Renault Megane E-Tech Electric: first drive

  • Next-generation Renault Megane is all-electric
  • Two power outputs, two battery capacities
  • On sale in the UK from September 2022

The Renault Megane is about to undergo a revolution – it's an all-electric car, with no petrol or diesel alternatives, and is aimed squarely at the Volkswagen ID.3.

However, it's lighter and the company is touting it as the GTI of EVs. We've been to France for a drive of a pre-production prototype to assess how good it is.

It’s an interesting car, the Megane Electric. Don’t be fooled by the SUV design cues – it's just 50mm taller than outgoing Megane, is a little shorter and has regular ground clearance. But it shows that in order to sell cars these days, carmakers are choosing to hint at that lifestyle that comes with an SUV.

What's under the bonnet?

There are a number of variations. All are front-wheel drive for now, and powered either by a 130hp or 220hp motor, and come with a choice of two batteries – 40kWh or 60kWh, and Renault claims a WLTP range of 186 miles and 292 miles for the two models.

Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2022)

What's it like inside?

The first impressions are that the quality of the interior measures up. It’s trimmed nicely, with quality to finally see off dated Renault prejudices, especially as there are some very nice touches, such as the action of the disguised rear door handles. The curved dashtop is well trimmed, and the driver’s digital display and infotainment screen are glossy and colourful.

The infotainment system is powered by Google but voice control has a few rough edges. There’s fun to be had asking the assistant questions, though she steadfastly ignores requests to cancel nav waypoints or turn up the heating. There are still physical buttons for that, though, which we agree with. But the rest of the car feels thoroughly modern, and up there with premium opposition.

It's good as a family car, with lots of space inside: there’s plenty of legroom in the rear, a flat floor thanks to the compact battery sited underneath and a vast, arguably too deep boot stowing 440 litres. Seats are very comfortable, too.

Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2022)

What's it like to drive?

We're driving the more powerful 220hp version in pre-production form, but Renault says it's representative of the cars on sale in the summer of 2022.  As you'd expect, it accelerates smartly, with a claimed 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds – driving with a heavy right foot lights up the front wheels and it instantly feels alive.  

There are drive modes to choose from. We start in Comfort mode on dual carriageways interrupted with roundabouts. The steering immediately impresses, with responsive feel, albeit a little on the light side for keener drivers. In corners, there's little bodyroll backing up Renault’s claim that the centre of gravity is 90mm lower than the existing petrol Megane’s.

In Sport mode, the throttle response sharpens up considerably and steering weighs up, giving it much more response. We reckon most drivers will default to leave it in this mode. All that really lets it down is the inconsistent brake pedal – it's mushy, then ferocious. Soft then sharp.

The Megane E-Tech Electric is comfortable and the standout feature is the ride quality. It also shrugs off potholes, driving over expansion joints, and larger bumps, and it’s supremely cossetting. Overall, a very polished performance, and more fun to drive than a Volkswagen ID.3.

Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2022)

Should you buy one?

So is this the electric hot hatch that Renault claims it is? Sure, it's fun to drive and will encourage you into driving it keenly when the opportunity arises. There's no super-large battery option, like you get in the VW ID.3, but the counterpoint is that without that weight, it's a more balanced car to drive. But it's no hot hatch.

On the road, it's certainly capable of delivering a good range considering those middling battery capacities. The interior is certainly a good place to spend time, and feels interesting and cohesive in a way that the conspicuously unconventional ID.3 doesn't. What you're left with is a desirable, well-finished and Google-enabled cabin.

The early signs are that it's a convincing electric family car available in a number of versions. It looks to have a far better range than the Peugeot e-208 and is knocking on the door of the Parkers award-winning Volkswagen ID.3 for efficiency.

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Further reading

>> Car advice on Parkers

>> Why your next car might be bought on an app

>> Find out how much your car is worth with Parkers

Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (2022)