Remember the Renault Zoe e-Sport? A 460bhp four-wheel-drive electric hot hatch, it was a show-stopping concept made to prove EVs can be fun but seemingly without much production plausibility.
Or so we thought. Renault has a history of sense-defying hot hatches; the 5 Turbo and Clio V6, all mid-engined and scary to drive, prove that. You could argue that selling a two-seat Megane for 70 grand is bordering on doolally, too.
Well, the Zoe e-Sport – or something along the same lines – isn’t dead yet, according to Renault’s electric vehicles chief Gilles Normand.
“The e-Sport was more to test the water, to show that you can EVs are not boring,” he told Top Gear at the Frankfurt motor show. “It was a communication tool that hit its purpose very well. The reaction was very strong. People were telling me ‘we are interested, can you do something like this?’
“We have not yet come to a conclusion but it did click in my head that the reception to this concept was so positive, and some of our competitors have identified some window of business for something like this.”
Given Renault Sport’s history of very extreme, limited-run hatches, we suggest the capability already exists within the company to get some e-Sports onto the road.
“Exactly,” says Normand. “We are working always with Renault Sport and they are connected with the Formula 1 team getting all the technologies. The bridges in our company are very open.
“Renault Sport represents the ultimate performance car, so how you are able to deliver this with an EV, especially with the current battery chemistry, is the issue.
“We are working on the next battery generation, solid-state batteries, and they can answer a lot of questions we have about ultimate performance cars. Especially when it comes to durability at an affordable price point.
“Technically we are starting to have some ideas but we have not yet been able to find a good optimum point between all these challenges at a reasonable price proposal.”
It’s more than a glimmer of hope, though. And given Renault Sport insiders told us the Trophy R arrived so early in the current Megane’s life cycle so it could launch before emissions regulations get ever tighter, plug-in power may well arrive in hot hatchbacks sooner than we think.