Usually, it’s Renault’s wonderful hot hatches that boast ridiculously lengthy names, but this new Renault Megane Sport Tourer Dynamique TomTom Energy dCi 110 Stop & Start is on another level. Baffled by the moniker mouthful? It’s the second-from-top-dog in the refreshed Megane Sport Tourer kennel, which, along with the entire Megane family, has been refreshed for 2014.
What’s new about the 2014 Renault Megane?
The car’s nose has been restyled with sharper-looking projector headlights, LED running lights, and an unmissable Renault badge in the style of the new Clio’s bold nose. This is a facelift in the truest sense of the word – there are no other exterior tweaks save for the new ‘face’, but it’s an effective, sophisticated makeover, doing plenty to modernise the look of the somewhat vacant expression upon the previous iteration.
Why would I buy the Renault Megane estate?
That’s Sport Tourer, to you. Clearly, it’s all about the bootspace – the Sport Tourer offers 524 litres with all five seats in place, or 1600 litres with the rearmost backrests folded. By no means is it pokey, then – and there is a tangible increase in capacity from the 372-litre/1129-litre hatchback.
However, the Renault is far from the biggest in its class. It’s trumped by the Golf Estate, Skoda Octavia Estate, and new Honda Civic Tourer – though its seats-down capacity beats the Leon ST’s, and the Frenchie soundly thrashes the ageing Ford Focus Estate and recently facelifted Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer in either configuration. It’ll just about hold its own for recycling centre bragging rights, then – and it’s better value than the VW Group cars too.
What’s the spec?
Below only sportier ‘GT-line’ trim, our Dynamique test car is one rung from the top of Renault’s spec ladder. Equipment is plentiful, as you’d expect – you get six airbags, cruise control, Bluetooth, keyless entry and engine-start, automatic climate control, 16in alloys, sat-nav, heated electric mirrors, electric windows … everything save for heated leather seats with electric adjustment, really.
Our test car wore a few choice options, and they’re worth considering. Visibility through the Sport Tourer’s rakish back window isn’t the car’s strongest suit, so parking sensors and a crystal-clear reversing camera from the £400 ‘parking pack’ make for money well spent.
Newly available in the 2014 facelifted Megane is the optional (£300) ‘R-link’ infotainment centre, which supports downloadable apps and smartphone integration. From our previous exposure to R-link in the new Clio and Captur, we know it to be one of the best mainstream interfaces around, capable of embarrassing the clunky touchscreens systems in current Jaguars, Land Rovers and especially Peugeot’s 208 for usability and downright attractiveness.
Except, the tweaked Megane is far from the best showcase for R-link. It’s been shoehorned into the Megane’s solid if plasticky dashboard halfway through its life cycle. Touchscreen support remains, but it’s a right old stretch to prod the display, mired in the middle-distance of the dash.
So, you’ll resort to the button and joystick controls perched on the centre tunnel – for a grand total of thirty seconds. That’s all the time it takes to be frustrated by the fiddly layout of the shortcut toggles which encircle the cheap-feeling stick. Unlike BMW’s iDrive panel, the shortcut buttons are all flush-fitted, so it takes a Vegas card-counter’s memory and the hand dexterity of heart surgeon to operate the Renault’s panel while driving. R-link is a £300 option, not in the finest of form here. Fingers crossed the all-new Megane will integrate its impressive infotainment system more ergonomically.
And the price?
The wagon-backed Megane, which starts at £17,745, costs £1000 more than the five-door hatchback Megane. While that makes the sums a doddle, there’s only an £825 premium for the Seat Leon ST over its hatch version, while there’s only a £745 premium between a five-door Golf and the Estate.
Hold on though. The base price for our test car is £20,245. A similarly kitted-out VW Golf Estate sets you back upwards of £23,150, a likewise Ford Focus Estate £22,045. And the Renault is no poor relation from behind the wheel, either.
Has Renault finally sprinkled some RS fairydust on its cooking models?
Regular Meganes aren’t in the same dynamic chapter, yet alone on the same page, as the hilarious Renaultsport 265 hot hatch. Nevertheless, there is enjoyment to be had here. The electric power steering has a consistent weight and reassuring feedback, and the Megane turns in just as keenly as its MQB-chassied opposition from the VW Group. That’s the impressively light 1302kg kerbweight at work – the Megane Sports Tourer is one of the lightest cars in its class, dieting harder the new Golf wagon and its cousins, not to mention its key rivals from Ford, Vauxhall, and the Koreans.
Shunning the flab also pays dividends for the motive power. Our test car’s 1.5-litre turbodiesel is related to the Dacia’s 1.5 derv – but here it offers 109bhp and 192lb ft. It’s capable of a good turn of pace when required, but economy is very disappointing. The obscene official figures from lab-testing is 80.7mpg. Our test car never achieved better than 40mpg, albeit spending a lot of time in traffic. But isn’t the point of stop-start to minimise wastage while stuck in a jam?
While Renault’s estate offering doesn’t hold the must-have desirability of its newer VW Group rivals – or the latest batch of crossover talent – it’s a pleasingly honest machine, and priced low enough you might just give its handsomely reworked face a second look. The Sports Tourer deserves it.