Ageing hatchback gets a novel hybrid system to see out its twilight years
With the launch of the pure-electric Zoe in 2012, Renault was one of the first brands to create a credible EV for the European market. In the ensuing years, things remained quiet around electrification at Renault while other manufacturers launched hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric models.And now, as the current Mégane is due to be replaced by an all-electric successor and EVs are generally gaining ground, Renault has launched a plug-in hybrid version of the recently facelifted outgoing model. In fact, the brand has rapidly pivoted from hybrid sceptic to hybrid believer, as it adds E-Tech hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions to the line-ups of most of its models.It has also turned into a defender of the hybrid, with the firm’s leadership recently telling Autocar that the European Commission’s proposed ban on hybrids in 2035 may come too soon, particularly for the cheaper end of the market that Renault subsidiary Dacia operates in. As the facelifted Mégane undergoes our road test, the question is whether the technology is worth defending.Renault must certainly think so, because the E-Tech plug-in hybrid is now the only Mégane you can buy. The full Mégane range received a facelift in 2020 that brought some subtle styling tweaks and a much-needed overhaul of the infotainment, but the petrol and diesel versions proved short-lived, with all except the plug-in hybrid removed from sale earlier this year.The current-shape Mégane is likely to disappear not too long after its pure-electric successor arrives, but the E-Tech powertrain is set to become a mainstay of the Renault – and perhaps Dacia – line-up, so it’s worth taking a closer look.The Mégane line-up at a glanceNot too long ago, Renault offered the Mégane with a range of petrol and diesel engines, and automatic and manual gearboxes, but the plug-in hybrid is now the only option.You don’t get much more choice of trim level. There is the base Iconic and RS Line, the latter adding bigger wheels, sporty styling, automatic emergency braking, a larger touchscreen, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking, a leather steering wheel and the options of heated leather seats and the eCall emergency call system.