GETTING the formula right for a sporty hatchback is a seemingly impossible task - it needs to look the business with cutting edge design and it must deliver blistering driving dynamics, yet somehow it needs to be practical enough to cope with family life and even be cost-effective along the way.
Renault seems to have got all those ingredients spot on with its all-new five-door Megane GT model, which at £25,500 (£28,575 with options) ticks all the boxes.
It looks gorgeous from any angle with sporty, flowing lines complimented by 18-inch diamond cut ‘Daytona' alloy wheels, full LED headlights, twin rectangular tailpipes, front and rear body-coloured GT bumpers, LED daytime running lights, tinted windows and tailgate and lots of Renault Sport and GT badging.
The interior is beautifully laid out with two-tone blue and grey Alcantara upholstery along with flashes of neon blue on the gearstick and door inserts, along with a GT emblem on the flat-bottomed sports steering wheel.
Techno treats are plentiful and include a seven speaker BOSE sound system, an 8.7-inch upright touchscreen with TomTom LIVE satellite navigation system and voice control.
There is full connectivity capabilities, Bluetooth, a DAB digital radio, automatic dual zone climate control and plenty more besides.
The sports seats, despite being quite body-hugging, are both supportive and comfortable and the interior has a truly modern styling with all dials and controls perfectly positioned for driver usability.
Well almost. The automatic gearshift markings are over on the passenger side of the gear lever and it means leaning across to see if you are in D, R, N or P. A legacy from the car's left hand drve origins but something that I did find quite annoying.
But that gripe aside, the car was everything I had hoped it would be.
The 1.6-litre, 205bhp petrol driven engine propels the car to 62mph from a standing start in just 7.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 143mph.
The official economy figures show it can deliver combined fuel efficiency of 47.1mpg with carbon emissions of 134g/km.
And whilst the Megane GT may not be the fastest sports hatchback on the market, it's a class act when it comes to handling.
In busy traffic, it cruises along effortlessly and the hands-free parking system makes light work of finding a tight space to squeeze into.
But it's out on the open road where the car burst into life. The acceleration through the seven-speed automatic gearbox is swift and smooth with steering wheel-mounted paddles if you fancy taking more command.
There is Renault's 4Control all-wheel steering system that offers additional stability on challenging roads and for extra variety there are different driving modes - Comfort, Sport, Neutral and Perso - the latter allows the driver to adjust the throttle, steering and engine tone to suit personal tastes.
The road-holding is super assured which means tight bends can be tackled with confidence.
There is a little engine and road-surface noise at higher speeds, but generally the cabin remains well insulated.
Obviously, the car has to be practical enough to double as a family vehicle too and the Megane GT does that very well. Rear legroom is plentiful for back seat passengers who also have enough elbow and head space.
The car has a good-sized boot with a capacity of 384 litres. This can be increased to 1,247 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
And Renault has packed the vehicle with safety specifications, including anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assist, electronic stability programme, adaptive cruise control with distance alert, hill start assist and numerous airbags.