Top Gear Insights From Renault EOLAB Test Drive

3 years ago by Mark Kane 31

Renault EOLAB

Renault EOLAB

Renault EOLAB

Renault EOLAB

Top Gear recently had the exclusive opportunity to test drive the new Renault EOLAB, which will be presented early next month at the Paris Motor Show.

As it turns out, this is not concept car that  barely goes, but rather a fully functional prototype. It seems that Renault is seriously considering plug-in hybrids and, according to Top Gear, a plug-in Clio could enter market around 2018.

The electric range of this prototype is up to 40 miles and top speed is 100 mph. Acceleration from 0 to 62 mph takes 9.0 seconds.

“It always moves away electrically. It’s silent, smooth, responsive and as clean-feeling as EVs always are. Then the petrol engine starts at about 25mph. Because you’re already rolling, it chugs to life unobtrusively. Whatever you do with the accelerator, it stays running as long as you don’t drop below that speed.”

Transmission?

“The patent transmission has just three gear ratios and no clutch. One gear set is driven by the engine, the other two by the e-motor, and they’re brought into use in various combinations. This means the car can effectively change gear between four ‘gears’ (not just three) with the engine running, and the engineers say it should feel as smooth as a double-clutch. At the moment it doesn’t – there’s a notable pause, like an early single-clutch flappy-paddle. Anyway, it’s a lively enough little car, and easily feels like it can make the claimed 0-62 in 9.0 seconds.”

How it drives?

“It can be chucked into bends without a care, and finds about as much grip as a decent supermini, despite the skinny aero tyres. Again, that’s its lightness paying off. It rolls a bit but you feel quite racy sat down low. The power steering feels unnatural going gently but actually gets livelier when you’re cornering hard, so the fundamentals are right.”

“Like any energy-conscious hybrid, the Eolab harvests energy by electric regeneration when you brake. The pedal isn’t mechanically linked to the brakes, so the blending of regeneration and friction is determined by computer. The pedal needs more calibration: it’s grabby. But it stops you.

“We got to the test laps via a potholed farm track. Which went to prove the ride is supple and the body feels impressively tight and rigid.”

“But the main thing is, it drives like a normal car. It looks rather better than that. If this is the supermini of the next generation, we’re in.”

Z.E. Hybrid Powertrain:

  • 1.0-litre 3-cylinder 57kW (75hp) and peak torque of 95Nm SCe petrol engine
  • 50 kW and peak torque 200 Nm electric motor
  • 6.7 kWh battery for some 65 km / 40 miles in NEDC
Renault EOLAB

Renault EOLAB

Top Gear

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31 responses to "Top Gear Insights From Renault EOLAB Test Drive"

  1. DaveMart says:

    This is in ‘weekend mode’ which allows the petrol engine to cut in when it feels like it.

    You can of course tell it to stay in EV mode.

    I like the sound of the design, which even used the traditional rough road test for French cars, with none of this rides like a bicycle with square wheels on anything which is not as smooth as an Autobahn typical not only of German cars but their copiers.

    Legend has it that the original Citroen 2CV was designed so that farmers could ride over ploughed fields without hitting their ‘chapeau’ on the roof!

    Cor blimey!
    Clarkson in a beret!

  2. Warren says:

    BMW had better come out with an aero coupe version of the i3 Rex, or they are toast.

  3. GeorgeS says:

    “The patent transmission has just three gear ratios and no clutch. One gear set is driven by the engine, the other two by the e-motor, and they’re brought into use in various combinations.”

    That sounds interesting!

    probably never see this car in the US though.

    1. kdawg says:

      Especially w/out side mirrors.

      1. Josh says:

        Have you heard any update on the side mirror ruling?

        We can’t be more than a couple years away from those getting dropped. Any chance they could sneak it in with the rear camera requirement?

        1. kdawg says:

          No.. but i’m not going to hold my breath either. AFAIK, it won’t be removed for 100 years, even though Tesla says they’re “working on it”.

  4. pjwood says:

    “6.7 kWh battery for some 65 km / 40 miles in NEDC”

    It would be impressive, if they could get over 15 miles of EPA range, with 6.7kwh. That “40” figure must include some engine, regardless of it being the lofty NEDC method?

    1. DaveMart says:

      Probably around 25 miles on the EPA, enough for most European commutes.

      It won’t include engagement of the petrol engine, EV only can be specified by the driver.

    2. Alonso Perez says:

      +1

      No way this is a 40 mile EV. 20 on the EPA cycle, 50 km on the ridiculous NDEC cycle.

      I think of this class of car as a hybrid+, not an EV. The Volt sets the standard for a minimum EV only range.

      1. DaveMart says:

        If the EV range is enough to do your routine commuting, in what way is that inadequate?

        This car gets way more than a Volt if you go on a run, so you just have to make sure that you have specified your commuting range correctly.

        Paying for and carrying around too much battery power and weight is as wasteful as too little.

    3. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      Those are fantasy numbers.

      6.7kWh with 20% set aside to prevent deep cycle/over/undercharging =~ 5.4kWh

      5.4kWh real-world in a Volt = ~18mi.

      Powertrain in this is inferior to Volt’s, though the range extender _might_ be better.

      1. DaveMart says:

        Volt weight 3786 lbs, 1721kgs

        http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car/specs/dimensions.html

        Eolab 955kgs

        That is before you start considering aerodynamic efficiency and drive train
        efficiency.

        So why is ~25 miles on the EPA fantasy?

