We drove the latest Renault Megane hatchback in 2016 & were impressed with it’s price, it’s looks, it’s spec, it’s ride & it’s handling. Renault also offer the more practical Sport Tourer, which comes with both the same engines & same trims as the hatchback version.
Small estates are a bit of a niche nowadays, what with the glut of SUV’s & Crossovers on our roads. However, if comfort, handling & practicality are the Holy Trinity in your car of choice, then the Sport Tourer may well be for you, because they are most definitely more fun to drive than the more chunky Crossovers out there.
I was testing the 1.5 dCi, badged Dynamique S Nav, which sits smack bang in the middle of the range. The cabin is fitted out in a mix of black & chrome.The upper dashboard is finished in a nice soft-touch plastic, whilst the steering wheel, switches & cloth seats all look &feel built to last. The dashboard is dominated by the portrait shaped 8.7″ infotainment system, the largest in the class, which controls pretty much everything in front of you. You can adjust the heating with separates manual dials, otherwise the radio, Sat/Nav, Bluetooth, aux-in, USB connected device, driving settings & journey info are all adjusted using this screen.
I found the large touchscreen very user friendly, if, like pretty much all I have encountered, a bit fussy, taking a fair few touches to bring up the screen & function of your choice. One highlight of the system, is that you can adjust what Renault have termed “Multi-Sense” functions, or how the car drives. For example, I set off in Neutral mode, but you can also adjust this to Eco, Comfort, Sport & Personal, allowing you to alter the steering & set up of the car to suit the road environment or your own driving technique. As I drove along, I selected “Sport “ mode & although the difference was not massive, it did tweak the steering & engine sound just enough for me to notice a difference. You can also adjust the cars interior lighting through this as well.
Equipment levels on the new Megane are very good, with the Dynamique S Nav featuring 17” diamond cut Florida alloys, electrically adjusted heated & folding door mirrors, front & rear parking sensors, a rear parking camera, hill-start assist, cruise control with speed limiter, Visio system including lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition & automatic high or low beam, halogen headlights, automatic dual zone climate control, driver & passenger seat height & lumbar adjustment as well as the 8.7” portrait touchscreen, with TomTom live satellite, Arkamys 3D Sound, 4X35W DAB radio with BluetoothDAB/FM/AM tuner with audio streaming, hands-free calls, USB & AUX in sockets.
As with the Kadjar & Megane hatch, the cruise control & speed limiter controls are located in the centre console between the two front passengers, something I always fail to remember on any first Renault motorway trip. Cabin storage comes in the form of large door bins, a lidded compartment between the front seats, two drinks holders in front of this, a cubby hole ahead of the gear lever & a smallish glove box
On the road, the six-speed gear manual gear change is short & slick & coupled with the light clutch, make for enjoyable driving. Furthermore the engine is quiet compared to other similar sized diesels & over undulating roads I found the ride to be just the right side of soft. There is some wind noise from the external mirrors & the tyres, but it’s not overly intrusive. Overall it handles well & the three choices of steering adjustment as well as it’s accuracy on the road, plus the 17″ wheels fitted to the Renault made for an unassuming, hassle-free ride.
The low ride in the Tourer, is actually it’s most endearing feature. The suspension & steering are such that if you attack a bend with gusto, the Megane goes around it with aplomb. Even on the motorway, the Tourer gives off the feeling that it’s hugging the road, rather than riding above it, which again, makes for engaging driving. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine, only offers up 108bhp & 250Nm of torque.& requires 11.3 seconds to go from 0-62mph. But, despite this & especially if you select Sport mode, it feels punchier than this, which is always a good thing.
Sports Tourer customers, will want to utilise the extra space on offer. By extending the wheelbase by 43mm and the length by 267mm, Renault have created a useful load area of 580 litres, which increases to 1,695 litres if you lower the rear seats which can be done quickly & easily with the levers fitted in the boot. To test out the boot, I lowered the rear 3 seats & loaded a mountain bike into the Megane, which fitted quite snugly. Unlike the hatchback, the load area is flat, with no boot lip. This meant that getting the bike in & out was easy to do. Furthermore, the boot floor features a pop-up load divider which also lifts up to reveal another useful storage area.
In Late 2017, diesel is not flavour of the month, but when it comes to fleet cars, diesel is still the vehicle of choice. Renault claim a combined fuel economy for the Megane Sports Tourer of 76.4mpg, which if achievable is very, very good. Suffice to say, in our week in the car, driving on a mixture of motorway, urban & rural roads, we ended up averaging a far more realistic 48.8 mpg, which makes us believe that 55mpg is infinitely achievable & 60mpg could be reached with careful driving. Emissions are excellent at 96g/km, BIK is an attractive 21% & with an OTR price of £22,990, it’s competitively priced as well.
Sports Tourer sales may not be massive, but it is a sector that most of the major players still target, with the competiton coming from the Peugeot 308 SW, Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, SKODA Octavia estate & SEAT Leon ST. All of these cars offer a mix of good handling & extended storage space & amongst it’s peers, the Megane Sports Tourer does not stand out, but neither is it outclassed.
Like it’s hatchback sibling, the latest Megane Sports Tourer is not earth shattering, but it does at the very least give Renault an opportunity to claw back sales from both KIA & Hyundai, who have taken up the slack in this sector in recent years, as well as putting Renault on an even keel with the latest offerings from Peugeot, SEAT & Vauxhall.
Overall a ‘Tim the Toolman Taylor’ 3.5/5