Uncompromising formula ticks all boxes
Wagons are generally a bit of a hard sell to us Aussies — we long ago decided en masse SUVs would be the vehicle of choice for lugging our families and other cargo.
But if you’re in the market for a small car and don’t care if it’s a hatch or not, there are plenty of worthy wagon options out there, particularly from the Europeans.
Chief among them is the Renault Megane wagon. The Megane has been doing well for the French brand in Australia and the wagon continues much of what makes the hatch appealing: it’s a good-looker, well-equipped, has good space and is good enough mechanically not to upset anyone.
Like some others of its ilk, there’s no compromise for it being a wagon; driving it around, the way it sticks to corners with minimal body roll you’d have no idea it had a bigger behind than its hatch siblings.
And there’s a fair bit more back there. There’s good leg room for rear passengers and with the 60:40 rear seats up, the boot’s 524-litre capacity is 152 litres up on the hatch. Fold them down and you’ll have up to 1600 litres to fill — 48 litres shy the mid-sized Honda CR-V SUV.
Thanks to the GT-Line spec test car’s parking sensors and a wheelbase of 2703mm (up just 62mm longer than the hatch), the Megane wagon still has the ease of use and manoeuvrability small car buyers want.
The diesel engine boasts a fuel use of 4.7L/100km which is excellent, though we recorded about 7.0L/100km in our week in the car.
Most diesels in this class have a 2.0-litre or more capacity engine pushing them through; the Megane has a 1.5-litre. It’s great while up and running, barely sipping any fuel but in real bumper-to-bumper stuff you need to give it a bit of oomph to keep up, thus affecting the overall figure.
The wagon’s extra 63kg over the hatch wouldn’t help but in anything other than sustained traffic the diesel wagon’s more than efficient enough.
It’s a bit of a gurgling diesel by today’s standards but the cabin is well insulated from outside noise so it’s rare anything intrudes on the ambience.
The top-spec GT-Line Premium’s interior fit-out is better than in the lower trim levels, plus for your extra cash you also get Renault’s R-Link infotainment system.
It’s accessed by a joystick on the centre console — rather than a dial or mouse like other car makers opt for — which takes some getting used to. But the menus and whatnot are all fairly intuitive, meaning you can find and use what you want fairly easily.
As an added bonus, you also get a reminder when you’re approaching a red light or fixed speed camera. Nothing annoyingly histrionic: just a subtle, one-off “beep-beep”.
With the sat-nav map selected it will also flash the speed limit on the screen to let you know if you’ve crept over it.
It has the design quirks found in the hatch (centre console-mounted cruise-control switch, all-in-one instrument stalk on the steering column) and adds some of its own, like the heated seat control placed on the base of the seat.
As in the hatch though, these quirks can be surprising at first but are easy to get used to.
© The West Australian
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