PARIS - With strict new emissions laws coming into place in the European Union, plug-in hybrids are starting to make a lot more sense for those that want to commute on electricity but without losing the freedom to drive longer distances when the need arises.
Not surprisingly, this form of propulsion is filtering down to the more compact end of the market, and this is where Renault is hoping to find some momentum with the new E-Tech plug-in hybrid version of the Captur compact SUV, which is also being joined by a conventional hybrid version of the new Clio hatchback.
The Captur’s drivetrain pairs a new-generation and specially adapted 1.6-litre normally aspirated engine to a pair of electric motors, one being a high-voltage starter generator and the other taking the form of a multi-mode clutchless gearbox.
The system is fed by a 9.8 kWh, 400V battery that is said to allow a range of 48km on electric power alone, as long as the driver doesn’t exceed 137km/h, in which case the petrol engine will kick in.
The vehicle has various driving modes, including a ‘Pure’ setting that draws the full power from both the petrol and electric motors when maximum performance is needed. There’s also an E-Save mode to that allows battery power to be saved if the later part of the journey is in a city centre, where petrol engines are at their least efficient.