Renault Mégane E-Tech EV40: travel ban?

MAP

5th generation Mégane, 100% electric

40 kWh small battery version

300 km WLTP range

No fast charging for entry level

From €35,200

The fifth generation Mégane is the handover. Between the world before, thermal, that of the fourth generation, whose marketing continues, of course, and the world after, electric.

And it is also Renault’s third 100% electric model, after Zoé and Twingo E-Tech.

We already tried it a few months ago in its large battery version, the ZE60, and today we take over the entry-level, small battery version, the ZE40, which, like the name l ‘indicates, embeds a 40 kWh battery. And when we talk about entry-level, it really is entry-level, for once. The cheapest version, in the Equilibre finish, and equipped with “Standard Charge”, that is, which does not have fast charging, and is content with the possibility of charging at a maximum of 7.4 kW, on a household socket (reinforced, or wall box) or on a public AC terminal.

No longer only available in slow charge?

It is officially listed at €35,200, organic bonus not deducted, which equates to €29,200 when you take that into account. Very aggressive pricing. But because there is a but, this version, which was of course authentically part of the Renault catalog, no longer seems to be available to order today. It has actually disappeared from the brand’s configurator on its official website. Today, you can only choose the ZE40 version in the Equilibre finish, but in “Boost Charge” “charge mode”, i.e. with alternating current charging that goes up to 22 kW, and the possibility of connecting to the DC terminals in direct current, for a maximum charging effect of 85 kW. This adds €2,000 to the base price or €37,200.

Is that a bad thing? Not really. Because the car we had to test is anything but versatile.

The EV40 “standard charging” in our test accepts a charging power of a maximum of 7.4 kW. But it no longer appears to be for sale, in favor of “boost charge” which increases to 22 kW in alternating current and 85 kW in direct current.

In fact, 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 an imposed slow charge, that is, at best, a full electron in 6h17 (and almost 21h on a domestic socket ), is it impossible to plan a trip, or even to go on a weekend a little far away. This combination of battery/charging capacity limits this Mégane E-Tech EV40 to purely domestic use. The versatility that should be a compact or even an urban crossover, if considered as such, takes its place.

It is therefore to be banned from your purchasing intentions, except precisely to shine around your home. And you still have to intend to keep the car until the end, because in case of resale, the rating will be much lower than a model equipped with fast charging.

Small battery, small motor, but performs well

While the large 60 kWh battery comes with a choice of a 130 hp or 220 hp electric motor, the small EV40 only offers the lower output. Under the right pedal, only 130 hp are responsible for moving this 1,595 kg car (including 290 kg battery). 0 to 100 is done in 10 seconds all battery, and the maximum speed is limited to 150 km/h, against 7.4 s. and 160 km/h for the EV60 220 hp.

Under the hood a 130 hp and 250 Nm wound rotor synchronous electric motor, and to drive it a 40 kWh battery.
Under the hood a 130 hp and 250 Nm wound rotor synchronous electric motor, and to drive it a 40 kWh battery.

Of course, the performance degradation is noticeable, but we are not going from hare to tortoise either. On the one hand, competitors announce comparable figures, and above all, the comfortable torque of 250 Nm allows consistent reminders once the car is launched.

Steering wheel in hand, you never have the impression of missing a respondent, except perhaps at start-up, when the couple seems reluctant. Mégane E-Tech actually starts gently before quickly showing more power. To maintain comfort? The tires? Maybe a bit of both, but in any case nothing prohibitive.

In terms of autonomy, war nerves, Mégane E-Tech defends itself more than honorably. We had already noticed it during the test of the EV60 that the diamond brand benefits from all its experience in electricity, acquired with Zoé and Twingo, to show an efficiency that is the best.

With our test model, on a mixed route, albeit with very little city and a bit of highway at 130 km/h, we recorded an average consumption of 14.4 kWh and a range of 278 km, approximating WLTP certification figures. There is no doubt that more city routes would have allowed us to go far beyond them. A good point for this Mégane, which we repeat, is useless in the absence of fast charging.

On the road: dynamic and quiet

In terms of road performance, this EV40 loses nothing to its big sister, and even offers a nice package, and better than the competition.

It actually exhibits pleasing dynamics, with just-right suspensions, very precise steering (but with a somewhat artificial feel for our taste) and exceptional grip. The rather long wheelbase for the overall length (2.68 m by 4.20 m), with well-placed wheels in the car’s 4 corners, gives it good stability. And besides, she never pours out in discomfort. The suspensions are definitely firm but not dry.

On the road, the Mégane E-Tech EV40 maintains proper performance and genuine pleasure.  It is even particularly dynamic in relation to the chassis.
On the road, the Mégane E-Tech EV40 maintains proper performance and genuine pleasure. It is even particularly dynamic in relation to the chassis.

