The new Renault Mégane is now fully electric and looking to be as relevant as the fuel-powered models that came before.
It is a sign of the times that by the first week of March 2023 I have written only about one petrol-powered car thus far – and to say it was being killed in favour of an all-new electric successor.
This is the third purely electric vehicle on these pages this year, a trend quite unlikely to change as press departments have very few combustion cars at their car parks that they want to promote these days.
I decided to pick up the new Renault Mégane and keep an open mind, whilst doing my best to look at it purely in the realm of what it is: a way to go from A to B while emitting zero carbon dioxides and offering the passengers a highly technological experience that makes them feel they have bought something special.
Oops, sorry, already getting a bit cynical there. But aren’t all electric cars trying to compensate their inherent emotionless existence with bigger screens, self-parking systems, Apple Car Play and the lot?
Renault are just following the market trend, and at least they have come up with something that actually looks really good.
The new Mégane E-Tech Electric is a world apart from its traditional predecessors, adopting a very avant-garde look that breaks the mould and introduces a bold new design language for the brand, while positioning the French constructor as a leader in technology systems.
The new Mégane makes use of the CMF-EV platform, developed by the Renault-Nissan conglomerate, already making good service at the Nissan Ariya. A flat battery pack lays on the floor of the car and drives a single motor in cheaper models, two motors in top-of-the-line ones. Where it differs from most other similar platforms is that the main motor drives the front wheels, not the rears.
This, Renault say, allows for a bigger boot and saves some of the cabling complexity and weight.
The (very) low roofline, short overhangs and enormous 20in wheels give the Mégane E-Tech quite a dynamic presence on the road, managing that hardest of tricks of giving the impression that it’s moving even when it’s standing still. The more time I spent with the Renault the more I fell for its looks and, seeing as electric cars don’t compete in engine specs, noise or gearbox precision, it seems only natural that the look of the cars is going to be even more important than ever before.
Driving the Mégane is, well, pretty much like any other EV, I am afraid. Very quiet, peaceful and soothing, with instant power delivery and a lot of performance. It’s not as comfortable as last month’s BMW i7 obviously, but you could have five Renaults for the price of that; however, it felt more compliant on the road than the Volvo C40 I also drove recently, a testament to the French constructor’s unshakable commitment in keeping with a traditional French approach to cars, where comfort sits at the top of the priority list.
This always seemed to make sense, but I guess it is even more logical in the EV era, where most customers won’t be seeking driving thrills – for that they will most likely keep a noisy, fuel-burning ‘classic’ in the garage if they can.
The Mégane E-Tech is quite a cool car to drive around in and it definitely attracts a lot of positive attention. ‘My’ car was black with some bronze accents, and it really stood out from Portugal’s traditionally grey car park.
The cabin is a nice place to be, Renault looking to give it a kind of lounge vibe and mostly getting it right. The infotainment system is so complete you need to take at least one day off to learn the whole thing, but the basic driving and media functions are easily accessible and fairly intuitive.
The new Android Auto allows a complete integration between your Google ecosystem and the car, there is Apple Car Play and the dedicated app store lets you use all the latest trends. Goodbye radio, hello Spotify.
The car I drove was the EV60 with the big 60kWh battery and 220 horsepower in Iconic trim line, the highest available. Renault says it has up to 470km of range. At 130kW of charging power, you can get 80% of the battery capacity in only 33 minutes, while with a regular 22KW wall box it will take 2h30min. Plug it on a 2.3KW domestic socket and you will need at least 31 hours. It’s not a lot, believe me. I have tested cars that needed 48 hours of charging time to be fully usable again. The future and all of that.
The Mégane E-Tech Electric starts at €35,850 for the EV40 model and rises to the €51,574 it costs to take home an Iconic EV60 like the one I tested. Saving the planet is not cheap. Not that electric cars will ever accomplish that. Buy one because you like the Mégane – and you probably will – not for any eco-minded decision-making process, please.
No electric car is doing the planet any good. I will keep on writing it for that one good reason our parents taught us: because it’s the truth.
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