The Megane estate (sorry, ‘Sport Tourer') is a big car. Bigger, obviously, than the Megane hatch, but also... just big. 456cm long, to be precise: longer than the Golf estate, a full 10cm longer than the Ford Focus estate and, tellingly, nigh-on as long as the Mondeo estate from the Nineties. The rant that cars are getting inexorably larger is a well-trodden one, but it might not be a bad thing in this case: if you're in the market for a LaSigniDeo-type estate, take a poke round one of these first.
There is bootspace as well as length. Despite the de rigueur tapering roofline, with the rear seats down the Megane estate manages 1,600 litres of luggage space: 50 litres more than the Golf estate, and even a few litres more than the Focus estate, both of which adopt the squarer-arsed approach to station wagonism. There's 6cm more legroom in the back than the Megane hatch - enough space for one six-footer to sit comfortably behind another, with plenty of head- and arm-room.
It might be six-footers who'll be most comfortable in the back of the Megane estate. The high shoulderline and narrow glasshouse mean that small people in the back will be treated to a view of door trim rather than sweeping countryside, while that thick rear pillar doesn't help the sensation of mild claustrophobia in the back - or indeed the rear visibility. Such is the price one pays for that tapering roofline. Damn you, fashion.
Yes, your kids would have a better view from a Scenic, but to hell with 'em: you'll enjoy the Megane estate more through that sweeping countryside. Despite a bunch of revisions that sound like they've been custom-designed to make the Megane more boring to drive - lighter power steering, a bigger gap between brake and accelerator pedals (no heel-and-toeing for you, Señor Nomex) - the estate is a tidy handler: nimble, flat through the corners and firm of ride without ever dipping into crashiness, even on the bigger 17-inch wheels.
We drove the Megane estate with the 158bhp 2.0-litre diesel - also seen in the Grand Scenic and soon to make its way across the Renault range. It's a peach: punchy, torquey and unusually revvy over 4,000rpm for a diesel - 8.8 seconds to 62mph isn't exactly blistering, but quick for something that'll return 50mpg.
If you really want to go down the sporty route, you can spec your Sport Tourer with a Megane Coupe-aping bodykit - silvery front snout surrounds and all - and the 180bhp 2.0 turbo petrol. But the big diesel is the sweet spot of the line-up: spec-for-spec, the Megane undercuts its Ford and VW rivals. It doesn't feel quite as solid as either, but you get a lot of car for your cash here.