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First drive: Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-Tech Plug-in Hybrid

Date: 05 October 2020   |   Author: Pete Tullin

The Renault Megane is all too often damned by faint praise but that situation may be about to change thanks to the introduction of an all-new petrol-electric powertrain.
Standard equipment:
Air-conditioning, 17in alloy wheels, full LED headlamps, cruise control, four electric windows, 9.3in touchscreen, infotainment system with DAB, Bluetooth, Apple Carplay and Android, remote central-locking
Petrol-electric hybrid: 1.6 4cyl 160hp, 49kW electric motor
Equipment grades:
Iconic, RS
Clutchless automatic

They say God loves a trier and God knows Renault has tried everything in the book to turn its Megane hatchback and estate Sports Tourers into success stories. 

Despite concerted efforts to improve exterior design and interior quality and offering significant buyer enticements such as big-car comfort and safety features, alongside attractive finance packages, it seems fate remains firmly set against the Megane, as it continues to struggle against a backdrop of weak demand and meagre residuals values. 

No doubt Renault is hoping the introduction of a new plug-in hybrid version will turn fortunes around and persuade business users to re-evaluate the Megane. 

This all-new plug-in powertrain features a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine paired with a punchy electric motor, which allows the Megane to cover 30 miles at up to 84mph on electric power alone. The upshot is the E-Tech Megane boasts a claimed WLTP combined fuel economy figure of 217.9mpg and emissions output of just 30g/km, meaning it falls into the 10% BIK tax bracket. Of course, these figures will remain pie in the sky if the hybrid battery is not regularly charged from a 7kW wall box, as failing to do so will see drivers relying too heavily on the petrol engine as it drags around a mass of exhausted cells and expends additional energy trying to re-energise those cells.   

Perhaps the most intriguing piece of the Megane's drivetrain is its clutchless automatic gearbox, which uses sensors and electric motors to synchronise gearchanges. It's a nifty solution, and for the most part one that works pretty seamlessly, slotting gears almost imperceptibly, with just the odd shudder interrupting the near-linear acceleration. You can also select 'Brake' mode, which increases the level of electric motor regeneration and delivers a more pronounced braking feel when you come off the accelerator pedal. Develop a savvy enough approach and you may well be able to complete some journeys in B mode without ever touching the brake pedal.

Along with the electric drive motor, the gearbox is reliant on a steady stream of electric power to operate. It's the same with the starter motor and various ancillary devices, including the air-conditioning compressor, so the petrol engine will occasionally increase revs independently to ensure voltage stocks are maintained. Although these events are rare, and most happen when the car is stationary, on the odd occasion they will chime in at crawling speeds, which can be quite a spooky experience, as the drive is disconnected and the engine's revs are boosted autonomously. 

In the main, the E-Tech Megane does a sterling job of coping with UK roads. It's not the sharpest tool in the box when responding to steering inputs, which is probably partly down to the additional 105kg of batteries, but it restrains body movements well and soaks up lumps and bumps in a quiet, polished manner.

It's also a pretty refined tourer, as even with the petrol engine singing there's very little audible noise or vibration. Throw in good wind and road noise isolation, and comfortable, supportive seating and the Megane does a very decent job of easing the daily slog.   

It's also nicely appointed inside, with a high quota of good-quality materials used throughout and a large, flash, centrally mounted touchscreen that provides pinch and scroll functions for the satnav. It also allows those up front to alter driving modes, ambient lighting colours, and myriad connectivity and camera monitoring features.

Along with looking the part the Megane also feels pretty luxurious, providing more than sufficient space for four to stretch out in comfort. Also, despite having to accommodate the battery pack under the rear seats the Touring's boot at 447 litres is still easily capable of accommodating a quartet of large suitcases. 

Like all Meganes the E-Tech comes with a fair amount of safety kit and creature comforts, including lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and automatic low and high-beam activation, although for some reason best known to Renault only top-end RS models come with active emergency braking as standard, which seems somewhat mean in a car with a starting price north of £30K.

Renault Megane Sport Tourer RS Line E-Tech 160 auto 

P11D: £32,630

Residual value: 26.8%

Depreciation: £23,880

Fuel: tbc

Service, maintenance and repair: £1,752

Cost per mile: tbc

Fuel consumption: 217.6mpg

CO2 (BIK band): 30g/km (10%)  

BIK 20/40% a month: £54/£109

Boot space: 447 litres

Engine size/power: 1,598cc/160hp



  • Tax-efficient powertrain
  • Refined road manners
  • Spacious and comfortable
  • Occasional gearbox shudders
  • Oddball engine/charging strategy
  • Not cheap