Test – Renault Mégane E-Tech EV40: driving ban?
5th generation Mégane, 100% electric
40 kWh small battery version
300 km WLTP range
No fast charging for beginners
The fifth generation of the Mégane is that of the handover. Between the world before, thermal, that of the fourth generation, whose marketing will of course continue, and the world after, electric.
It is also Renault’s third 100% electric model, after the Zoé and the Twingo E-Tech.
We already tried it a few months ago in its big battery version, the ZE60, and today we’re adopting the entry-level small battery version, the ZE40, which as the name suggests houses a 40kWh battery. And when we talk about beginners, then for once it really is a beginner. The cheapest version in the Equilibre version and equipped with “Standard Charge”, ie without fast charging, and is content with the possibility of charging from a domestic socket with a maximum of 7.4 kW (boosted, or wallbox) or from a public AC connection.
Just slow loading no longer available?
It is officially shown at 35,200 euros, the ecological bonus is not deducted, which corresponds to 29,200 euros when taken into account. Very aggressive pricing. But, because there is a but, this version, which was of course authentically part of the Renault catalogue, seems no longer available to order today. In fact, it has disappeared from the brand’s configurator on its official website. Today you can choose the ZE40 version only in the Equilibre version, but in “Boost Charge” mode, that is, with AC charging that goes up to 22 kW and the possibility of connecting direct current to the DC terminals, for one maximum charging power of 85 kW. This increases the base price by €2,000 or €37,200.
Is that a bad thing? Not really. Because the car we had to test is anything but versatile.
Admittedly with an announced autonomy of 300 km in the WLTP mixed cycle, which is certainly a good value for the capacity of the battery, but with an imposed slow charge, so at best a full electron in 6h17 (and almost 21h on a domestic socket). ), it is impossible to plan a trip or even spend a weekend far away. This battery/charging capacity combination limits this Mégane E-Tech EV40 to domestic use only. The versatility that should be that of a compact car, or even an urban crossover if considered as such, takes its place.
It is therefore to be banished from your purchasing intentions, except just to make your home shine. And you still need to intend to keep the car to the end, because in case of resale, the rating will be much lower than a model with a quick charge function.
Small battery, small motor, but good
While the big 60kWh battery comes with a choice of a 130hp or 220hp electric motor, the small EV40 only offers the lower power. Under the right pedal, only 130 hp are responsible for moving this 1,595 kg car (including 290 kg battery). The 0 to 100 is fully battery-powered in 10 seconds and the top speed is limited to 150 km/h, against 7.4 s. and 160 km/h for the EV60 220 hp.
Of course, the drop in performance is noticeable, but we’re not going from rabbit to tortoise either. On the one hand, the competition reports comparable figures, and above all the comfortable torque of 250 Nm brings up constant memories as soon as the car starts.
Steering wheel in hand, there’s never an impression of lack of responsiveness, except perhaps at launch, where the pair seem reserved. The Mégane E-Tech actually takes off gently before quickly showing more panache. To get the comfort? The tires ? Maybe a bit of both, but definitely nothing prohibitive.
In terms of autonomy, longing for war, the Mégane E-Tech defends itself more than honorably. We had already noticed it when testing the EV60, the diamond brand benefits from all its experience in the field of electricity, acquired with the Zoé and the Twingo, to show an efficiency worthy of the best.
With our test model, we determined an average consumption of 14.4 kWh and a range of 278 km at 130 km/h on a mixed route, but with little city and little motorway, which roughly corresponds to the WLTP certification values. There’s no doubt that more urban routes would have allowed us to go well beyond that. A good point for this Mégane that we repeat is useless without fast charging.
On the go: dynamic and quiet
In terms of road performance, this EV40 doesn’t lose anything compared to its big sister and even offers a nice package and is better than the competition.
It does indeed exhibit pleasing dynamics, with springs being firm just right, very precise steering (but with a slightly artificial feel for our tastes) and excellent grip. The fairly long wheelbase for the overall length (2.68m for 4.20m) with well positioned wheels on the 4 corners of the car gives it good stability. And besides, she never gushes in discomfort. The suspensions are certainly firm, but not dry.
In addition, there is a cathedral atmosphere on board, thanks to extensive sound insulation, very good filtering of air and driving noise.
A negative point would be the feeling on the braking plane. The problem isn’t so much in terms of performance as more in terms of management between regenerative braking and hydraulic braking. The result is that at the end of braking, when the second takes over the first, the Mégane brakes harder if we are not careful by not releasing the pressure on the pedal to stop a little abruptly. A hit to go.
This latest Renault is fitted with paddles behind the steering wheel to control energy regeneration during deceleration. They allow you to adjust the regeneration intensity in 4 levels, from freewheeling to a mode similar to riding with a pedal. But that’s not it: the car brakes hard, but it hits the brake pedal to come to a complete stop. In any case, it is pleasant to handle the “engine brake” and allows to recover more kWh in city traffic and on small roads.
A nice view
After mentioning the subs and the road services, we come to the packaging. If tastes and colors aren’t debated, it has to be acknowledged that this Mégane E-Tech is pretty pretty to look at. She is dynamic, sporty, stocky. Its light signature of zigzag daytime running lights is very recognizable and it sports the brand’s new, oversized logo at the center of a very vertical pseudo grille.
It also has slightly increased crossover properties. In short, she has her finger on the pulse. However, we’ll rail against its very small glass area, which evokes a sense of confinement inside, particularly in the rear seats, and a complicated rear view. Our entry-level Equilibre finish is also a little less luxurious, with window surrounds and rear door handle (hidden in the pillar) in raw plastic rather than painted black on the high finishes.
A modern and well finished cabin
In the passenger compartment, we also measure Renault’s efforts in terms of presentation and build quality. The first is modern, with a pleasant design and with two digital screens as standard. The one in front of the driver is configurable in two display modes, has a size of 12.3 inches and the second is horizontal in this version and measures 9 inches, while it is vertical and measures 12 inches in the tall versions. The second is well made, with well-chosen materials, such as a pleasantly textured fabric on the top of the dashboard, and very well-made assemblies.
Multimedia leaves the old RLink 2 system to adopt the new OpenR system, which is much more responsive and pleasant to use. Quite logical in its operation, our version does not include navigation with a travel planner. And with good reason, because with the “standard load” you don’t have to know where the fast terminals are. The system, also more reliable than the RLink 2, still gave us an operating error (turn off the radio and restart on the go) but without jamming. So there is better…
Big quantities in a small size
With a very compact size (4.20 m), the Mégane E-Tech also comfortably accommodates 5 passengers. The knee room in the rear is right, and the center passenger isn’t bothered by the service tunnel as there isn’t one. The trunk volume is given as 440 liters of water, but 389 liters according to the VDA standard, which is better than, for example, the Mégane 4 in the E-Tech plug-in hybrid version when it measures 4.36 m. It also has storage space under the trunk floor for charging cables and a few other items. Well seen. However, the charging threshold is a bit high.
Finally, let’s finish with the equipment. The entry-level version Equilibre that we tested already offers a very extensive range of equipment. It includes: air conditioning (manual), hands-free card, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, radar and reversing camera, cruise control speed limiter, Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility, 18-inch aluminum rims. Today it is simple, but nothing is missing and the price/equipment ratio is advantageous.