REVITALISED Renault is renewing its assault on the family hatch sector with an all new Megane that boasts a huge helping of Gallic style.
After a six year run, the old model is replaced by a high tech five-door that's lower, longer and more frugal.
With sleek, purposeful styling and signature headlights and tail lights it has road presence by the bucket-load and is sure to win the beauty contest against most rivals.
The 25-strong model range, which is a product of the Renault-Nissan alliance, starts at £16,600 up to £25,500 and will challenge front runners Golf, Focus and Astra. Renault sales are surging in the UK as the firm re-establishes itself among family buyers.
A choice of two petrol and two diesels is offered at the moment and next year the range will be broadened with the addition of a hybrid.
An estate - the Sport Tourer - will join the line up at the end of this year.
Although it is the same width as the outgoing version, it appears more squat and sportier partly thanks to its broader track and lower roofline. The wheelbase is longer benefiting passenger space, and the rear overhang is slightly shorter.
LED front lights with a 3D effect dominate the nose and at the rear permanently lit lights create a similarly dynamic impression. You can certainly see a new Megane coming...and disappearing into the distance.
The cabin is neatly fashioned and has borrowed cues from Renault's premium models - the Talisman and Espace, which don't come to Britain.
Soft touch, tactile plastics abound and a big seven-inch touch screen, incorporating sat nav and reversing camera, is positioned in the centre of the facia. There's plenty of shoulder room between driver and passenger.
Petrol engines comprise a 1.2-litre 128bhp, and the high performance 1.6-litre, 203bhp GT.
On the diesel front there's the108bhp dCi 110 which expected to be the best seller and a more power dCi 130 with 128bhp. Both diesels are powered by turbocharged 1.5-litre units.
The smaller diesel feels noticeably pokier than its power suggests on the road, and with a meagre CO2 of 96g/km promises to be cheap to fuel as well being tax-free.
The official combined consumption is 76.4mpg and most owners will achieve 50-plus mpg during everyday running.
Pleasantly quiet and refined it pulls strongly delivering a 0-62mph time of 11.3secs and a max of 116mph.
Particularly impressive is the absence of wind noise and very little road rumble is passed back into the cabin. The six-speed manual gearbox is light and unobtrusive, although I found the clutch pedal to be on the heavy side.
Road holding is sure-footed and confident, but it's a comfy and confident drive rather than a sporty one. Steering is light and passes little road feel back to the helm.
There's plenty of room for four onboard and even five at a pinch with adequate head-room for a six- footer, despite the sloping roof.
Boot space is marginally less generous than some rivals with a capacity of 434 litres.
Before the arrival in 2018 of a hot Renault Sport model to rival the Honda Type R, the fastest Megane is the GT which has a dual clutch automatic gearbox as standard.
With a top speed of 145mph and an ability to hit 62mph in just over seven seconds, it's no slouch but nevertheless trails the likes of Golf GTI and Peugeot GTi.
It feels assured and grippy when hurried through bends but lacks a degree of athleticism despite the fitment of four-wheel-steering.
A snarl from the rorty exhaust does little to spoil the general air of refinement in the cabin with low mechanical noise and little sign of harshness. The seven-speed gearbox with paddle change is slick and quick in action but sometimes holds on to ratios a tad too long. Price of the GT is £25,500.
Class leading looks and excellent economy deserve to put the new Megane on the shopping list for many family motorists.