Review and road test of the Renault Megane Sport Tourer

TOURER OF DUTY

Renault's Megane Sport Tourer is a compact estate championing PHEV tech. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review of the Renault Megane Sport Tourer

MPVs tend to dominate the limelight with their versatile interiors and clever storage solutions, but the estate car will still be a better solution for many families. This Renault Megane Sport Tourer, based on the improved version of the MK4 Megane hatch, is a great example of a compact estate with sleek looks, solid driving dynamics and lots of space in its well-designed boot area. This enhanced version is clever, sensible and very good looking, with extra sophistication inside - and under the bonnet, where E-TECH plug-in hybrid tech is the sole powerplant on offer.

Background

Have you got a young family? Then you need an SUV. At least, that's what the advertisements tell us. On TV and in the press, the SUV is set up as the ultimate route to wholesome family life. Beaming children spill from its wide door openings, bikes, kites and kitchen sinks are lifted from its huge boot and the seats magically flip, fold and twirl so the most can be made of its cavernous interior. It's all very convincing but where does it leave the good old fashioned estate car? It's certainly been eclipsed by the SUV but does it still have a role to play? Renault thinks it does and has found space in its latest fourth generation Megane line-up for this Sport Tourer estate variant, a car with the longest load capacity in its segment. These days, you can only have it with the brand's Plug-in hybrid tech.

Driving Experience

A big attraction of the estate over an SUV is the way it performs on the road. Under the bonnet, your only engine option now is the same PHEV package here that Renault uses in the compact Captur crossover, namely a 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to two electric motors and a multi-mode clutch-less transmission that Renault says offers "excellent efficiency and barely noticeable gear changes". The system puts out 160hp (around 20hp more than the equivalent plug-in package that Kia offers) and features a 9.8kWh, 400V battery that allows a range of about 30 miles; plus the ability to travel at up to 84mph, on electric power alone. After a stop, the transmission uses electric motor power to restart the car silently, and with immediate acceleration. When passing a vehicle or merging onto the highway, it combines the combustion and electric-powered engines to increase the available power and offer better acceleration. The Megane E-TECH Plug-in features specific 'Multi-Sense' drive settings - there are three. 'Pure', activated by a special button on the dashboard, is the full-electric setting, selectable provided there is enough power. The second option, 'MySense', optimises the hybrid mode for lower running costs. Its "E-Save" feature helps to save battery power (at least 40 per cent) so that it can switch to full-electric mode when required for driving in city centres, for example. Finally, 'Sport' mode allows drivers to take advantage of maximum performance by combining the power of the engine and the two electric motors. With this engaged, 62mph from rest takes 9.8s en route to 111mph.

Design and Build

The Megane Sport Tourer isn't merely a Megane Hatch with a conservatory on the back. It's properly practical with a 447-litre boot and the longest load area in the segment, at almost 2.8m (assuming you take advantage of the fold-flat front passenger seat). The modular boot is extremely straightforward to use and its floor has two positions. Selecting the high position creates a flat floor when the rear seat is folded to facilitate the loading of bulky items. In this configuration, further storage space is available beneath the cargo bay. Alternatively, setting the floor in its lower position creates maximum load volume in a single area. Nice touches include lateral storage bins on each side of the boot, next to the wheel arches. In addition, there's a hook on both sides from which bags can be hung. As an option, a luggage safety net that can be used vertically is available. It is also possible to separate the boot into two compartments, front and rear, to prevent items from sliding around. Thanks to handles located within the boot area, Renault's Easy Folding system enables simple unlocking and automatic folding of the 60/40-split rear seat. Visual changes to this improved model are centred around the headlights, no longer of the old fashioned halogen variety but now of the Renault 'LED Pure Vision' type.

Market and Model

Pricing reflect the PHEV-only engine offering, starting at around £31,000 for base 'Iconic' trim, but it's worth finding the extra couple of thousand that Renault wants to upgrade you to the much nicer 'R.S. Line' level of spec. As well as larger 17-inch wheel and sportier bumpers, that premium gets you a screen upgrade inside, the base variant's 7-inch screens for the centre-stack monitor and the instrument binnacle enlarged, respectively, to 9.3-inches and 10.2-inches. In addition, the sportier derivative has lots of nice 'R.S.Line'-themed trimming touches for areas like the dash, the doors, the gearstick and the sports seats. All Megane models these days get full-LED headlamps with C-shaped LED daytime running lights. Plus navigation, all-round parking sensors, climate controlled air conditioning and power-folding mirrors, along with the 'Android Auto' and 'Apple CarPlay' smartphone-mirroring systems. Safety-wise, it's disappointing to find that autonomous braking (Renault's 'AEBS' 'Automatic Emergency Braking System') is only standard with plusher 'R.S. Line' trim. But as well as the usual passive safety features, all models do get the brand's 'Visio Pack', which gives you 'Lane Departure Warning', 'Traffic Sign Recognition' and 'Automatic High/Low beam' headlights.

Cost of Ownership

The E-TECH Plug-in hybrid powertrain can offer a 30 mile WLTP-rated all-electric driving range: that rises to around 40 miles on the urban cycle. You can select an additional 'B' mode via the auto gearstick to increase regenerative braking energy harvesting. Like all PHEVs, this one can offer three-figure combined cycle economy (217.3mpg) and a super-low CO2 emissions figure - in this case up to 30g/km. Which in turn will mean a far lower BiK tax rating (10%) than the one which would apply to a conventional petrol or diesel rival. Enough to justify this PHEV model's price premium? That'll depend on your tax situation. Charging time via a Type 2 (mode 3) cable is 3 hours - or 4 hours 15 mins from a domestic socket. Another aspect of purchase that should please you lies in the fact that you won't be fobbed off with the basic three year / 60,000 mile warranty that most rivals offer. All Meganes come with a much more complete four-year / 100,000-mile warranty that includes emergency breakdown recovery. There's also three years' worth of European cover as part of this package. Insurance is group 22E for the E-TECH Plug-in.

Summary

Renault appears to be in little doubt that the estate car still has something to offer in the modern marketplace - in Plug-in form anyway. The Megane Sport Tourer also looks the part with its sleek, elongated lines and beneath the handsome exterior is more rear passenger space and a very big boot. It might not have the flexibility of a leading SUV or MPV product but the Sport Tourer blends style and practicality in a manner that should appeal to those who aren't convinced by the crossover's trendiness or the people carrier's trickery. The estate remains a refreshingly straightforward style of family car and there's still a lot to be said for that.

Renault Megane Sport Tourer review by Jonathan Crouch

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Overview

Car review: Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Manufacturer:Renault
Model:Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Category:Small Estates
Rating:8 out of 10

Gallery

Car review: Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Car review: Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Car review: Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Car review: Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Car review: Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Car review: Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Car review: Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Car review: Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Car review: Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Car review: Renault Megane Sport Tourer

Scores

Performace:
70%
Handling:
70%
Comfort:
80%
Space:
80%
Styling:
70%
Build:
70%
Value:
80%
Equipment:
80%
Economy:
70%
Depreciation:
50%
Performace:
70%
Total:
72%