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First Drive

First Drive: Renault Megane PHEV

RENAULT MEGANE ICONIC E-TECH 160 SPORT TOURER
The story: Renault’s first plug-in hybrid arrives in the form of the Megane Sports Tourer estate, hitting the road at the same time as the plug-in hybrid Captur crossover. A 30-mile electric range means a 13% BiK band for the 2021/22 tax year.
Category:Lower medium
Key rival:Seat Leon PHEV
Price:£30,940
Efficiency:217.3mpg
Emissions:30g/km
On sale:Now

The Renault Megane Sport Tourer’s mid-life facelift consist of much more than the usual improvements to tech and the looks, because the brand has added a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

A hatch version will follow this summer, but for now the Megane PHEV comes only in estate form.

It makes it into the 13% company car Benefit-in-Kind band for 2021/22 thanks to an electric-only range of 30 miles.

First Drive - March 2021 - Renault Megane PHEV - Image 6The electric motor works in conjunction with a 1.6-litre petrol engine for a combined 160hp that makes the plug-in the most powerful Megane this side of the hot hatch RenaultSport version. It joins the 140hp petrol and 115hp diesel engines carried over from the pre-facelift Megane.

There are new bumpers, a new grille and LED lighting front and rear on all trims. Door handle lighting also appears.

On the inside, the Megane now has a pair of new and clearer displays, with the 10.0-inch dash screen joined by a 9.3-inch touchscreen on top RS Line models, and two seven-inch screens on Iconic trim.

The plug-in hybrid loses over 130 litres of boot space compared to the petrol or diesel Megane Sport Tourer, because of the positioning of the batteries beneath the floor. Still, this is in the region of that given up by rival plug-in hybrid estates such as the Kia Ceed, Seat Leon or Skoda Octavia, although the Megane had a smaller boot to start; it offers 389 litres, compared with 437 for the Kia, 470 for the Seat and 490 for the Skoda.First Drive - March 2021 - Renault Megane PHEV - Image 7

A longer EV range also means the Skoda sits four BiK bands better than the Renault, although the Megane and Leon are two bands better than the Ceed, which can’t hit an official 30 miles for its battery range.

The PHEV has three driving modes; Pure offers EV-only running, MySense optimises hybrid running and can also save the battery for later in the journey, and the Sport mode combines both petrol and battery for maximum performance.

Running in the middle one allows the car to switch between systems depending on the speed and how hard the accelerator is pushed. However, the Megane powertrain does occasionally get in a flap and flip-flops between petrol and electric, especially on drags up hills.

This is also a situation that doesn’t show the car’s refinement in the best light, with the petrol engine a bit louder that is ideal when under duress.

Otherwise, the PHEV is a useful addition, particularly for job-need fleets that require a decent boot space to go with the controlled running costs of a PHEV.

paul barker

The verdict

Well priced against rivals and a sensible PHEV addition to the Megane range that comes with a mild revision of Renault’s lower-medium model.