THERE was a time not too many years ago when they said the traditional boxy estate car was dead in the water, superseded by roomy MPVs.
But as with so many things in the automotive arena there were some surprises to come.
Just as the old, friendly family load-lugger saw the gaping chasm of oblivion opening up it side-stepped to become something quite special.
First the world was treated to lifestyle estates, sweepingly styled vehicles which were the darlings of the weekenders and executives with a lot to carry.
These, in turn influenced the birth of the sports tourer which in many cases became better looking cars than saloon or hatchback stablemates.
And the latest offering to fly this flag comes from Renault which has unveiled the Megane Sport Tourer, a stylish take on the company's medium hatchback - and at the top of the range it's available as a fairly hot GT.
The Megane is now in its fourth generation and is helping to fuel a major resurgence of business for Renault in the UK.
The Megane hatch is one of the best-looking cars in its class and the Sport Tourer is cast in the same mould with a sweeping rear styling making it a real eye-catcher.
It comes with a choice of four engine options - two petrol and two diesels with a hybrid assist model waiting in the wings.
With boot space of up to 1,504-litres this is no pretender to practicality,and has a premium feel to it enhanced by a raft of technology and feelgood features.
There is an 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen that handles numerous functions and a Multi-Sense system that enables the driver to personalize the driving experience. This encompasses five modes to alter the driving set-up and interior ambiance.
The system is capable of modifying accelerator and engine response, engine sound, steering weight and interior lighting colour, and in the case of the upmarket version with dual clutch auto transmission, the speed of the gear changes.
This transmission is fitted on the GT 205 model, one of two versions turned out by Renault Sport..
This model, which I drove at launch is the only Megane Sport Tourer to be fitted with four-wheel steering, and the only car in this class to do so.
This imparted a driving experience that you would normally find on much more exotic cars and featured exceptional stability on bends.
Although the most expensive in the line up at launch, costing £27,450, the 114mph GT with its 1,600cc TCe petrol engine is the most refined and a showpiece of just what the burgeoning Renault brand is capable of delivering.
Complete with specially trimmed interior it has a genuine upmarket feel and looks good in every department.
Depsite its feisty performance of 0 to 60 in 7.4 seconds and a maximum of 143mph it is still rated at 47.1mpg with a CO2 figure of 134g/km - all very credible in a car that can carry the family and all its needs.