Renault’s lower-medium Megane range is currently in a bit of a limbo state. An all-new, all-electric Megane E-Tech has been revealed, but won’t go on sale until later this year. And when it does arrive, it’ll continue to be sold alongside previous-generation plug-in hybrid E-Tech Meganes, such as the car tested here. For now, though, PHEV Meganes are the only ones you can buy, with regular petrol and diesel versions having recently been axed from the line-up. As for the PHEV, having been introduced as a Sport Tourer estate only, it is now also available as a hatchback. 

In terms of powertrain, the PHEV E-Tech hatch is identical to the Sport Tourer. To recap, it features a 90hp petrol engine alongside two electric motors – a main one that produces 65hp to aid with propulsion, and a secondary, mild hybrid-style motor that works as a high voltage starter and generator. The selectable EV-only mode (with a 30-mile range on the official WLTP test cycle) is fine for nipping about town and for getting up to motorway speeds if required, though with only the 65hp available it doesn’t exactly deliver lightning Tesla-style acceleration. With the petrol engine also engaged the level of shove is reasonable enough, with the ‘My Sense’ hybrid mode alternating between the different power sources automatically as and when required. Happily, we didn’t find that the hatch suffered from the occasional slow responses and coarse engine noises we encountered when we tested the Sport Tourer earlier this year. The hatch does benefit from being about 70kg lighter than the estate, meaning inevitably a bit less effort will be needed from the powertrain to make progress, and it also has slightly better official fuel economy and emissions figures, though not enough to reduce its company car tax liability. 

The reduced weight also makes the hatch feel a bit more nimble to drive. The steering is light but not inaccurate, and although there is an element of roll in bends that takes the edge off its dynamic sharpness, cornering is still fundamentally sound. A fairly supple ride helps  isolate road surface imperfections, though it can feel a little firm around town.

The Megane’s interior benefits from improvements made when the range was facelifted around a year ago, including a smart 10in driver display, which can incorporate satnav instructions including those from a smartphone, and a responsive 9.3in central touchscreen. Space in the back might be tight with a taller driver, although headroom is good, and of course the obvious area where the hatch loses out to the Sport Tourer is on boot space – 308 litres versus the estate’s 447 litres.

As for unrelated rivals, although the Megane hatch’s 11% BIK rate is very good in isolation, it is higher than the 7% rate incurred by the VW Group’s Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia, and Seat Leon plug-in hybrids, due to those models’ higher EV ranges. However, by virtue of a lower P11D value, the Megane tested is fairly evenly matched with the Seat and Skoda on a cost-per-mile basis, though behind the Golf due to that model’s stronger residual values. It should also be noted that those cars are more powerful than the Renault. But still, the Megane has much about it that is commendable, and does seem a better resolved product in hatch form.

Renault Megane R.S. Line E-Tech Plug-in Hybrid 160 Auto 

P11D: £31,440

Residual value: 28.9% 

Depreciation: £22,337

Fuel: £1,566

Service, maintenance and repair: £1,750

Cost per mile: 42.75p

Fuel consumption: 235.4mpg

CO2 (BIK %): 28g/km (11%)  

BIK 20/40% a month: £58/£115

Luggage capacity: 308 litres

Engine size/power: 1,598cc/90hp plus 65hp electric motor