French style and

quality without

tears

Renault Megane GT, front
Renault Megane GT, front
Renault Megane GT, side
Renault Megane GT, rear
Renault Megane GT, rear
Renault Megane GT, interior

NOT that long ago those looking for a nicely warmed up family hatchback would have headed to one of Mr Ford's splendid retail outlets for free coffee and a lovely bunch of flowers with any purchase.

This is because that it one of the things Henry's peopleare very good at. As indeed aredesigners at Volkswagen, another accepted source of driving pleasure.

Perhaps, ifthere was a burning desire to look cool and sexy while waiting for the recovery services, an Alfa from the slick chap in shades may have been on the shopping list because, just as there were once Saab fans keen to pretendthey were really airline pilots and not estate agents, others desired to be a Rome policeman. Do not ask me why.

It is unlikely, however, despite the obvious talents of Renaultsport Clios that there would be asudden flash mobbing of any Reggie dealerships to buy a Megane. That despite the fact that the outgoing GT was something of an unsung hero.

These were places for families fluent in maternity speak and able to reel off precise details of ISOFIXpoints and cup holder numbers in just about every van with windows on themarket.

Alternatively they had an overwhelming need to align themselves with cubist art and Louvre season ticket holders so would seek out models like Avantime even though they were clearly a product of a long lunch on the pastis. The cars not the buyers. Although that could be debated.

People so determinedto appear French that theywould willingly talk like that copper in Allo, Allo: "Pudding me but kid yo direct my woof and I to the Vel Satis? I wash to boy one."

All that, however, has changed thanks to the new 202bhp Megane GT Nav, a beautifully sculpted car with punch and smoothness. A car which my ‘woof' has just driven home boosted by the admiring glances of what passes for gendarmerie in Lancashire and having been ogled by some men in suits.

By comparison some of the competition looks like it has been thrown out of the ugly tower via a locked fire door.

Based around a 1.6-litre turbo engine the GT will manage a 62mph sprint in 7.1 seconds. It is not likely to encourage wearing your head back to front but a balanced and mature sporting drive.

The GT is only available with a seven-speed DSG gearbox, not that anyone with an understanding of forward momentum will lose sleep over that. There is a diesel but this is not it.

Don't rely on this car to keep the household budget on track. It may claim a combined consumption of 47mpg but 40 would be more realistic, unless you are missing the point when the answer is a bus ticket. Tax is a middling £130.

So how does it drive? Well, in everyday conditions it is a smooth as mink knickers but the real joy comes when you turn left at the sheep shed and take on the delights of moorland roads.

Footwork is faultless, aided and abetted by something called 4Control, a four-wheel steering technology which also helps urban nimbleness. Anti-skid regulation and understeer control further adds to the rock steady handling.

The GT is lavishly appointed with technical wizardry like the increasingly popular self-parking, crash avoidance and head up display. There is a selection of drive modes.

It has a quality cabin which can be fitted with personalised instruments in five colours. The touch screen is massive and easy to use even for the fat of finger.

Equipment features parking cameras and traffic sign recognition. Entertainment and oooh-ahhs include all the connectivity, a quality radio, streaming from devices and some pretty mood lighting.

Is there anything not to like? Yes paying an extra £1,200 for Alcantara upholstery. But with it the sports seats become among the best around

And so there, for £25,500 is the Megane GT. Not a bad price by any means. French without tears.

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