The Renault Megane hatch has already trumped many of its rivals, thanks to its blend of efficient engines, cosseting ride and flamboyant cabin design. Now there’s a much more practical Sport Tourer estate version, and we’ve tested it in the UK.
It’s available with a range of petrol and diesel engines from launch, including the warmed-up GT version that’s been tweaked by Renault Sport. But here we’ve tried the much more sensible 1.6-litre diesel with 128bhp. It’s the one many buyers will go for, and it’s easy to see why: it claims impressive fuel economy of 70.6 mpg, while low CO2 emissions of 104g/km mean road tax is cheap as well.
The 1.6-litre diesel is punchy, too, with the 320Nm of torque coming through low enough in the rev range that it’s a relaxing car to drive. It’s a bit rattly, like most four-cylinder diesels, but that’s the only real criticism as it has plenty of shove and settles down nicely at cruising speeds.
The six-speed manual gearbox isn’t as slick as transmissions in rivals such as the SEAT Leon ST or Skoda Octavia Estate, but it’s still pleasant enough to use and the clutch pedal isn’t too heavy, either.
Light steering lets the Megane down in corners. But families will be pleased by generous safety kit, with auto braking coming as standard
Light steering is a bit numb around the centre, which takes the edge off the driving experience, and the chassis isn’t as composed as a Ford Focus Estate’s in corners; the Megane is set up to deliver a safe and composed drive, which it does really well. Various modes mean you can choose the weight of the steering, but they don’t bring big differences – the normal setting is fine for all types of driving.
What will matter for more people, though, is the ride, and on a mix of UK roads, we found the Megane to be pretty comfortable. The driving position and plush seats mean most drivers will find it easy to set the car up to suit them, while the chassis is clearly matched with other cars in its class for comfort. The cabin plays a big part in that, too, as the newcomer feels much more upmarket inside than the old Megane.
You get a portrait-orientated touchscreen on higher-spec cars like our Dynamique S. The display could be more responsive, but it looks good and has customisable features that make it feel right up to date. The whole dash, in tact, is excellent, and we’d consider it one of the best interiors in its class.
Good-quality materials are used throughout the cabin, and while there are some harder plastics in places it’s not a major concern fora family estate like this. There’s plenty of space up front and in the back, while leg and headroom are generous wherever you’re sitting.
The really important thing about any estate car, though, is the boot, and at 521 litres, it’s significantly bigger than the 384-litre load bay in the Megane hatchback. It can’t quite match the 587-litre space in the Leon ST, though, and the Octavia Estate beats both cars with 610 litres. However, while the Renault traits a tittle on carrying capacity, it certainly boasts a pretty face and we suspect that many buyers will be interested in the Megane Sport Tourer for just that reason; it’s up there with the best-looking family estates. The stylish headlights and tail-lamps add some drama to both ends of the car, while the grille and oversized Renault badge mean the front end is particularly distinctive.
Our Dynamique Nav has sat-nav, plus dual-zone climate control. That’s on top of Expression+ models’ air- con, daytime running lights and alloys
That’s not to say the Sport Tourer isn’t a practical car, though, as the boot is easy to access and the seats fold down into a flat load bay. Sliding in longer items is made easier still by the low loading lip, too. Still, if it’s room you need over anything else then you’ll have to look elsewhere; with the seats folded, the Renault’s 1,504-litre space isn’t a match for the Skoda’s 1,740-litre bay.
With Renault’s four-year/100,000-mile warranty, a five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP and tech such as adaptive cruise control and hands-free parking on the options list, there are plenty of reasons why the Renault is well worth a look, though.
NEED TO KNOW
A range of driving modes means you can vary the weight of the car’s steering, but six-speed box’s vague shifts take away from the fun
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Top speed: 123mph
CO2: 104g/km (est)
On sale: Now
As handsome, comfortable and efficient family estate cars go, the Megane Sport Tourer is right up there with the best. This dCi 130 model promises fuel economy in excess of 70mpg, while the interior is plush and comfortable. The compliant ride means it makes a great all-round family car as well. However, it’s not as spacious as its main rivals, which could be a sticking point for quite a lot of potential buyers.