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Renault Megane ST vs Peugeot 308 SW vs Vauxhall Astra ST

Renault’s stylish new Mégane Sport Tourer faces up to its Vauxhall and Peugeot rivals. Which of our trio comes out on top?

In a logical world, estate cars would reign supreme. Mixing a standard hatch’s comfort, handling and running costs with plenty of space, they should be king of the family runarounds. Yet the recent glut of trendy SUVs and crossovers has left these traditional load-carriers in the shade.

However, Renault is hoping to reverse that trend with its new Mégane Sport Tourer. Based on the desirable five-door model, it’s turned on the style in an effort to prove that you can buy a sensible estate with your heart and head.

Best estate cars to buy

It’s not the only compact estate that’s vying to prove big doesn’t mean boring. Vauxhall’s sleek Astra Sports Tourer sets the standard for fun, and is packed with cutting-edge kit and a robust cabin. Then there’s the Peugeot 308 SW, which packs the sector’s biggest boot. We test all three as diesels; which of our great estates tastes victory?

Head-to-head

Renault Megane Sport Tourer

Price: £22,350 
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 108bhp 
0-60mph: 11.1 seconds
Test economy: 49.6mpg/10.9mpl 
CO2: 96g/km 
Annual road tax: £0

Renault’s latest Mégane made a winning debut in hatch form, so the pressure is on for this practical Sport Tourer. Featuring the same engines and trims as the standard car, the spacious newcomer certainly has all the right ingredients. For its first road test assessment, we sample it in expected best-selling £22,350 Dynamique S Nav guise.

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Tester's notes: Sport Tourer is available with 4CONTROL four-wheel steering, which can turn rear tyres by up to 2.7 degrees, boosting agility and stability. It comes only on £27,450 flagship.

Peugeot 308 SW

Price: £23,375 
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 118bhp 
0-60mph: 9.7 seconds
Test economy: 51.7mpg/11.3mpl 
CO2: 88g/km 
Annual road tax: £0

The 308 SW is one of the leading contenders in the compact estate class, thanks in no small part to its cavernous boot, low running costs and generous amount of standard kit. The load-carrier line-up mirrors that of the standard hatchback in terms of engines and trim levels, and here we test the mid-range £23,375 1.6 HDi Allure – although the car in our pictures is a lesser Active model.

Tester's notes: Standard Allure models get stylish 17-inch alloys as standard, but in an effort to reduce aerodynamic drag and boost efficiency, the 1.6-litre HDi 120 gets smaller 16-inch rims.

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer

Price: £23,390 
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 134bhp 
0-60mph: 8.9 seconds
Test economy: 50.4mpg/11.1mpl 
CO2: 104g/km 
Annual road tax: £20

The Sports Tourer Estate was the second bodystyle to be launched in the Vauxhall Astra range, and the line-up largely follows that of the five-door hatchback, with power coming from 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol engines, plus 1.6 diesels. Here we test the £23,390 134bhp 1.6 CDTi SRi Nav, but the car in our pictures is a more luxurious Elite version.

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Tester's notes: The £1,250 LEDs look pricey next to Renault’s £500 upgrade, but are more sophisticated. Adaptive matrix system automatically alters beam to suit road, conditions and motorists.

Verdict

First place: Renault Megane ST

By adding a roomy and versatile estate, Renault has further broadened the Megane's already impressive appeal. Handsome, roomy, refined, well equipped and cheap to run, it's a fine alternative to more fashionable crossovers. It's also supremely comfortable with class-leading refinement

Second place: Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer

If you value driving thrills as much as lugging loads, then the Astra should top your shopping list. It can't match its rivals here for outright space, plus it trails on kit, but its engaging handling and punchy performance make these issues easier to overlook. Factor in the Vauxhall's lengthy list of safety kit and OnStar service, and it runs the Megane very close for victory.

