Renault presented its first EV in the C-segment this week. The Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric is on a new platform specially developed for EVs, but still has front-wheel drive. Renault is happy to explain why it has chosen this somewhat unusual arrangement.
If an EV is on a platform specially developed for EVs, it is usually a rear-wheel drive car. That started with Tesla, but was followed by BMW (i3), Volkswagen (ID models), Honda (E) and Hyundai (Ioniq 5, Kia EV6), among others. This layout prevents drive reactions in the steering wheel, provides more grip and often a smaller turning circle, because the front wheels can steer further. There are plenty of front-wheel drive EVs, but these are almost always models that also come with an internal combustion engine. These cars are therefore not on a platform intended purely for EVs.
However, Renault and Nissan are taking a different course with their new EV base. When asked, Renault underlines that the CMF-EV platform of the Nissan Ariya and Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric is completely new, and has been specially developed for EVs. The battery pack of both types therefore fits seamlessly into the ground, yet the electric motor rests on the front axle. According to Renault, this has two important advantages: weight savings and space. By putting all drive components in the nose, wherever the operation takes place, the entire drivetrain is exceptionally compact and light, according to its makers. By the way, this is also why the charging port is located in the front screen: close to the target, so fewer cables are required. Renault states that this arrangement makes the Mégane about 100 kg lighter than a comparable competitor. Then it depends on which competitor is compared, but with 1,640 kg, the Mégane is indeed not heavy for an EV.
The space part is a bit more measurable and also seems more logical. It is actually very simple: there is no electric motor under the luggage compartment floor and that provides more luggage space. Indeed, the floor of the Mégane E-tech cargo hold is clearly lower than in, for example, an ID3. With a promised 440 liters, it is also more spacious than the VW (385) and just as spacious as a regular Mégane, which is clearly longer. The downside is that the nose is fuller than with a rear-wheel drive, because here now, in addition to the air conditioning unit, the complete powertrain must also be hidden. The electric Renault therefore has a more traditional-looking front with a clearly distinguishable hood, although the electric Mégane is still quite spacious given its length. Logical, because an electric motor is much smaller than a comparable combustion engine.
Due to that compact power source, the electric Mégane still has a small turning circle, according to Renault. There is simply less between the front wheels and that opportunity has been used by making the wheel arches and steering angle larger than with a conventionally powered car. With a maximum of 218 hp, the problem of grip loss and drive reactions in the steering wheel may still be quite manageable, but that could cause problems for a possible faster variant. Renault says it is considering such a faster version and also promises that CMF-EV is suitable for four-wheel drive. In that case, an electric motor is still placed at the rear axle, but always in collaboration with a copy in the front.
Direct and involved
Although no one outside Renault has yet driven the Mégane E-Tech Electric, the manufacturer promises that the car will drive like the proverbial kart. The model has very direct steering and excellent road holding, thanks in part to a low center of gravity and an advanced multi-link rear suspension. A deliberate choice has been made (of course) for a pronounced dynamic driving behaviour, because buyers in the C-segment want that, according to research. According to Renault’s research, this clientele has an above-average interest in cars and driving and would therefore like to be involved in that driving.
Of course, the CMF-EV platform is modular, but there are limits, partly thanks to the battery pack. The technical basis is suitable for models from about 4.20 meters and that is roughly the size of the Mégane E-Tech. It can be stretched to a maximum of 4.70 meters, with the Ariya coming pretty close at 4.60 meters. The width can be varied between 1.75 and 1.90 metres.