► Renault Megane Estate tested
► Dynamique S Nav driven…
► …with 1.5-litre diesel
This is the Megane Sport Tourer, Renault’s smart-looking C-segment estate that goes up against Golf, Astra and Focus load luggers.
It also adds a fifth family member to Renault’s UK car range, and is its only estate car – the rest are crossovers or MPV-type things, or the Megane hatchback.
We’re driving it here in top-spec Dynamic S trim with the entry-level ‘110’ 1461cc turbodiesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox. It produces 108bhp and 192lb ft, and promises a pretty solid 76.4mpg and 96g/km CO2. You can’t get a slower or more frugal Megane Sport Tourer than that. It costs £22,350.
More tech details please…
The Sport Tourer is built in Spain along with the Kadjar crossover, and is based on Renault-Nissan’s Common Module Family (CMF). It’s the architecture that also underpins Kadjar, the non-UK Talisman saloon and Espace MPV plus, of course, the Megane hatch.
Compared with the last-generation Sport Tourer, the new car is 20mm lower, 67mm longer, and with a track widened 47mm at the front, 39mm at the rear. It looks longer and lower and wider because it is.
You can choose from two petrols (a 1.2 turbo with 128bhp and the 1.6 turbo with 202bhp) and two turbodiesels (1.5-litre 108bbhp, 1.6-litre 128bhp) and either six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearboxes. The 1.5-litre DCi Hybrid Assist and a 163bhp 1.6-litre twin-turbo dCi are also due later in 2017.
The six trim levels span Expression +, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav, Signature Nav, and GT Line Nav and GT Nav. Prices start from £18,550 and top out at £27,450.
We won’t exhaustively list every feature of every trim level, so let’s just say that even entry-level models get 16-inch alloys, front and rear electric windows, Bluetooth and DAB radio. You’ll need our Dynamique S to step up to the 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen (it’s a 7-inch landscape unit on lesser specs), 17-inch alloys and parking camera with front and rear parking sensors.
What’s the Megane ST like inside?
The interior is strikingly clean and simple, and feels solidly built. The touchscreen reduces button clutter and, while it can frustrate on first acquaintance, it doesn’t take long to adapt.
The seats are incredibly comfortable and deeply bolstered, something exaggerated as you sink into the generously padded bases; they’re reminiscent of the Clio Williams’ chairs. There’s ample legroom in the back, but the rear seats are perched so high that those over six-feet tall have only marginal headroom. Odd.
There’s 521 litres of boot spaciousness, or 1504 litres with the rear seats folded. That’s 19 and 126 litres down, respectively, on the big-booted Astra that goes by the same name.
You can select a ‘high position’ for the boot floor, which not only creates a flat floor with the rear seats folded, but also a separate storage area under the boot floor. There are also storage bins either side by the wheel arches.
What’s the Sport Tourer like to drive?
Not very sporty, unfortunately, and certainly not a match for the stylish exterior design. The entry-level 110 dCi turbodiesel gives up its modest power grudgingly, so that it feels underpowered and unwilling even when you’re not trying particularly hard; with the 130 providing very little extra performance, you might be better holding out for that twin-turbo 1.6 dCi with 163bhp.
The throw of the gear lever is vague and the steering lacks on-centre definition and feel, and the electrically assisted system makes curiously loud noises when you twirl it into parking spaces. The chassis also exhibits a complete lack of dynamic verve, yet for something so unsporting called ‘Sport’, the Megane rides with a surprising lumpiness.
We’re not expecting it to be a Renault Sport estate, but an entry-level Astra or Golf is both more enjoyable to thread along a twisty road, and more pliant too. Encouragingly, the top-spec GT is Renault Sport-fettled.
We also weren’t very impressed with the Lane Keep Assist system, which turns down the radio and farts gently in your ear as you approach every white line. Plotting a straight line through some clearly sighted turns is like playing musical chairs with whoopee cushions. Thank goodness you can turn it off.
The Megane Sport Tourer is far from a bad car. It looks desirable, offers a good amount of space and flexibility, and its seats are highly comfortable – though the restricted rear headroom is a little odd.
But it does itself no favours when it comes to the driving experience, with an unwilling engine, ho-hum dynamics and strangely leaden ride. Even if the closest you come to on-limit handling is hitting the lock stops during a three-point turn, there are simply nicer, more polished ways of getting from A to B than this.