Move Electric verdict: four stars out of five
Sell it to me in a sentence….
The Megane E-Tech is a Volkswagen Golf-sized family hatchback that’s stylish, good to drive and packed with tech and, starting from £35,995, intriguingly priced.
That all sounds rather good, tell me more?
To be honest, it’s surprising Renault has taken this long to come up with the Megane R-Tech. It’s pioneering Zoe supermini made its debut in 2013, giving the French firm plenty of time to cash in on its EV know-how. Instead it let rivals steal a march with models such as the excellent Volkswagen ID 3.
Still, while Renault has taken a while to finally launch its second all electric model (we’ll forget the flawed and unpopular Fluence), it looks like the wait has been worth it.
Like the Zoe, the Megane is a clean sheet design, and is the first car from the brand to use its dedicated CMF-EV platform (it's twinned with the Nissan Ariya). Designed from the ground up to be an EV, it packages its lithium ion batteries under the floor, but unlike the ID 3 it mounts its motor at the front where it drives the front wheels. Either way, this layout helps free up extra space for the interior, which is always a good thing.
It’s also around 200kg lighter than the ID 3, which has a positive effect on both the way it drives and its efficiency.
Finally, there’s also a range of battery sizes and motor options, so like all the best family cars there should be a Megane E-Tech to suit most bank balances.
Okay, give me the highlights
Well, let’s start with the styling because, well, just look at it. We’re becoming used to the latest generation of EVs delivering head-turning styling, but we think the Megane looks better than most.
Because it’s based on a bespoke electric car structure the designers haven’t been as constrained as with a normal internal combustion-engined car, with the result they can let their imaginations run wild a bit.
As you’d expect there’s more than a hint of SUV in its high-riding stance, but with its swoopy lines, bold LED light signatures and vast 20-inch wheels the Renault looks just like it’s driven straight out of a stylist’s sketch pad. Really cool features include the flush door handles that pop out as the sense your approach, like they do on the much more expensive Jaguar i-Pace.
Yet the really great news is that the Megane is as good to drive as it looks. If you’ve never driven an EV, then the first thing that will strike you is how easy the Renault is to drive. You sit high with a good view out, while the steering is light and accurate making the car a doddle to place on the road.
There are no gears to worry about, just select Drive using the stubby gear lever and then away you go. Like all EVs there’s instant and beautifully progressive acceleration from the near-silent motor, allowing exploit gaps in traffic that traditional internal combustion cars might miss.
Regenerative braking will likely be new to you, the way the car decelerates quickly when you lift off the accelerator as it channels electricity back into the battery can be unnerving. Yet in the Renault you can quickly and easily choose how much braking force you want by simply pulling on one of the steering wheel paddles and selecting from four different settings.
It’s fun as well, the Renault zipping along twisting roads with enough poise and precision that it’ll genuinely make you smile. Like all the best French cars, it combines this agility with a soft and comfortable ride that makes it relaxing when you just want to take it easy. Few rivals can lower your heart rate as easily.
Right, now hit me with some numbers
Renault has aimed to keep things simple with the Megane, so there’s a straightforward choice of two battery sizes, each with a different motor.
In some markets there will be a 40kWh battery with a 186-mile range, which leaves it trailing the entry-level ID 3 and models such as the Citroën e-C4. But at launch the UK will only get the EV60 model, which features a 60kWh battery with an official WLTP range of 280 miles – which puts it among the class leaders.
The bigger battery is capable of accepting DC CCS rapid charging at up to 130kW, meaning you can be back at 80 percent capacity in around half an hour. The 40kWh model needs only 20 minutes to reach the same state, but bear in mind you’ll have to pay extra for the CCS upgrade on this version.
You're likely to do most of your charging using a 7kW domestic wallbox, however, allowing you to leave the car’s cells to be replenished overnight. For the 60kWh battery you’ll need to allow nine hours for a full charge, while the smaller 40kWh pack takes a little less time at seven hours.
We’ve touched on the Megane’s brisk performance, but in raw statistical terms the 60kWh version is far quicker thanks to its powerful 217bhp motor. It feels quick off the mark and that’s reflected in a very brisk 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds, more than fast enough to make you a traffic light grand prix world champion.
That said, while the 129bhp offered by the 40kWh car looks a little weak-kneed by comparison, it feels faster than its 10.0 second 0-62mph time suggests, its instant power allowing to leave drivers of more powerful internal combustion-engined machines trailing in your zero emissions wake.
Renault’s made a name for itself with its tech, how does the Megane shape up?
If you love your technology the Megane will be a bit of a treat. While rivals such as the ID 3 have taken a minimalist approach to their interior design, the Renault embraces its hi-tech heart.
Ahead of you is a large 12.3-inch display for the instruments, while next to this is a 12-inch touchscreen infotainment screen, snappily titled OpenR Link. Angled towards the driver, the combine to create a widescreen experience that rivals far more expensive models such as the Mercedes EQS’s Hyperscreen set-up.
While it’s fair to say the infotainment can be a bit tricky to use on the move as there’s nowhere to rest your hand to stop it being jolted by any bumps, the graphics are crisp, it responds quickly and the menus are logically laid out. Like the Polestar 2 it also uses a Google operating system, so promises even greater connectivity and over-the-air updates.
And what about the practical stuff?
Ah yes, of course; this is a family car after all. Having a bespoke EV platform means that the Megane isn’t constrained by the same packaging compromises as traditional cars, which results in more room inside than you’d expect.
Now, it’s not quite as spacious in the back as an ID 3, while the smaller windows means it’s not as airy, but there’s still enough room for most family needs. Crucially, Renault has really thought about what buyers need, so there’s an impressive 30-litres of storage, including a large seven-litre compartment between the front seats where the gear lever would normally go.
You’ll also find numerous cupholders and more USB-C charging ports than you can shake a dying smartphone at. The boot’s a decent size too, its 440-litre capacity giving it a healthy advantage over the ID 3.
So what will this cost me?
At launch, the Megane will be offered in the UK in EV60 firm and with three trims: Equilibre, Techno, and a special Launch Edition.
The entry-level Equilibre trim is priced from £35,995 and features 18in wheels and LED headlights
. Interior kit includes a heated steering wheel and front seats, par assist, a rear-view camera, 12.3in instrument cluster and a 9in infotainment display.
Techno trim, priced from £38,495, adds driver assistance featured including adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition, and 20in wheels, adaptive LED headlights and 'signature' dynamic turn indicators. There'a also synthetic leather and recycled material trim, tinted rear windows and dual-zone climate control.
Meanwhile, the Launch Edition is priced from £39,995 and featured 20in alloys, a gold 'F1 blade', a 360-dree around view camera and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
Not only does the Megane E-Tech look great inside and out, but it’s fun to drive, practical and, in 60kWh guise, unlikely to bring on an attack of range anxiety. It looks like the ID 3 has some sleepless nights ahead of it.
Renault Megane E-Tech Specification
Price from: £35,995 (est)
Motors: Electric asynchronous
Driven wheels: two
Maximum power: 129-217bhp
Maximum speed: 99mph
0-62mph from: 7.5secs
Electric range (official): 280miles
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Tyres from: N/A
Kerb weight excluding driver: 1624-1725kg
Gross vehicle weight: N/A
Width with mirrors folded: 1780mm
Boot capacity: 440 litres