In addition, there is a cathedral atmosphere on board, thanks to extensive sound insulation, very good filtering of air and road noise.

A negative point would be the feel at brake level. The problem is not so much in the form of power, but rather in the form of control between regenerative braking and hydraulic braking. The result is that at the end of the braking, when the second takes over from the first, the Mégane brakes harder, with if we are not careful not to release the pressure on the pedal, to stop somewhat abruptly. A hit to take.

This latest Renault, to manage, as we speak, the regeneration of energy during deceleration, is equipped with paddles behind the steering wheel. They allow you to adjust the regeneration intensity at 4 levels, from freewheeling to a mode similar to “one pedal” driving. But it’s not: the car slows down hard, but it takes action on the brake pedal to come to a complete stop. In any case, it is pleasant to control the “engine brake” and it allows to recover more kWh in city driving and small roads.

A nice look

Having mentioned the underside and roadside service, let’s get to the packaging. If taste and colors are not discussed, it must be admitted that this Mégane E-Tech is quite beautiful to look at. She is dynamic, athletic, powerful. Its light signature of zigzag running lights is very recognizable and it sports, in the center of a very vertical pseudo-grille, the brand’s new, oversized logo.

Nice optics, a huge (new) Renault logo and very recognizable running lights, here is the bow of the Mégane E-Tech.
Nice optics, a huge (new) Renault logo and very recognizable running lights, here is the bow of the Mégane E-Tech.
The stern has fine lights, a massive shield and a typical tailgate glass
The stern has fine lights, a massive shield and a typewritten “killer” tailgate window. Fortunately, a black part on the shield illuminates the whole.

Slightly raised, it also has crossover characteristics. In short, she is in tune with the times. However, we will shine against its very small glass surface, which induces a feeling of confinement inside, especially in the rear seats, and a complicated rear view. Our entry-level Equilibre trim is also slightly less luxuriously presented, with raw plastic window surrounds and rear door handles (hidden in the pillar) instead of painted black on the high trims.

A modern and well-executed cabin

In the cabin, we also measure Renault’s efforts in relation to presentation and quality of finish. The first is modern, with a pleasant design and the presence of two digital screens as standard. The one in front of the driver can be configured in two viewing modes, is 12.3 inches, and the other, in this finish, is horizontal and measures 9 inches, while it is vertical and measures 12 inches on the tall finishes. The second is well made, with well-chosen materials, such as a pleasantly textured fabric on top of the dashboard, and very well-made joints.

The dashboard is well presented, modern and its quality of finish is to be commended.  It uses 2 digital screens, a 12.3 inch for the instrumentation and a 9 inch for the multimedia, in this Equilibre finish.  The double flat steering wheel remains a bit disturbing.  The ergonomics are good, with, for example, physical buttons for the air conditioning.
The dashboard is well presented, modern and its quality of finish is to be commended. It uses 2 digital screens, a 12.3 inch for the instrumentation and a 9 inch for the multimedia, in this Equilibre finish. The double flat steering wheel remains a bit disturbing. The ergonomics are good, with, for example, physical buttons for the air conditioning.

Multimedia abandons the old RLink 2 system to adopt the new OpenR system, which is much more responsive and comfortable to use. Completely logical in its operation, it does not include, on our version, navigation with a trip planner. And for good reason, since with the “standard charging” it is not necessary to know where the fast terminals are. The system, which is also more reliable than the RLink 2, still gave us an operational error (disconnecting the radio and restarting in between), but without blocking. So there are better…

Significant volumes in a small size

In a very limited size (4.20 m), the Mégane E-Tech also manages to fit 5 passengers comfortably. Rear knee room is correct and the middle passenger will not be bothered by the service tunnel as there is none. Trunk volume announced at 440 liters of water, but 389 liters according to the VDA standard, which is, for example, better than the Mégane 4 in the E-Tech plug-in hybrid version when it measures 4.36 m . It also has storage space under the boot floor for charging cables and a few other items. Well spotted. However, the load threshold is a bit high.

The rear seats are spacious enough and there is no service tunnel to get in the way of the middle passenger.
The rear seats are spacious enough and there is no service tunnel to get in the way of the middle passenger.
The cubic trunk 440 liters of water or 389 dm3 according to the VDA standard.  Underfloor storage is present to hide the charging cables.
The cubic trunk 440 liters of water or 389 dm3 according to the VDA standard. Underfloor storage is present to hide the charging cables.

Finally, let’s finish with the equipment. The entry-level Equilibre finish that we are testing offers an already very comprehensive endowment. It includes: air conditioning (manual), hands-free map, emergency brake with pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition, lane assistant, radar and reversing camera, cruise control – speed limiter, Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility, 18″ alloy wheels. It’s basic today, but missing nothing, and the ratio between price and equipment is advantageous.

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