2024 Renault Megane E-Tech: A chic electric SUV that won’t cost the planet

Posted on July 1, 2024Comments Off on 2024 Renault Megane E-Tech: A chic electric SUV that won’t cost the planet

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Well before it dropped in Australia, the all-new Renault Megane E-Tech had already been lauded by colleagues in the UK and Europe as a cut above its rivals.

After spending just over a week living with it in the hustle and bustle of Sydney, it’s easy to see why this diminutive (by proportions) EV has already earned plenty of applause and nods of praise from the punters.

Design wise, it has French flair in spades.

With the influx of Chinese electric brands along with scores of Teslas (also built in China) roaming our streets, the Renault Megane E-Tech Techno EV60 – its full model name denoting battery size – remains one of the few Europeans in this segment, alongside the Cupra Born.

Its hatchback-style body and compact proportions are deceptive. That’s why Renault calls Megane E-Tech a crossover SUV, because both labels seem to be correct here.

It boasts plenty of room inside thanks to a flat floor across the second row and a good size boot behind. There’s no frunk (under-bonnet storage), but there is a separate underfloor compartment for charging cables that’s larger than expected.

The Megane E-Tech is a battery-electric vehicle boasting sound engineering competency, particularly with regards to ride, handling, and steering.

Reassuringly, it’s built on the same dedicated EV platform underpinning Renault’s performance EV brand Alpine. It steers and handles superbly, not to mention excellent ride comfort over all manner of bumps and broken road.

While the styling at both ends screams avantgarde with the low-profile glasshouse and big wheels, the Megane E-Tech is also relatively conventional looking with its hatchback body.

That’s a good thing for those looking to transition from traditional combustion-engine cars to 100 per cent electric mobility for the first time.

Along with the long list of standard kit there are a couple of key aesthetic features I like, including cool light signatures incorporating LED shows (front and back) as you approach the car, and animated turn signals.

It also boasts the best auto-extending flush door handles in the business thanks to both an innovative, yet practical design which incorporates a grab hook at one end for a failsafe grip.

And for those that subscribe to the book ‘there is no planet B’ when it comes to climate change, you’ll be delighted to know the Megane E-Tech is over 90 per cent recyclable and includes no less than 28kg of recycled plastics and fabrics across the dashboard, centre console, and headrests.

It may not seem like a big deal to some, but it comes across as a genuine effort to do the right thing however small it might seem in the grand scale of climate change initiatives.

Climb aboard the Megane E-Tech and you’ll find one of the more interesting and higher-quality cabins in this relatively affordable EV category, including the recycled fabrics and plastics. Take the leather-wrapped and contoured steering wheel which reminds me of that in the shockingly expensive Aston Martin DB12.

It’s flattened at both ends but is similarly tactile and nice to the touch. There are paddle shifters, but not for shifting gears. Instead, these ones offer four levels of regenerative braking. They can also have the effect of stepping up and down like gear ratios if you feel like more driver involvement.

Not only does the blend of leather-style upholstery with recycled fabrics and contrasting stitch look contemporary and fashionable, the seats are well bolstered but without impeding general comfort across both seat rows.

Kudos to the ergonomic experts, who have managed to fuse cutting-edge infotainment with traditional buttons and switches to make things simple and intuitive for those hopping into an EV for the first time.

This factor alone can be a game changer for some buyers. There’s plenty of good tech, including a large 12.3-inch digital driver’s display paired with a 9.0-inch touchscreen with crystal-clear graphics and quick response.

And while the ergonomics mentioned earlier are bang on, there’s also wireless (and wired) smartphone mirroring and charging to make the user experience stress free.

The Megane E-Tech also gets multi-sense, a system allowing the driver to set one of four experiences (modes). There’s ambient lighting with a 48-colour palette to choose from that can be programmed to change colours throughout the day – Renault calls this feature ‘Living Lights’.

Renault has equipped the Megane E-Tech with a long list of luxury features, including 20-inch Soren wheels, adaptive LED headlights with auto high-beam, a key card with keyless entry with ‘walk-away’ locking, and a smart rear-view mirror that allows the driver to switch between a standard rear-view and wide-angle camera-based view.

Audiophiles will like the Arkamys sound system; never mind the six speakers because it sounds better than many 12-speaker systems I’ve heard in more expensive cars.

There’s also front, rear, and side parking sensors, adaptive cruise, and a full suite of Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) ensuring a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Before hopping into the driver’s seat to experience that punchy EV take off, it’s worth noting the ecological sensitivity of manufacturing beyond the cabin.

At only 110mm, its 60kWh battery is one of the world’s thinnest and again is 99 per cent recyclable.

That same ultra-low profile battery also gives it a lower centre of gravity for flat cornering and sound body control, as does its sophisticated multi-link rear suspension setup.

There’s excellent compliance to soak up the harshest bumps without compromising its deft handling. It’s a benchmark as far as this segment goes.

Moreover, it’s one of the lightest EVs we’ve seen from this segment. Constructed of mostly aluminium, it tips the scales at just 1642kg – lighter than its closest rival and a key factor in why it’s such a competent handler.

That’s not something you can say about most EVs, because most are shockingly heavy.

Better still, there are direct environmental benefits to the car’s manufacturing process. After stamping and cutting the lightweight body panels, all the aluminium scrap is sent back to the supplier for recycling. 

Renault calls it a ‘closed loop’ in terms of the circular economy approach to car manufacturing.

Dynamically it’s well ahead of the game, behaving more like its conventional petrol-engine Megane predecessors when it comes to power delivery, brakes and steering.

To that very point, it has very quick steering with just 2.3 turns of the steering wheel from lock-to-lock.

That’s proper supercar spec, and yet another factor enhancing the driving experience. It’s not just the car’s cat-like agility that will put a smile on your face, it’s the 10.4m turning circle that makes mundane manoeuvres like three-point turns and U-turns a breeze.

Then there’s the electric motor itself. It weighs just 145kg and is free of any rare earth metals. You can’t say Renault isn’t trying reduce its impact on the environment.

It’s got plenty of go. Not only is the Megane E-Tech zippy off the line, it’s not scary quick like many other EVs tend to be.

This just might be the most linear electric vehicle in its class, offering a more natural pedal feel with power delivery, but also with braking and steering controls.

Range is a claimed 454km on the WLTP test cycle in the more economical driving modes, despite its relatively small 60kWh battery.

AC charging at home is good for up to 7.4kW while up to 130kW DC is possible at fast charging stations, so going from 15 to 80 per cent capacity will take approximately 35 minutes and add around 300km of range.

Priced from $54,990 before on-roads, the Renault Megane E-Tech is a tempting proposition as one of the most user-friendly EV crossovers for the big city – one that oozes style but with precision handling, great ride comfort, and easy manoeuvring in the tightest spots.

And let’s face it, nothing else invokes a sense of Parisian flair better than this delightfully versatile EV with a bunch of cool tech on board which makes it a nice place to be during the daily commute.

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