Renault Megane Sport Tourer 1.9 dCi 130 Privilege
Sharp-looking Megane stands out from the crowd
- Good safety package as standard
- Diesel engines are powerful and refined
- Cabin boasts good level of comfort
- Rear load space roomy and versatile
- Keen drivers will be disappointed by the driving experience
- Renault Key card is bulky
- Exterior revisions are minor and unlikely to create serious interest
- Some minor audio controls are awkward to operate
Competition in the compact estate class isn't exactly white hot. Bought in small numbers, it's products from Ford and Vauxhall that appear to dominate the sector. That said, these cars aren't what you would call exciting to look at. Renault's Megane Sport Tourer on the other hand is, and boasts a level of refinement a notch above its rivals.
Revised for 2006, Renault has made several revisions to the exterior of the Megane, although the changes are subtle. The most noticeable are the new V-shaped grille, slimmer headlights and front bumper. At the rear, new light clusters and a reprofiled bumper are subtle changes.
Improvements inside the car run to a new range of trim fabrics, and details such as the new instrument graphics with white backlighting and the soft-touch dashboard help to raise the feeling of quality.
A claimed improvement in the standards of fit and finish inside the cabin, as well as more soundproofing throughout the car, is obvious from the moment you drive the Megane. Changes have also been made to improve steering feel by adjusting of the electronic power steering - finally making the car more enjoyable and consistent to drive.
Although boasting a powerful range of diesel engines, the focus has also been to drive down emissions and improve fuel economy. They all offer the performance of a petrol engine with all of the benefits of a diesel. They also give Renault numerous contenders in this segment for drivers who are looking for a car with strong performance without sacrificing economy.
Our verdict on the Renault Megane Sport Tourer 1.9 dCi 130 Privilege
The Megane Sport Tourer is a surprisingly good all-rounder. The 2006 model year improvements do much to raise the car's standing in what is hardly a cut and thrust market sector. Although keen drivers will find greater satisfaction elsewhere, the Megane's impressive refinement and carrying capacity are real world attributes worth more than an extra second shaved off the car's zero to 62mph sprint time.
Opt for a diesel plus a middle trim range and it's not difficult to keep costs down. As a general rule, Renaults are not expensive to run, boasting modest insurance groups and sensible servicing charges. Factor in frugal diesel fuel consumption and it's easy to see the car's appeal
Space and practicality
The Megane makes use of its generous exterior dimensions well. Cabin room is good and four adults should have little difficulty getting comfortable. Regarding the Sport Tourer, its boot is a generous size and boasts a low loading lip. Practicality is a strong point; the rear seats can be folded to liberate even more room and the whole area is protected by a sturdy retractable load cover.
Controls and display
The Megane's instrument graphics are easy to read, while the trip computer is informative and simple to use. The remaining controls, either on the centre console or by the driver's door are on the small side however. Largely however, the Megane's displays are well laid out and the main controls are intuitive. The unusual U-shaped handbrake does take a little getting used to, though.
The Megane is most definitely a comfort-oriented car, and is very good at filtering out the majority of road imperfections. It also boasts a comfortable cabin, complete with supportive seats both front and rear. The Megane's airy cabin also contributes to the overall high levels of refinement. Head, leg and elbowroom fore and aft is more than acceptable.
With remote central locking plus an immobiliser on all models plus the option of an alarm, the Megane provides a high level of security. The car's credit card size 'key' can prove a little awkward at times - especially if you have to routinely put it in its slot. The best solution is to go for the keyless entry option, which allows you to keep it on your person at all times.
The Megane's safety credentials have always been a strong selling point. All models are fitted with ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, with ESP and traction control model dependent features. Tyre pressure monitoring is also a useful option.
In 1.9-litre dCi 130bhp form the Megane Sports Tourer delivers a pleasing combination of economy, refinement and performance. In the case of the 1.9, torque is spread evenly over the entire rev range, thus promoting a laid-back driving style. The rest of the driving experience mirrors this relaxed approach, as the Megane's suspension is supple and noise levels pleasingly low. Keen drivers will be disappointed by the steering's remote feel, but this is actually a bonus on long motorway journeys.
Family car appeal
In Sport Tourer form, the Megane is a solid alternative to a compact people carrier. Thanks to its good refinement, practicality and spaciousness it would easily accommodates the needs of a small but growing family. Awkward items should fit easily in the spacious boot, which can't be said for its hatch counterpart.
First car appeal
There's little wrong with choosing the Megane as a first car. If you're in need of a compact estate, the Renault is easy to drive, comes with plenty of safety kit and should prove to be affordable to run. Parking the Sport Tourer will take a little practice, but that's the only thing to watch for.
Quality and image
Pushing the Megane up a notch is the small but welcome improvement in quality, be it cabin fit and finish or the type of materials used. In terms of image, the Megane's designers have done well to cultivate an image of French flair, which has been backed up by stylish advertising.
Gaining access to the front or rear seats of the Megane is straightforward. The car's high roofline removes the need to stoop a great deal to gain access, while the long front doors give way to a large aperture. At the rear, the car's tailgate is easy to open and close as it's not that large or heavy.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
Standard fit is a combined radio and CD player, which provides a good standard of sound quality. The unit's front panel uses rather small buttons, but this is offset up by the clever column-mounted controls that allow all the major functions to be operated with ease by the driver.
Colours and trim
The cosmetically enhanced Megane boasts a similar interior as before, but it's noticeably constructed from better materials. The use of lighter colours makes the cabin feel much more airy and spacious, plus it adds a premium ambience. As before, the car's exterior looks good in most colour options, although bold, bright hues work the best.
Reversing is made straightforward thanks to the tailgate's straight up and down design. The front is a little more difficult if you sit low in the car, as the bonnet disappears from view. Thankfully the car's light power steering and progressive clutch makes short work of parking, and optional reversing sensors are worth the extra money.
Space saver fitted beneath the boot floor.
Petrol engines: 1.4-litre (100bhp); 1.6-litre(110bhp); 2.0-litre(135bhp). Diesel engines: 1.5-litre (85bhp and 105bhp); 1.9-litre (130bhp), 2.0-litre (150bhp). Five-speed manual fitted as standard to 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrols and 1.5-litre 85bhp diesel, all others fitted with six-speed manual gearbox. Four-speed automatic transmission available on 1.6-litre petrol and 1.9-litre diesel. Trim levels: Expression, Dynamique and Privilege.
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