Renault have launched 3 new hybrid E-TECH models of their existing lineup, the Clio, the Captur, and the Megane Sport Touring. I got the chance to drive all three and give some first impressions, so here they are! The Clio is the odd one out as it’s the only non plug-in hybrid and has a much smaller 1.2KWh battery compared to the others’ 9.8KWh unit.
All 3 cars share the same 1.6L NA 4 Cylinder petrol engine, and dual motor arrangement, but due to the smaller battery in the Clio it only produced 140hp instead of the full 160hp the Captur and Megane offer. All three also have the new clutchless, syncroless gearbox. It’s rather unique, and uses the electric motors to seamlessly shift gears. That works well for in town driving, but accelerating hard can make it falter, and refuse to upshift instead choosing to make the pistons dance on the bonnet until you lift off the accelerator.
You do get a new gearbox mode though, called “B-Mode”, which lets you drive it much like a full EV with one-pedal-driving. As you lift off the accelerator, it will aggressively regen brake, feeding power back into the battery and will bring you to an almost complete stop (4mph) so you only need to use the actual brakes in an emergency or to come to a complete stop.
Personally, I prefer estate cars over SUVs, so the Captur doesn’t really appeal to me but apparently it’s Renault’s best selling model in the UK. For those that are interested, the E-TECH version is a welcome edition to the range. It’s obviously super economical, reasonably spacious and has a very disconnected driving feel – certainly isolated anyway. It’s going to cost you around £30,000, but no year 1 road tax and low benefit in kind if your company is buying it for you.
The megane offers an “R.S Line” option which gives you Alcantara bucket seats and a sporty steering wheel, but unfortunately writes cheques the performance and handling can’t cash. It’s not slow by any means, but with it’s incredibly soft suspension, floaty ride and worryingly light steering it doesn’t drive like a performance car in much sense of the term. As a family car I expect the cheaper standard model would suit you better if you do want one of these.
The E-TECH Clio was pretty much what you’d expect. A reasonably small car with decent performance, reasonable handling for the class and a £18,000-£21,000 price tag. Range was the thing that surprised me the most as it should be able to go for 400-500 miles on a full tank, definitely impressive.