Sometimes, at least those who define themselves as passionate about engines, have imagined (or dreamed) how it could be to drive a Formula One, the best performing cars in the world on the track. And many times we have heard of the transfer of technology from that world to “normal” cars, but not always with tangible results. Renault instead puts in black and white how much its experience in the racing world is not an end in itself, but also has repercussions on the world of series production. So much so that it has created an entire range that derives its main benefits from the activity of the Formula One team. It’s called E-Tech and defines three lines of models: the Clio, the Captur minivan and the Megane. Three different cars, intended for an audience that has different needs. A heterogeneity that makes the made in F1 technique its meeting point. This engineering from the track to the road is evident in the gearbox and in the choice of combining two electric motors with their respective versions. Yes, because when it comes to E-Tech it is in the logic of today’s needs that the reference is to electrified cars: the Clio is full-hybrid, while Captur and Megane are both plug-in hybrids. An electric motor, which is also the one that physically provides traction when the car moves in the EV mode (practically zero emissions) is located in the gearbox area. The other instead replaces the alternator and in fact works closely with the gearbox, with which it has a “symbiotic” relationship and for which synchronizers were not necessary. A pattern that derives precisely from that used on the Renault single-seaters in Formula One.
The thermal component, i.e. the internal combustion engine, is made up of a 1.6-liter four-cylinder petrol engine. The total power on Clio is 140 hp, while on Captur and Megane it is 160. What changes is the part that refers to the battery. Which on the compact Clio has a capacity of 1.2 kWh, just enough for a handful of kilometers in electric, but functional to recharge quickly during the deceleration phases, or when the thermal engine is running. While on Captur and Mégane the capacity passes 9.8 kWh, just enough to travel in the EV mode up to 65 km (at a maximum speed of 135 km / h). On Clio the battery pack is positioned under the load platform, while on the other two cars of the E-Tech group, being the larger battery, it was decided to place them under the rear seat. This allowed in all three cases to maintain the load and habitability characteristics almost unchanged. Speaking of what hasn’t changed, also the aesthetic aspect of the cars in question, both inside and out. Exceptions are the E-Tech identification badges and some screens of the infotainment system dedicated to hybrid traction, with which it is possible to view the flow of energy.
Of the above trio, the Clio is the one that has impressed us most of all. Thanks also to the lower weight compared to the two “rivals” at home, it showed a snap and a quick response almost as a compact sport. While the advent of the new gearbox, called multi-mode, has hit the mark when it comes to efficiency and comfort, almost imperceptible in its operation. The idea is that of a car suitable for driving in the city, but with the right attitude to move outside the city walls. Captur and Megane, although at the engine and transmission level have the same solution, have revealed a much greater weight (larger battery pack) which has penalized in part their agility.
Prices start at € 21,950 for the new Clio Hybrid (Zen version) and € 32,950 for Captur Plug-in Hybrid (Intens version). The cars will be in dealership from the end of July, but the actual marketing will start in September. While the new Megane Plug-in Hybrid will open orders during the summer and will be marketed in the fall.
July 15, 2020 (change July 15, 2020 | 2:05 pm)
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