More and more Renault models are getting a (partially) electric drive, under the name E-Tech. The successful Clio also gets a hybrid powertrain. Is that what? Time to hit the road.
In the fight for lower CO2 emissions in the range of models, Renault presents a new label: E-Tech. This includes all hybrid models of the brand, both the ‘regular’ and plug-in hybrids. This summer, the French brand will kick off with three models: the Clio, Captur and Mégane Estate will be the first to receive an E-Tech powertrain.
The E-Tech powertrain
Enough background, time to delve deeper into the technology of the Clio E-Tech. That is not a plug-in hybrid, but a ‘normal’ hybrid with a self-charging powertrain. The new E-Tech powertrain consists of a petrol and electric motor. The car always starts with the electric motor, regardless of the driving mode. The petrol engine provides support. For extra drive power, to charge the battery or both.
The petrol engine is a completely new four-cylinder engine specially developed for the E-Tech powertrain. The 1.6-litre engine produces 91 hp, the rest of the system power comes from the electric motor. The Clio is below the line 140 hp strong. The plug-in hybrid E-Tech models (Captur and Mégane) are 160 hp strong thanks to the larger battery pack.
The hybrid and plug-in hybrid version of the E-Tech powertrain are basically identical. The only difference is that the plug-in models have a larger battery, which can therefore also be charged externally with a charging cable.
Formula 1 transmission
The transmission is also noteworthy. In terms of technology, it has been taken over almost directly from Formula 1 and works without a clutch. It is also in fact two gearboxes in one: there are four gears for the petrol engine, four for the electric motor and together they form an eight-speed automatic. Due to the lack of the clutch, it shifts very quickly and smoothly.
Clio E-tech Hybrid Blue
The E-Tech models can be recognized externally by the logos and the model-specific rear bumper without visible exhaust. Optionally, the car can be fitted with ‘Hybrid Blue’ accents inside and out. The instruments behind the wheel and the menus of the infotainment system have of course also been adapted to the hybrid powertrain.
Renault Clio E-Tech Hybrid spacious trunk
The Clio as E-Tech does not compromise on practical properties. The compact battery pack is located completely under the luggage compartment. So nothing of the original interior or luggage space is lost. The luggage compartment still measures 300 liters and, if desired, there is still room for a spare wheel.
Renault Clio driver modes
In My Sense mode, the car determines the best drive mode itself. In Eco mode, the car drives as electrically as possible. There is also the Sport mode, of course for when you want full power, for example with a more dynamic driving behaviour. With the physical EV button, you can also let the car drive fully electrically whenever you want, provided there is enough power, of course. Don’t expect large EV distances. That is also not possible with a 1.2 kWh battery pack. For this ride we let the Clio choose itself, in the My Sense mode. Let’s see what that yields.
Peace and quiet prevails on board. When driving away, there is a soft hum of the electric motor, otherwise it is quiet. Even when the petrol engine kicks in, that noise always stays far in the background. Although, around 50 km/h, the petrol engine sometimes ‘hangs’ at an annoyingly humming speed. In general, however, it remained wonderfully quiet on board. The Clio E-Tech can drive fully electrically up to about 70 km/h, above that the petrol engine is active anyway.
The automatic transmission has an extra letter with the E-Tech models: after the PRND there is also a B. That letter stands for the Brake mode. Then the car brakes extra strongly on the electric motor, for maximum energy recovery. In B-mode it is also optimally possible to do the so-called ‘one pedal driving’. The car then brakes so strongly on the (electric) motor that you hardly have to touch the brake pedal.
Once used to it, B mode quickly became our favorite, especially in built-up areas. In addition, it is striking that the Clio in B mode not only slows down strongly, but also means something when accelerating. Admittedly, you only notice the difference if you switch modes during that acceleration.
Practical fuel consumption Renault Clio
The hybrid technology has done its job excellently. During our varied test route of more than forty kilometers, according to the on-board computer, we only used 20 kilometers of range. That equates to an average consumption of 1 to 22.7. That is almost the manufacturer’s specification of 1 to 23.1 and that without doing our best. Neat!
For the new E-Tech models, Renault is also introducing Business versions. These are exclusive to the E-Tech. Renault sees the new hybrid models as the ideal successor to the economical diesels that were so popular on the business market a few years ago. This applies in particular to the plug-in hybrids under the E-Tech label.
Série Limitée E-Tech
To introduce the new powertrain, Renault is also launching the Série Limitée E-Tech based on the Intens trim level. It is positioned between the Intense and R.S. Line in and distinguishes itself with extra (standard) equipment and model-specific accents in the exterior and interior.
Renault Clio E-Tech Hybrid price
Furthermore, the E-Tech powertrain is available in combination with (almost) all existing trim levels. In the case of the Clio, only the entry-level Life cannot be ordered as E-Tech. The regular price list for the E-Tech models starts at 22,990 euros for a Clio Zen E-Tech. The aforementioned Business version is available from 21,890 euros. The Série Limitée E-Tech is listed for 26,990 euros.
For comparison: the general Clio price list starts at 17,490 euros for the Life. The Zen version without E-Tech powertrain is available from 18,590 euros. The E-Tech models can be ordered immediately and will be available at the dealer by the end of this summer.