Motoring with Tony Conlon: Trusty Megane matures with new E-Tech

Renault’s Megane E-Tech Electric is so different to any Megane gone before that I wonder should the French carmaker have given it a different name.

After having just handed back a very good, prestige brand electric car (an Audi Q4 e-tron) and getting into the Renault, I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I came to like it.

For a car with less range and a lot less price to impress as soon as I sat into its comfortable driver’s seat really says a lot. Renault isn’t new to the electric game and this shows with the Megane E Tech. This carmaker’s experience shines through everywhere.

It’s a pretty, nicely-built hatchback that is taller than many other hatches. Sitting on very stylish 20-inch alloys and wearing 215/45R Goodyear tyres, this Megane looks more compact because of its short front and rear overhangs.

It has lovely design traits such as the very slim, full LED headlights, hidden rear pillar door handles and front door handles that unfold from their flat panel level as soon as the key-holder comes close. With electric folding mirrors and electric tailgate opening, I liked the wheel arch coverings, daytime driving and indicator light styling, the slim rear lighting and the short overhanging roof spoiler.

Above all, I loved the Shadow Grey body colour and Diamond Black roof that was divided by attractive chrome trimming. Indeed, the test car’s colour combination won plenty of admirers. Costing €650 extra for the grey and €400 for the black roof, I think I’d play the spoons outside the GPO if I had to in order to come up with the extra money.

The E-Tech measures 4.2m long, 1.76m wide and 1.50m tall and has a wheelbase of 2.68m. The car offers a large, deep boot that can - like most hatchbacks - be extended. The high lip, on the other hand, could cause problems for some people while unloading heavy objects.

Inside is very pleasant. I liked the 9-inch multimedia link screen with navigation and the 12.3-inch driver information screen display cluster. Interestingly, the fitment of an air vent between the two screens did not take away from the hi-tech appearance.

Having a phone charging pad under the key-function button controls worked for me, but all the steering stalks could give rise to confusion for some. Left of the well-designed multi-function, flat top and flat bottom steering wheel is a stalk for the lights; on the right there is a similar styled stalk for the wipers, a stubby smaller stalk for the radio controls and a slim longer, Mercedes-like stalk for the automatic transmission controls.

As well as all these stalks there are two paddles to control the regeneration behind the wheel and there is a multi-sense button also attached to allow the driver to choose their desired driving mode.

While reading about all the steering attachments may create confusion in itself, I actually got used to the set-up very quickly and I can vouch for the fact that drivers will not have to earn their wings to drive this car.

Offering good interior storage, especially within the central, sliding console that also acts as an armrest, I found the fabric dash covering interesting. One benefit is it doesn’t cause any glare projected onto the windscreen. The comfortable and supportive seating that was covered in a grey fabric made from recycled materials and synthetic leather stitched together with lemon-coloured thread looked good as well.

Predicable and comfortable on the mixture of roads travelled, the Megane E-Tech has a 60kWh battery. Capable of producing 220bhp, it’s very interesting to see the performance differences from the different driving modes (Sport, Perso, Eco and Comfort).

The car proved itself to be stunningly quick for the very short period I drove in Sport mode (0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds), but I also liked the performance in Eco mode. Driving mostly on the latter setting, I found a 100% charge delivered 350km altogether. Using the regenerative paddles certainly extended the driving range.

Packed with safety equipment, this Renault Megane E-Tech is certainly on my recommendation list.