With some 560,000 Renault Meganes sold in the UK over the last ten years, the French car maker is optimistic about its all-new, longer and lower replacement. It£€™s a stylish car in some great colours and with a much more welcoming cabin and a usefully bigger boot.
The 25 strong range starts at £16,600 for the TCe Expression 130 but Renault wanted us to drive the 205 GT Nav and that£€™s pricey at £25,500. And options such as Alcantara Upholstery (£1,200), adaptive cruise control (£400) and an uprated sound system pushed the price to a hefty £28,575.
Now the GT is a racy looking thing but despite its badging this model is more a korma hatch than a vindaloo one and so delivers a nice blend of pace and economy.
Now I admit I had been spoiled by Seat£€™s blistering 286bhp Leon Cupra and even with tweaks by Renault Sport to the engine and suspension there was no way the turbocharged 1618cc petrol engine was going to produce the same sort of thrills.
With its Grand Prix winning expertise and engine know how it isn£€™t that Renault couldn£€™t produce a racier motor but this way there£€™s room higher up for non diet Renault Sport hooligan machine.
The 205 badge by the way refers to the engine£€™s metric horsepower; that£€™s 202bhp. The dashboard is dominated by the biggest touch screen you will see this side of an electric Tesla and responded quickly.
And, will blessings never cease? You don£€™t have to drill into various on screen menus just to change the heating and ventilation controls. There are also various short cut buttons too which make life easier.
Over the moors near Darlington, Country Durham, the Megane was an intriguing companion but I remain sceptical of cars with back wheels that can steer as well as the front.£ I remember the 1989 Honda Prelude was great at slaloms round cones but not much else. A bum steer you might say.
Below 50mph in RS mode the Megane£€™s rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front creating a smaller turning circle. Going faster they turn in the same direction as the front, but to a smaller degree.
Once you are into a£ bend there may be more stability, and a claimed reduction in body lean, but that initial turn in feels odd and I found it difficult to trust the back end. Car testers are expressing similar doubts about the new Ferrari F12tdf at a colossal £340,000.
I know we are very much in the computer age but as a purist I found the synthesised engine sound through the door speakers nothing but irritating. In the same way; believing form follows function, I did not like one of the rear exhausts being fake.
Even in sport mode the suspension was quite soft and forgiving so you can get some pitching if you start driving enthusiastically over undulating roads but the Megane is aimed at motorists with families.
There are four other selectable modes: eco, comfort, neutral and chosen personal settings. It£€™s possible to adjust the effort needed to turn the steering wheel but there£€™s no real £€˜feel.£€™
You can override the seven-speed automatic gearbox using £€˜paddles£€™ but there were times when I didn£€™t get the gear I wanted as quickly as I needed it. Driving briskly we averaged 19.3 to 25.2mpg though the official combined test cycle figure is 47.1mpg.
Carbon dioxide emissions of 134g/km mean road tax of £130 per year. A lane change warning system for dozy drivers sounds like driving over cats£€™ eyes.
Also consider: Ford Focus ST, Vauxhall Astra Sri, Volkswagen Golf GTI.