        1. DaveMart says:

          1721 kgs divided by 955 kgs = 1.8

          Your 18 miles times 1.8 = 32 miles on the EPA.

          Except of course that other factors as well as weight come into play.

          It does serve to show though that your estimate of EV range is unrealistic, and that one can expect at least the EV range of 25 miles that I gave, and likely more like 28 miles on the EPA as EV range.

          1. cmina says:

            From the Top Gear article: “It weighs a staggering 250kg less than a Clio”
            &
            http://www.clioiv.com/downloads/tech.pdf
            Kerb weight (kg) from 980 to 1071

            > Eolab could weigh from 730 to 821kg (1609 to 1809lb)

      2. David Murray says:

        I assumed the 6.7 is the usable capacity.

        1. Josh says:

          Most companies quote the total battery size (LEAF, Volt, Model S, etc.), not the usable quantity. Even the US tax rebate is based on total size not usable size (good thing for the Volt).

  5. Me says:

    The combined hp is still less than the pure EV 111 kw of the Volt. So when the usable portion of the 6.7 kwh battery runs out it only runs on the 75 hp ICE? The Prius has 110 hp and certainly isn’t the fastest car on the highway.

    1. Me says:

      I forgot of course that for short bursts the battery would have just enough stored from regen for the electric motor to assist. Driving at highway speeds where grades and passing are involved would be the issue.

    2. DaveMart says:

      You would have to be driving like a nail to find that out.
      If you are going on a run, you would make sure that you do not allow the battery to deplete first.
      Alternatively, you could let the car manage what power source you use, and you would be fine that way too.

      It is a bit like saying that you would not go very fast if you did not change out of first gear in a manual car.

      True enough, but if you know how to drive at all you don’t do that.

  6. poupou33 says:

    10,3 kWh/100 km isn’t very impressive. Zoe with a much heavier body allready does 10,5… But it´s a really interesting car. Good Job Renault!

    1. DaveMart says:

      Interesting.

      I’d assume that this is because the Zoe is pure electric, and this will need to keep some of the battery in reserve to enable it to operate on petrol when the battery is low.

      Anyone more knowledgeable than I who can offer insight?

      1. Poupou33 says:

        What demonstrates that heavy weight is an enemy for petrol car but not so much for good regenerative EV. My best result with zoe is 10,6 kWh/100 km over 125 miles… Sorry for my poor english 😉

  7. Surya says:

    A plugin Clio would make total sense.

    1. DaveMart says:

      That is exactly what it is, a preview of a PHEV Clio.

      For Americans who don’t know that car, unsurprisingly, that is not a premium car but in the same class as a Ford Fiesta, so the engineering has to be economic and not fanciful, which is why this is interesting.

  8. DaveMart says:

    For Americans who are thinking: ‘So what? It won’t come to the States.’

    this gives a good idea of what any B-Segment PHEV in Europe will be like, regardless of manufacturer, as they are obviously in competition.

    So Ford, GM, VW etc all have to match up against this.

    VW could easily make a PHEV version of the Up if they chose, and are continually working on lightweighting.
    That won’t go to the States however, and the smallest VW you will see is the C-Class Golf

    I doubt GM will want to build anything in a class below the Volt, also a C-Class.

    So Ford with the Fiesta is probably the best hope you have to see something similar, although I would imagine that they would want to increase the acceleration a bit even if that means a bit less fuel economy for sale in the States.

    Nissan could of course build a version of this.

    Their engineers seem allergic to taking cues from their colleagues at Renault though, so I imagine if they do it will have a very different approach.

    1. Josh says:

      The engineers always seem partial to tailor the design to their home market. I think you see this with LEAF (range, thermal management), Model S (size), Volt (AER based on US commute, EREV for distance trips), and i3 (size, range, REx for limited additional range).

      It is probably just a function of what they experience themselves and understand better. It is good for creating a variety of plug-in styles. There isn’t one size, price, range that will make all people happy.

      1. DaveMart says:

        The maligned Toyota PIP falls into that category, with much talk of its ‘hopelessly inadequate’ AER.

        Inadequate for where?

        For many in the US, sure, although maybe not for retirees.

        For Europe it is maybe a bit tight, but might be the very thing for Japan and possibly China.

        Its rather like comments that the Leaf was hopeless, as it did not allow people to drive far on their ranches in Wyoming.

    2. nero says:

      Vw has e-up for a quiet long so they don’t need to develop anything like that again. And ampera/volt is discontinued in Europe by 2016.
      C segment is not very popular between young people here in uk, so it’s going to be less and less c segment cars.
      I’m having Peugeot iOn which looks small, but it has plenty of space and legroom, headroom for 4 adults+ more than 300 liters boot space.

  9. cmina says:

    From the Top Gear article: “It weighs a staggering 250kg less than a Clio”
    &
    http://www.clioiv.com/downloads/tech.pdf
    Kerb weight (kg) from 980 to 1071

    > Eolab could weigh from 730 to 821kg (1609 to 1809lb)

  10. cmina says:

    I’ve just read the other article (Total weight = 955kg); sorry for the spam.

    “EOLAB’s weight is around 400kg lighter than that of a B-segment hatchback like the Clio IV”
    .. sure it is ..

    1. DaveMart says:

      I can only imagine that they took a similarly equipped Clio IV and added on the weight of the batteries etc to come out with an estimate of what a present generation Clio would weigh if it were a PHEV, and derived their 400kgs weight saving from that.

      Not the way to lay out the figures, I would agree.
      It sounds to me as though the innumerate hand of Renault PR took over and drafted the presser and produced the video.