too.

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      Low temperatures aren’t the friend of electric cars. Their battery chemistry doesn’t work as well when the thermometer is at zero, and that’s compounded by the extra current draw of heaters to thaw windscreens and drivers’ digits. Standing about at a charging station isn’t much fun, either. 

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      We’re running a mid-spec Techno model with the only powertrain currently offered, the 60kWh, 217bhp EV60. In Ceramic Grey with the Black Diamond roof (an optional £950 combo) it costs just under £39,500 as tested. Notable kit added on the Techno models over the entry-level Equilibre includes the upgraded Arkamys stereo, adaptive cruise control and 20-inch wheels, but the base car still looks well equipped in its own right for £2,500 less.

      It’s early days, but we’ve certainly learned how the Megane copes with the cold, and the impact of driving style on the indicated range. From a dead-cold start in Eco mode with the heater cranked up high and an ambient temperature around two degrees Centigrade, the indicated range on a full battery was just 144 miles. That’s against an official WLTP combined figure of 280 miles.

      Our car had just been delivered at that point, straight from the care of a particularly lead-footed driver for all we know, and after 80 miles of relatively gentle driving in Eco mode, the next full charge saw an estimated range of 201 miles in six-degree temperatures – much more like it. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on how that range figure changes with driving style and weather conditions as we go.

      If you’ve owned a Renault Megane in the past, you really do need to ditch your preconceptions with this car. The styling is more SUV than family hatchback, with those 20-inch wheels and the cladding along the sills creating the illusion of extra ride height. It seems that you can’t sell a family car these days unless it either is or pretends to be a 4×4, but in that context Renault’s effort is a handsome thing with a very modern look. Big badges and distinctive light signatures front and rear, together with hidden door handles and that slim glass area, see it cover off many of the current trends in car design. It’s almost as if someone at Renault had a checklist.

      When you get inside, things are even further removed from Meganes of old, which never did much to surprise or delight, despite decent quality in more recent versions. This is a top-class family hatchback interior with a bit of sparkle.

      There are very few cheap-feeling plastics on show anywhere, the dash is covered in tactile grey fabric and there’s smart yellow stitching, along with loads of metallic details. The combined screens that sweep across the dash are impressively crisp and clear, while the piano key switches under the central display add an air of quality.

      Criticisms? There’s a bit of flex in that aforementioned bank of switches if you press down on the ledge in front of them firmly, and the steering column has no fewer than four (count ’em) stalks – lights, wipers, gear selector, stereo controls – plus buttons on the wheel itself and paddles behind for the regenerative braking. It seems a lot at first, but at least everything is close to hand. We’ll see how we get on with it once we’re more familiar with it.

      Rear legroom isn’t a strength, either, and there’s a significant lip on the boot opening, forcing you to lower items down into it then lift them out. But under that boot floor is a large cable storage area that fits the charging lead without any need for a man versus snake wrestling match, and that gets a big thumbs up from me.

      Model:Renault Megane E-Tech EV60 220HP Techno
      On fleet since:January 2023
      Price new:£38,495 (£39,445)
      Motor/battery:1x e-motor/60kWh
      Options:Metallic paint with Black Diamond roof (£950)
      Insurance*:Group: 27/Quote: £570
      Efficiency:3.0 miles/kWh
      Any problems?None so far

      *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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