First DriveFacelifted range-topping Mégane features revised styling and tweaked chassis, but ergonomic flaws and a substantial price tag dent its overall appeal
First DriveFacelifted Megane remains a hard sell, but makes a refreshingly sporty fleet car
What is it?
This is the Renault Megane Sport Tourer, which most people would refer to as an estate. It’s the fifth Megane derivative to go on sale, after the hatch, coupe, Grand Scenic and Scenic.
The Sport Tourer is 62mm longer than the hatch, and Renault is hoping it will lure potential Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra buyers away thanks to its combination of space, practicality and good looks.
Buyers face a dizzying array of 21 engine and trim combinations. We tried the 158bhp 2.0 litre dCi 160, which is the most powerful diesel in the range, and the Dynamique trim level. Unfortunately this combination won’t go on sale in the UK – but the two will be available separately.
What’s it like?
No matter how hard Renault tries to get away from the fuddy-duddy associations of the estate name by calling this the Sport Tourer, it still has to be judged by the same standards. First and foremost that means trying to lure buyers looking for space and practicality.
Those 62mm over the hatch have been used well. There’s lots of knee room for rear-seat passengers and the boot opens out to an impressive 1600 litres. The front passenger seat also folds forward to open load length up to an impressive 2.55 metres – good enough for most DIY needs.
Opening up this space isn’t entirely practical, though. To fold the rear seats back you first have to flip up the seat bases (and make room for them by pushing the front seats forward), and the space you are then left with has a step in it that dents usability.
The interior of the car is pleasant, without being dazzling. The materials and dash layout are simple and effective, the range of adjustments good for any size or shape of driver and the array and type of storage areas impressive.
However, no matter how comfortable the driver, it’s still tricky to see out the back thanks to the sloping roofline and thick rear pillars. If the headrests are up, this problem becomes even worse.
Cabin comfort is also dented by slight wind and road noise, the latter in particular rising to the point of being irritating as the road quality deteriorates. The ride and handling are adequate at all times, but never stand out as being anything better than average.
The 158bhp 2.0-litre unit is the most powerful diesel in the range and, while it’s clear it would cope with a fully-laden car comfortably, it always feels punchy rather than fast. It also sounds a little gruff if you work it hard. Its economy and emissions figures should mean it doesn’t cost a lot to run, though.
Dynamique is the second trim level up, and adds £1600-£1700 to the price of the base car. Extra kit includes 16-inch sport wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, Bluetooth and MP3 connections, a leather steering wheel, front fog lights, a hands-free key card and cruise control.
Should I buy one?
Maybe. The Renault Megane Sport Tourer is a reasonable car at reasonable money. It carries a £950 premium over the hatch, and that makes it around £500 less or more than comparable models from the rival Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra ranges, depending what level you go for. However, it does have the benefit of being newer than these rivals, and if you can live with the compromises and shortcomings, it could be the car for you.