"The Renault Megane Sport Tourer isn’t overly sporty. This is an estate that's first and foremost practical and comfortable."
The Renault Megane Sport Tourer is an affordable, practical family estate car. It may not be quite as grand as its name suggests, but it looks attractive and offers a comfortable driving experience with the added space that estate dimensions bring to any car. On space alone, it easily rivals the likes of the Volkswagen Golf estate and Ford Focus estate. With its light-yet-accurate steering, it drives nicely enough, but its real appeal lies in the comfort offered by its smooth suspension set-up. The range of engines on offer has been reduced in recent years to six engines, with various manual and automatic gearbox combinations. The diesel engines are the best choice, with all of them bar the cheapest 1.5 dCi 86 model offering plenty of performance, even with the boot stacked full of luggage. It comes in three specifications – the entry-level Expression+, mid-range Dynamique TomTom and the top-of-the-range GT Line TomTom. Sporty GT Line models do look smart and are more fun to drive, but the firmer suspension does somewhat spoil its appeal as a family car.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
One word – diesels. The dCi 110 diesel equipped with stop-start to further boost fuel economy offers the cheapest running costs in the Megane estate range, returning an excellent 81mpg in fuel consumption and emitting only 90/km of CO2 – which makes it exempt from road tax. By comparison, the 110bhp 1.6-litre petrol can only manage to return a significantly lower 41mpg. Servicing and insurance costs should also be reasonably affordable, so the Megane Sport Tourer genuinely does offer a good combination of style, comfort and affordability.
Interior & comfort
It may not be the most fun car to drive, but the Megane estate is easily one of the most comfortable small estates that you can buy right now. There's loads of leg and headroom, up front and in the back, while the seats themselves are comfy and supportive, too. The GT Line car comes with tighter-fitting seats that are designed to clamp you more firmly in place for a faster drive. Generally, interior comfort is as excellent as the ride, with all wind, road and engine noise kept to a minimum, making it a very calm car indeed.
Practicality & boot space
With the back seats in place, the Megane Sport Tourer offers 524 litres of space, while also having a secure storage compartment hidden away under a false boot floor, which is ideal for storing any valuable out of sight of prying eyes. If you fold the rear seats flat, the boot capacity expands to 1,567 litres of space, which about on par with the Ford Focus and VW Golf estates, but is dwarfed by the frankly enormous 2,149 litres offered by the class-leading Peugeot 308 SW. Inside, rear passengers do get lots of space, with plenty of leg, shoulder and headroom for three adults to fit comfortably. There are also lots of storage cubbies and cup-holders dotted around for easy family use.
Reliability & safety
Renault may well have had a poor reputation for quality and reliability over recent years, but it was one of the most improved manufacturers in the 2013 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, rising six places in the manufacturers rankings to place 21st – beating Citroen and Ford in the process. In line with this improvement, the current Megane is something of a revelation. It may have dropped from its original fifth place in the top 100 cars in the 2010 poll, but it actually climbed back up 11 places to rank 20th in 2013. This kind of improvement is rare. Meanwhile, Renault rightly prides itself on the safety record of its cars, and the Sport Tourer is no exception, achieving the full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, with a full range of airbags, electronic stability control and ISOFIX child-seat anchor points fitted as standard across the range.
Engines, drive & performance
The use of the word ‘Sport’ in its name is a bit a misleading, because the Megane estate is, in fact, a very comfortable cruiser rather than a peppy performance model. The sportier GT Line model does offer a bit more power, but at the expense of its key appeal to families. When driven at higher speeds, the Megane isn’t as controlled as many of its rivals, and winding, undulating roads prove particularly taxing. It does have light steering and a smooth, easy-to-use gearbox, while the engines are generally powerful and quiet, too. We’d recommend steering clear of the cheapest 1.5 dCi diesel and 1.6-litre petrol engines, especially if you intend to use this car as a real workhorse, as they are simply not powerful enough for dealing with a fully loaded family car.
Price, value for money & options
You’ll find a decent level of equipment across the whole Megane estate range, with even the cheapest Expression+ spec offering a reasonable amount of accessories. All cars get air-conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity, and if you fork out a little extra cash on a Dynamique TomTom version, you’ll also get lots more luxuries, including automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, cruise control, LED daytime running lights and sat-nav. Overall, the Sport Tourer keeps pace with the Golf estate and Peugeot 308 SW on list price, but you may find the Skoda Octavia estate offers better value for money. Plus, Renault's offer a mixed bag in terms of resale value on the used car market.