Renault Megane E-Tech Techno - long term review
A year is a long time in electric cars. New ones keep being launched. What might have been a car with rare qualities soon has to compete with several others. Renault has taken its time in moving the steering wheel and pedals over to our side of the dashboard. So although I loved the Megane electric when I first drove it a year ago, will I love it now?
Well, it has managed to evade too many of the arrows of competition. While there have been boatloads of mid-size electric crossovers launching, the only new electric hatchbacks are the Cupra Born and MG 4. And I'd driven the Born last year at the same time as the Renault. The MG was an unknown for longer, but we tested it against the Megane (and VW ID.3) and found the Renault is more attractive and nicer to drive. But it flippin' well needs to be given the price gap.
Finally, then… the car sitting in my street is, as listed on the configurator, a Megane E-Tech EV60 Optimum Charge Techno. But a glance at available choices shows we can forget most of that verbiage. E-Tech is simply Renault's way of saying it's electric, to distinguish from the old petrol Megane. (Oh, hang on, E-Tech is also Renault's word for hybrid, and there was a hybrid old Megane by the same name.)
EV60 means the 60kWh battery and 220bhp motor. There's also a cheaper version with 40kWh and 130bhp but it's not sold here so we can ignore that. Optimum Charge means it can ingest AC up to 22kW three-phase. But again that's standard here. In France there are cheaper options with single-phase 7kW. Techno is the middle spec. It's well stuffed with gear.
The one I'm in is £950 extra for its paint because both the lower-half 'Ceramic Grey' and the roof 'diamond black' are premium colours. But apart from that there are no options fitted and none available. Renault is keeping things simple.
I had quite a bit of trouble connecting the Renault remote-charging app on my phone to the car. That always happens. Why do manufacturers all pretend they can do reliable car connectivity when they can't? The difference here is Renault's call centre were fantastically helpful.
No long trips so far, so I can't say anything about efficiency. Early non-definitive indications are that range won't be far above 210 miles in winter. I see my friend Tom Ford has come into a Cupra Born with a bigger 77kWh battery.
But last year I drove that very spec of Born side-by side with this very spec of Megane, and greatly preferred the Megane's control interface and rather preferred the drive too. For those things I'm happy to enjoy being in the Renault and very occasionally break a journey for 15 minutes to add the 17kWh by which my battery is undersized versus his.
Besides, a smaller battery means a lighter car. I've come out of a VW ID.4 with the 77kWh battery and the Renault establishes a more enjoyably vivid connection between driver and road.