The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.6

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. 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.

Reasons to buy

  • Looks unique and flamboyant
  • Affordable to buy and run
  • Generously equipped
Best on a budget
1.2 TCe 130 Expression+
Enough kit and the engine is great in other Renault products.
Most economical
1.5 DCi 110 manual
Not many rivals can match this car’s 76mpg.
Best avoided
1.6 TCe 205 EDC GT Nav
Misses the mark on both pace and handling.

How good does it look? 5/5

Small estate cars aren’t usually the first port of call for buyers looking for style, but in a sector that’s full of rather frumpy, humdrum-looking machinery, the Megane Sport Tourer really stands out. The flamboyant C-shaped headlamp design (complete with LED daytime running lights on every model) is shared with other recent Renault models, and there’s plenty more of interest besides, with all sorts of curves and creases leading to the elongated tail lights that stretch almost right across the rear end. All versions of the car have alloy wheels and colour-coding for the bumpers and door mirrors, but aside from different sizes and designs for the wheels, every edition looks pretty much identical until you get near the top of the range. Signature cars are marked out by their full LED headlamps, and GT Line and GT models also get a sporty body kit.

What's the interior like? 3/5

Only the most basic model misses out on a touch-screen infotainment system. Lower-end versions get the same 7.0-inch screen found in other small Renaults, which is reasonably easy to use once you get used to it. In higher-spec Meganes, that’s replaced by an 8.7-inch portrait screen, which immediately gives the cabin 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. The sculpted seats are wonderfully supportive and have bags of adjustment, but the protruding headrests might cause your neck to crane forward at an awkward angle.

How practical is it? 3/5

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 at more than 500 litres, many rivals do a whole lot better, and the back seats don’t go flat when you fold them down, leaving a pronounced slope.

What's it like to drive? 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. That said, the suspension is supple enough that you won’t be wincing over most surfaces, so you’ll be comfortable most of the time. There’s no shortage of grip, but unfortunately, the steering doesn’t really do the handling any favours. It feels incredibly remote, and when you leave the drive mode selector (provided on all but the entry-level version, altering the behaviour of the steering, throttle and engine sound) in Comfort, the featherlight weighting can have you wandering around in your lane. Selecting Sport mode dumps in more artificial-feeling weight, and although this doesn’t make the steering any more engaging, at least the extra resistance makes the car feel slightly more stable.

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. It feels like the tyres are skipping over the road surface rather than biting into it, and the steering is still remote, despite being quicker. The four-wheel steering system you get on this version does make the car more manoeuvrable at low speed, but it doesn’t deliver the thrills when you’re going faster.

How powerful is it? 3/5

The Megane is offered with a pair of petrol engines and a pair of diesel engines, all turbocharged and most of which can be specified with a twin-clutch gearbox.

The Megane is offered with a pair of petrol engines and a pair of diesel engines, all turbocharged and most of which can be specified with a twin-clutch gearbox. Our favourite is the 108bhp 1.5-litre diesel. It’s no ball of fire in the pace department, even when you rev it out, 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, so it’s best to just sit back and adopt a lazy, short-shifting driving style. It’s just a shame the notchy, long-throw gearchange isn’t a little more satisfying.

The bigger 1.6-litre diesel, with 128bhp, adds a fraction more muscle across the rev range, but it doesn’t ultimately feel a whole lot faster or more flexible, so you might as well save yourself the extra it costs you to buy and run over the smaller diesel. The entry-level petrol is a 1.2, again with 128bhp, but we haven’t tried it yet. We have, however, tried the sportiest of the bunch, the 202bhp 1.6-litre petrol in the GT model. It delivers decent warm-hatch pace, but wherever you are in the rev range, it never feels anywhere near as powerful as the output suggests, and there’s something slightly detached and undramatic about the way the car gathers speed. The twin-clutch gearbox, standard on this version, also hampers your progress because it’s a little slow to switch cogs, and it often finds itself in the wrong ratio for the job at hand.

How much will it cost me? 4/5

Compare the Megane with rivals like the Ford Focus Estate and Volkswagen Golf Estate, and the Renault is a useful bit cheaper. Prices are more on a par with those of the Seat Leon ST and Peugeot 308 SW, but they’re still 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. Most versions appear to be competitive with rivals on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, with the star of the show being the 1.5-litre diesel, with official figures of 76mpg and 96g/km. All but one of the diesels do better than 70mpg, and all but the most powerful petrol gives you upwards of 50mpg.

How reliable is it? 4/5

Take a look at the Warranty Direct Reliability Index, and you’ll be pretty happy with the prospect of how reliable your Megane should be. Renault sits firmly in the top half of the manufacturer rankings, and as an individual model, the Megane hasn’t done at all badly, either. 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 that platform – including the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar – over reliability. Renault offers a middle-of-the-road three-year/60,000-mile warranty.

How safe is it? 4/5

Being a Renault, you’d expect the Megane to be one of the safest cars in its class. Indeed, the hatchback version has earned the maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP. All examples come with six airbags and tyre pressure monitoring, while all but the entry-level version also have Lane Departure Warning and automatic high/low beam lights. It’s strange, then, that Autonomous Emergency Braking – standard-fit on many rivals – is left on the options list for all versions.

How much equipment do I get? 4/5

Anyone who chooses a Megane will enjoy a generous amount of standard equipment. The entry-level Expression+ model comes with alloy wheels, cruise control, air-con, four electric windows and a DAB stereo with Bluetooth, while the upgrade to Dynamique Nav trim earns you nav (obviously!), climate control, automatic lights and wipers, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, and part-leatherette upholstery. Dynamique S Nav gets you the portrait screen, front parking sensors and a reversing camera, while Signature Nav has full leather trim and LED headlamps. GT Line Nav gets a sporty body kit, while the GT Nav has a powerful engine, four-wheel steering and a twin-clutch gearbox.

Why buy? 3/5

Just like the Megane hatchback isn’t the best car in the family runaround class, the Megane Estate isn’t the best of the small wagons, because it has flaws in quite a few areas. But, if the class leaders are too common or too conservative for your tastes, we could understand you choosing the chic-looking Renault. As well as looking good, it’s also packed with equipment and is affordable to buy and run.