Renault Megane - 'Smart looks, low fuel bills and generous kit tick all the right boxes'
Renault's new compact estate is stylish, economical and has plenty of storage room
If space for the kids, scooters and the dogs are playing havoc with your car choices but you are not yet in the market for an MPV or a crossover, then a compact family car may just be enough to tempt you.
The latest newcomer to a growing sector of estate or pseudo-estate versions of hatchbacks is the Mégane Sports Tourer, and it faces stiff competition from the likes of the Ford Focus Estate, Opel Astra Sports Tourer and SEAT's sporty Leon ST.
Compact estate cars are now the last word in stylish, sporty wheels and the new Sports Tourer stands out with its clean lines and distinctive lighting signature at the front and is particularly eye-catching. Specific to the Sports Tourer are the roof rails and an extended rear with a larger boot. Opt for the GT version and you get steering-wheel paddle shifters, a different front bumper, 18" aluminium wheels developed by Renault Sport and GT-Line badges that adorn the front wings and rear, plus you can be smug in the knowledge that Renault Sport has not only had an input into the design but the engine and chassis set-up also.
The sharp styling on the outside is matched by a very modern cabin and the GT's plush interior trim materials all feel high-quality. The driving position is good and really comfortable. Highest-spec models get a 8.7in touchscreen that can be operated just like a smartphone or tablet and includes voice recognition for the navigation, telephone, apps and radio and is linked to larger loudspeakers.
Space is good throughout, with both the driver and front passenger well looked after with decent head- and leg-room, plus you can cram 521 litres of luggage into the boot. Fold down the back seats and there are 1,504 litres available, making it an ideal family load-lugger. However, the boot space hasn't been found at the expense of rear-seat room, where there is loads of space for passengers.
On the road the Tourer accelerates with ease and the steering is light, quick and responsive.
Two petrol and two diesel engines are available from launch, with the 1.2 and 1.6 petrol producing 130hp and 205hp and a 1.4 and 1.6 litre diesels, with 110hp and 130hp. There is a manual six-speed and the automatic EDC.
Our GT Nav 205 EDC test car comes with a 205hp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that is capable of 0-100kmph in 7.4 seconds with a top speed of 230kmph. On a mix of urban and motorway driving the GT returns 6l/100km and CO2 emissions are 134g/kms but for even greater efficiency opt for the diesel dCi 110 EDC automatic with 3.7l/100km and emissions of just 98g/km of CO2.
With prices starting at €20,490, the Mégane Sports Tourer carries a premium of €1,000 over the hatch on which it is based, and looks very competitive alongside similar rivals: prices for the Opel Astra Tourer start at €21,950; Ford's Focus Estates from €23,745; and the Seat Leon ST at €20,605. There are five trim levels to choose from: the entry-level Expression, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav, GT Line Nav or the GT Nav. Our test car is priced at €31,690 but with options comes in at €35,315.
Every Sports Tourer comes with 16" steel wheels with wheel trim, LED lighting signature front and rear, body-colour mirrors and door handles, leather steering wheel, manual aircon, hill-start assist, cruise control and speed limiter, DAB radio and bluetooth connectivity. The top-of-the-range GT Nav adds 18" Daytona diamond-cut alloy wheels, GT steering wheel with paddle shift, aluminium sport pedals, GT detailing (badges and kick plates), 8.7" touchscreen R-Link 2 navigation, full LED headlights, front and rear sensors with rear-view camera, launch control and multi-downshift function.
The Megane scored a maximum five-star rating in the tougher 2015 Euro NCAP crash test ratings, and safety features include adaptive cruise control; active emergency braking; lane departure, blind spot and safe distance warnings.
Smart looks, low fuel bills and generous kit tick all the right boxes, while the interior space will give you ample room for kids and all their clutter. Crossovers and SUVs are often touted as ideal family cars, whereas compact estates often offer more space for less money while still retaining all the best bits of the hatchback on which they are based. So with a new addition to your must-test-drive list, that just leaves the sulks and the temper tantrums of your little passengers to contend with.