AN estate car cannot be simply a load carrier if it wears the Renault badge.

It has to have style, provide a drive that puts a smile on your face and come with bags of extras to boot. In other words, a dose of French flair.

And that’s exactly what you get with the new Mégane Sport Tourer, which mirrors the distinctive style of its hatchback counterpart.

Longer and lower than the outgoing model, its design blends dynamism with elegance. The lowest vehicle in its class, it also has the widest track to increase its feeling of solidity on the road. The wheelbase is also longer than its predecessor. Flowing bodylines add to the car’s sporty style and its precise body creases are enhanced by a chrome trim around the side windows and C-pillar. The sleek roof line is emphasised with matt-finish roof bars.

Riding on 18-inch wheels, it features C-shaped LED headlights, and if you opt for higher trim levels you will be introduced to have Renault’s LED Pure Vision technology, which brings full LED lights and automatic switching between dipped and main beam.

The fourth generation of this family car, there are two petrol and two diesel engines with CO2 emissions from 96g/km and fuel economy of up to 76.4mpg (NEDC), plus a hybrid version with ultra-low emissions. Transmission is either six-speed manual and six or seven-speed automatic.

Highlights include an 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen and boot space of 521-litres with the rear seats up and 1,504-litres with them down.

Drivers can personalise their experience using five modes to alter the driving set-up and interior ambience. For instance, you can modify accelerator pedal and engine response, engine sound, steering weight, interior five-colour lighting ambience and, where fitted, the speed of dual clutch gear changes.

The goodies come thick and fast as you look down the list of available safety and convenience features. These include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, hands free parking, blind spot warning, active emergency braking, a rear parking camera, and seven-speaker sound system and panoramic sunroof.

Inside the cabin, there’s a mix of exemplary comfort and refinement marked out by high-quality, soft-touch materials – including Nappa leather steering wheel trim. There is an unmistakable cockpit feel to the car thanks to the design of the centre console and instrument panel containing the multimedia tablet and TFT display, and the sculpted seats.

There are five upholstery options, all in black, including a velvet with a deep shine giving a 3D effect, and an extremely soft finish. Heated front seats are available, as well as an electrically adjustable lumbar support on the driver’s seat. Discreet top-stitching on the seats and door panels further underlines the car’s quality.

Everything is arranged around the driver in an ergonomic and enveloping L-shape, ensuring that the various displays and the functions they control are all within easy arm’s reach. Much consideration has been given to rear passengers and a revised seating position provides greater comfort.

As well as the level of quality, refinement is also significantly better than in the previous model thanks to a stiffer body shell, thicker window glass, improved door seals and greater use of foam and felt in areas where road, wind or powertrain noise could be transmitted to the cabin.

Reserved for the GT, the 1.6-litre TCe 205, developed by Renault Sport and mated to a seven-speed EDC gearbox, produces 205hp and 280Nm of torque at 2,400rpm, making this the quickest model in the range: 0-62mph is dispatched in 7.4 seconds and the top speed is 143mph. Yet this is not at the expense of fuel economy (47.1mpg) or emissions (134g/km).