Third place: Peugeot 308 SW

It's a measure of how competitive this class is that a car as capable as the 308 SW takes third place. It still leads the way for space, while Allure trim is loaded with kit. Factor in cosseting comfort and low running costs, and its appeal is clear. However, time is catching up with the Peugeot, and it's let down by its dated infotainment, weak residuals and lack of family-friendly touches.

Also consider...

Ford Focus Estate 1.5 TDCi ST-Line

Ford Focus Estate - front cornering
Price: £22,645
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Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 118bhp

The Ford Focus is getting on a bit now, but racy new ST-Line trim helps boost model’s appeal, while sharp handling makes it a top choice for keen drivers. Frugal 1.5-litre diesel engine is smooth and costs peanuts to run.

Kia Cee'd SW 1.6 CRDi GT-Line

Kia Cee'd Sportswagon 19
Price: £21,995
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 134bhp

Recently revised Cee'd SW gets sporty makeover with GT-Line models, while the 1.6-litre diesel engine matches the Astra for power. It lacks the sophistication of its rivals here, but it is great value, well equipped and spacious too.

Facts and figures

 Renault Megane Sport Tourer 1.5 dCi Dynamique Nav SVauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.6 CDTi 136 Sri NavPeugeot 308 SW 1.6 Hdi 120 Allure
On-the-road price/total as tested£22,350/£24,875£23,390/£23,390£23,375/£23,375
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£8,202/36.7%£8,233/35.2%£7,550/32.3%
Depreciation£14,148£15,157£15,825
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£847/£1,694.4£933/£1,867£840/£1,679
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,330/£2,216£1,309/£2,181£1,276/£2,126
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost15/£705/A/£015/£500/B/£2021/£823/A/£0
Servicing costs£299 (3yrs/30k)£636 (3yrs/60k)£12.99 p/m (3yrs/35k)
    
Length/wheelbase4,626/2,712mm4,702/2,662mm4,585/2,730mm
Height/width1,457/1,814mm1,510/1,809mm1,472/1,863mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,461cc4cyl in-line/1,598cc4cyl in-line/1,560cc
Peak power/revs 108/4,000 bhp/rpm134/3,500 bhp/rpm118/3,500 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 250/1,750 Nm/rpm320/2,000 Nm/rpm300/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel47 litres/foam48 litres/foam53 litres/space-saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 580/1,695 litres540/1,630 litres660/1,775 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,452/462/1,300kg1,435/550/1,500kg1,475/425/1,300kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.2 metres/N/ACd11.1 metres/0.28Cd10.8 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery4yrs (100,000)/4yrs3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers18,000 (1yr)/15820,000 (1yr)/33816,000 (1yr)/283
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.8th/1st25th/22nd17th/10th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars88/87/71/71/5 (2015)86/84/83/75/5 (2015)92/79/64/81/5 (2013)
    
0-60/30-70mph11.1/10.7 secs8.9/8.4 secs9.7/9.3 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 4.0/6.2 secs3.3/4.6 secs4.3/6.9 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 8.9/11.5 secs6.2/8.1 secs8.4/15.8 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 116mph/2,000rpm127mph/2,000rpm121mph/1,600rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 49.9/36.9/10.0m45.5/35.8/9.9m49.4/35.4/13.0m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph68/42/62/69dB 66/44/62/71dB66/48/60/68dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range49.6/10.9/513 miles50.4/11.1/532 miles51.7/11.3/603 miles 78.5/88.3/85.6mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 68.9/80.7/76.4mpg60.1/80.7/72.4mpg17.3/19.4/18.8mpl
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 15.2/17.8/16.8mpl13.2/17.8/15.9mpl146/88g/km/18%
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket153/96g/km/19%150/104g/km/20%
   Six/yes/yes/£200
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSix/yes/yes/yesSix/y/£460/£615^^£1,000/y/y/£450^
Auto box/stability/cruise control/AEB*£1,200/y/y/£400^£1,320/yes/yes/yesYes/£1,500/£1,500**
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/£1,000/no£405/no/£355£525/yes/£415
Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go£545/£500/yes£555/£1,250/£405Yes/yes/yes/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes
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