- The long-lived Europe-market Renault Mégane now has an electric crossover version, launched at the IAA auto show in Munich, Germany.
- The E-Tech offers a choice of outputs, 128 or 215 horsepower, using a motor also found in the Nissan Leaf. It’s no speed demon, with a top speed of 100 mph, but it can tow—up to 663 pounds.
- The apparent top rival to this stylish EV on the European market is the Volkswagen ID.3.
It’s so easy to fall for a car with an accent in its name. French automaker Renault has been producing the Mégane since 1995, through four generations and multiple body styles. None of these have ever officially reached the United States. Yet we couldn’t resist telling you about this one, the very handsome new Mégane E-Tech that was launched this week at the IAA auto show in Munich, Germany.
The regular Mégane comes as a hatchback, sedan, and wagon, but the E-Tech has become a taller crossover with its wheels pushed out to each corner, although only its front axle is powered. It has a relatively compact 165.8-inch length and sits on both a 106.3-inch wheelbase and Renault’s new CMF-EV platform. An extra-low battery pack sits under the floor, and the company is particularly proud that this is only 4.3 inches in depth.
An usual and praiseworthy addition is the “Fireman Access” feature, which is claimed to give first responders an easier time in case of a fire or crash. Renault said the feature, developed in collaboration with French firefighters, allows a battery fire to be put out in as little as five minutes, compared with up to three hours for other EVs. The E-Tech has a switch under the rear bench seats to “enable the rescue teams to disconnect the battery from the high voltage circuit of the vehicle,” Renault said. There’s also a QR code on the vehicle’s windshield that, when scanned, can give first responders information on where the battery and airbags are located and instructions to extricate injured occupants from the vehicle quickly and safely.
Two battery capacities will be offered, 40.0 and 60.0 kWh, giving, respectively, 186 miles and 292 miles of range under Europe’s generally optimistic WLTP testing protocol. The car will also be sold with two power outputs for its electrically excited synchronous motor, which has already been seen in the Nissan Leaf: 128 and 215 horsepower (with torque figures of 184 and 221 pound-feet). The latter delivers a claimed 7.6-second zero-to-62-mph time. Top speed is limited to 100 mph. Fast charging at speeds of up to 130 kW from a sufficiently powerful DC charger is supported, giving the ability to take the battery from 15 to 80 percent in 30 minutes. This Mégane weighs a claimed 3570 pounds, but Renault says it will be able to tow up to 663 pounds, a relatively unusual skill for a Europe-market EV.
Images of the interior make it clear that Renault has entered the arms race over screen size that seems to have broken out among automakers. There are two displays, the 12.3-inch one that incorporates the instruments and relays driving information in a landscape orientation in front of the driver, plus a 12.0-inch central display in a Tesla-like portrait configuration. The Mégane E-Tech is also the first Renault to use Google’s Android Auto operating system. Oh, and the LED lighting can be cycled through 48 color options, so drivers will be able to match their outfits.
A set of 18-inch wheels will be standard, but arch-filling 20-inch alloys will be an option. The E-Tech uses a multi-link rear suspension system in addition to its strut front end. Other high-tech features include full LED exterior lighting, smart adaptive headlights, and a full automatic parking system that doesn’t even require the driver to engage forward or reverse gears to maneuver into spaces.
Renault hasn’t released European pricing yet, but the E-Tech will almost certainly be close to the Volkswagen ID.3, which seems to be its most obvious rival. It certainly looks set to be a very stylish alternative.
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