HOW time flies, but it's hard to believe that the Renault Megane has been around in one form or another for nearly 15 years now.
And during that time it has just got better and better every time Renault put it under the knife for a major refit or even just to give it a quick tweak here or a tweak there to keep it looking fresh
It received something of a facelift back in 2012 prior to getting a total rework last year, and that's pretty good news for those in the market for a two to three-year-old highly-versatile used family hatchback.
For the Megane is now far superior to any of its older siblings and offers a major step up in terms of build quality, interior design and overall handling. There's also much more room for any growing family.
Inside, the interior is typical Renault. There's a nice solid feel to all the switch gear and there are plenty of soft-touch plastics around. In some higher-end models there's even a nifty keyless entry system with a push-button stop/start switch, while the moden-look dash comes with a digital speedo.
The car scored great marks in Euro NCAP tests, so all occupants are well protected, while electronic stability control and ABS also help the driver keep the car in check.
From its launch, the Megane Hatchback was well placed within its sector and came with a practical boot which can accommodate up to 405 litres with the seats up and 1,162 litres when the back seats are folded ... and they fold flat.
Slick looking from all angles, the five-door machine had great exterior looks which made it stand out from the crowd and it also performed and handled just the way a top-notch machine from a well-established brand should, coming with a wide choice of both petrol and diesel engines, ranging from the entry 1.2-litre petrol unit to a powerful two-litre turbocharged oilburner.
With low emissions and great fuel economy, any of the diesel-powered versions are certainly worth a look. However, the 1.5-litre, 110bhp offered a neat mix of power and economy to make it, for me at least, the one to check out.
With 177lb/ft of torque giving a top speed of 118mph and a zero to sprint time of around 11 seconds, that's enough grunt and pulling power to meet the needs of most families, and with fuel consumption heading in the high 60mpg range, it's easy to see why the Megane diesel quickly became a firm favourite with both private and business users alike.
In GT Line TomTom guise the car wants for nothing, with stop/start, cruise control, climate control and integrated TomTom satellite navigation system with parking camera fitted as standard.
Out on the road, the hatch performed well. Its handling proved light and positive, yet there was plenty grip for safe handling through corners.
The suspension was also nicely balanced to give a smooth ride, but to be fair, it's much more at home with a nice smooth surface rather than trying to cope with some of our poorly-surfaced so-called highways.
A 2012 62-plate five-door Megane 1.5 dCi 110bhp GT Line TomTom five-door with around 40,000 miles will cost between £5,625 and £7,395, while a similar 2013 63-plate example will command a price tag of between £6,600 and £8,415.
Petrol models are even more of a bargain buy. A 2012 62-plate 1.2-litre 16-valve, again in GT Line TomTom trim, will range between £4,765 and £6,255, while a 2013 63-plate model will be priced around the £5,400 to £6,890 mark.