A dash of subtle French style means the estate version of the Megane is a good-looking and distinctive car.

Compared to its predecessor, the latest version of the Sport Tourer sits lower and wider on the road - a change that greatly enhances its sporty characteristics.

From the eye-catching grille to the perfectly-sculpted creases on the bonnet through to the striking silver roof rails, it’s a machine that’s pleasing on the eye.

Unlike some estates, you’re not left with the feeling that the larger back end has simply been bolted on as an afterthought. There’s a flow and uniformity running from front to back.

It comes with a choice of four engines: turbocharged petrol units, a 130PS, 1.2-litre and 205PS, 1.6-litre; and a 1.5-litre turbodiesel with 110PS or 130PS. The 110PS diesel, tested here, is a highly-efficient unit, proving especially frugal on ‘eco mode’ as the car ate up the motorway miles during a half-term camping trip to Devon.

During that long motorway haul, the various different drive modes - which bring with them a different lighting colour scheme and cabin ambiance - provided a surprising amount of entertainment to the children as I was inundated with requests to ‘put on the blue lighting’ or to ‘switch to the green lights.’

From a driving point of view, the Megane’s most disappointing persona was sport mode (red lighting). While the more aggressive mode does bring a more urgent engine note and extra feel to the steering, the acceleration remained a little too docile for my liking, still only propelling the car from a standing start to 62mph in 11.3seconds, with a potential maximum speed of 116mph.

However, if we’re talking statistics, the figure that may be more interesting to would-be buyers is an official combined fuel economy return of 76mpg. In this case the gap between the stated figure and the real-world return seemed a lot narrower than normal.

In terms of handling, the steering is weighty and accurate when you engage sport mode. However, the steering is much too light on eco or neutral mode and there’s little or no feedback. Meanwhile, the car’s low stance gives you the impression that it should hug the road with precision through the tighter bends. In reality, there’s a fair bit of body roll to take into account when you want to drive briskly.

When it comes to transmissions, buyers get a choice of a six-speed manual and a six or seven-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic, depending on which engine you chose. The manual box on the test vehicle seemed slick, with the Megane arguably at its most potent when being worked hard through second and third gear.

In the practicality stakes, the Megane Sport Tourer certainly doesn’t disappoint - and that’s pretty important when you’re loading up two adults, three children, a large tent and a ridiculous array of bags for a 270-mile journey. For starters, there’s oceans of space for the driver and front seat passenger, with the nicely-sculpted seats proving comfortable. Rear seat legroom isn’t bad either, although the lower roofline does eat into headroom for back seat passenger.

The boot is capable of swallowing up a vast amount of luggage, although it must be noted that it’s not as big as that found on rival estates such as the Astra and Octavia.

Trim levels start with Expression and then Dynamique, the former getting 16-inch wheels, Bluetooth, DAB radio, with Dynamique adding a better radio, auto headlamps and wipers, lane-departure warning, rear parking sensors, and an impressive seven-inch touch screen with Renault’s R-Link system. The top-level Signature adds 18-inch wheels and LED lamps and there’s GT line, which is more flashy and adds bigger air intakes, 17-inch wheels, and four-wheel steering.

To conclude, it’s a frugal and practical offering, but performance could be more exciting.