Renault has hit back at the soft publicity garnered by Honda and the RAC Foundation this week, as they punted the notion that the UK’s drivers don’t understand greener cars — and so they should be buying more Honda hybrids (see story link below).

Renault argues that Honda and Toyota’s hybrid cars work by offering two power units — one petrol and one electric. Petrol engines are less efficient than diesel engines which are not popular in their home country of Japan so by mating a small electric motor to a small petrol engine they can improve the environmental performance of their car.

In Europe however, many years of diesel engine development has seen turbochargers and common rail injection improve the efficiency of diesel engines to the point where a petrol/electric hybrid offers no advantage, said Renault. On the other hand, the cost and complexity of having two power units adds to both the price and servicing costs.

Economy and performance

Renault’s splenetic statement continues: So what about the reason for the hybrid’s existence – lower fuel consumption due to its electric power? Well actually it’s only making up for is the less efficient petrol engine so the official combined fuel economy of the Mégane dCi 86 is 62.8 mpg and the dCi 106 is 60.1mpg compared to 61.4mpg for the Civic and 65.7mpg for the Prius.

So although we are talking about being “green” here, does the Mégane’s performance suffer by having “only one engine”? Not at all. The Mégane dCi 86 and 106 dCi have a top speed of 108mph and 115mph respectively and 0-62mph times of 12.7 seconds and 11.1 seconds compared to the Civics’ top speed of 115mph and 0-62mph time of 12.1seconds and a top speed of 106 mph and 0-62mph time of 10.9 seconds for the Prius.

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