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The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.8

The Renault Megane Sport Tourer is a compact estate car that majors on style and equipment, and provides plenty of both for an affordable price. Running costs are affordable as well, the new hybrid especially attractive to fleet drivers. However, it still doesn’t trouble the best small estates because it falls a little short on quality, it’s pretty average on practicality, and it’s rather so-so to drive. An updated version is due soon.

Reasons to buy

  • Stylish looks
  • Plug-in hybrid option
  • Running costs

Running costs for a Renault Megane 4/5

Compare the Megane with rivals like the Ford Focus Estate and Peugeot 308 SW and the Renault is very competitive. It’s tough to know how well the car will hold on to its value over your period of ownership, but it’s fair to say that previous Meganes haven’t exactly dazzled in this area.

The arrival of a new E-Tech hybrid version alongside the existing petrols and diesels increases the options and means you can pick a fuel type to suit your needs. Petrol engines are cheaper to buy and reasonable on fuel and CO2, the diesels cost a bit more but are much better on mpg while, if you plug it in and can use electric power for shorter journeys, the hybrid could save on fuel.

Renault says the Sport Tourer is popular with fleet drivers and, for them, the huge Benefit in Kind savings for the hybrid could be worth hundreds a month. As a plug-in the Megane beats the equivalent Toyota Corolla Touring Sports on this and has its closest competition in the Kia Ceed Sportswagon PHEV.

Reliability of a Renault Megane 4/5

Renault occupies a middling position in most reliability studies and, as an individual model, the Megane hasn’t done at all badly in Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index. That historic performance could count for nothing with the latest car being based on a different platform, but we’ve heard very few complaints from owners of cars that share the same foundations – including the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar – over reliability. Renault has upgraded its warranty from three years to five, matching the Toyota Corolla but still lagging behind Kia’s signature seven-year cover for the Ceed.

Safety for a Renault Megane 3/5

Being a Renault, you’d expect the Megane to be one of the safest cars in its class, though the car does lag behind rivals in terms of standard safety kit. The whole range is about to be overhauled and you’d expect that to change but, as it stands, the basic spec misses out on the automatic lights and wipers, lane departure warning, cruise control, rear parking sensors and other kit found on fancier trim levels. Autonomous Emergency Braking – standard-fit on many rivals – is left on the options list for all versions, too.

It’s worth pointing out the hybrid model we drove was an early, French-market version of the second-generation car and offered a taste of some of the new kit coming. This included a nifty system showing the stopping distance to the car ahead and offering a modern twist on the traditional ‘only a fool breaks the two-second rule’ mantra by going from green to red if you drive too close to the car in front.

How comfortable is the Renault Megane 3/5

The Megane is neither the most comfortable, nor the sharpest car of its type. The suspension clunks and thumps over bigger bumps, and you can feel the body floating and lolloping in bends, and over undulating roads. The GT version has a sportier suspension setup to crank up the thrills, but if our experience with the Megane Hatchback is anything to go by, it’s likely to fall wide of the mark. With the hatch, the ride becomes rather firm, harming the standard car’s comfort levels, and it doesn’t feel any more involving to drive.

The front seats have bags of space, and the rear chairs have more head-room that the Megane hatchback, but those much over six feet tall might still struggle slightly with the amount of leg-room on offer. The middle seat is wider than you find in many cars of this type, and it’s not raised too high, but the limited foot space throughout the rear footwell, plus the narrow cabin, mean carrying three in the back is still not a comfortable experience. Things aren’t all that great where luggage is concerned, either. While the boot is a decent size many rivals do a whole lot better.

Features of the Renault Megane 4/5

With the proviso equipment levels are about to change with the introduction of the updated Megane range, the Sport Tourer range is currently simplified to just three levels. The first two get a smaller 7-inch touch-screen, the basic version not even getting the TomTom navigation included. The top model gets a bigger, vertically oriented screen with more features and a more high-tech feel. However, it’s not as intuitive to use as the lower-grade system, and it’s pretty easy to get lost when trying to navigate your way through the menus. The screen could be more sensitive, too, so it might take a few attempts before an instruction registers. Elsewhere in the cabin, it’s a little hit-and-miss. There are some genuinely impressive materials on display in some places, but in quite a few others, you find harder, rather drab-looking plastics that damage the overall feeling of quality.

Power for a Renault Megane 3/5

The engine range for the Megane Sport Tourer is simple, given it comprises a single 1.3-litre petrol or a 1.5-litre diesel. Both are available with a manual or automatic transmission. Of the two we’d take the diesel. It’s no ball of fire, but its generous low-down torque makes it really flexible and easy to drive. The fact it’s also impressively smooth and quiet really helps its easy-going nature. It’s just a shame the notchy, long-throw gearchange isn’t a little more satisfying.

With a 160 horsepower from its combination of petrol and electric power the hybrid, meanwhile, offers a smooth and refined blend of performance. In its electric only mode it feels plenty powerful enough for normal driving, with no need to feather the throttle to keep it below the threshold where the internal combustion engine kicks in. You can drive like this for around 30 miles, though smart use of the ‘B’ mode on the transmission and sticking to the Pure or MySense driver modes helps regenerate charge into the battery. Sport mode, meanwhile, gives you the best of everything and compares well with the 2.0-litre version of the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, despite being down on power a tad.