Renault’s less radical Megane still has lots to attract families, says Iain Dooley, PA motoring writer.

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Engines – Like its close rival Peugeot-Citroen, Renault has been a successful proponent of the humble diesel engine. For high-mileage drivers the units offered with the Megane deliver high levels of refinement and economy. For the rest of us the quiet, and sometimes turbocharged, petrol motors are no less appealing.

Exterior – A departure from the more radical previous-generation car, this Megane presents a more streamlined and less challenging profile. Don’t be surprised if, from a distance, you confuse it with Ford’s Focus or Vauxhall’s Astra though.

Interior – Clean, simple lines and sound ergonomics mark out the Megane’s cabin as one of the best in its class. Depending on the variant chosen, the car’s remote audio controls are an object lesson in how to get it right. As for occupant space, the car’s streamlined profile does eat into the available rear headroom, but it remains a solid performer.

Driving – Like so many French cars the Megane delivers a typically supple ride that’s biased more towards comfort than outright performance. Bar the extreme Renaultsport variants, the engine line-up is modest in terms of power output as Renault’s focus has switched to cutting emissions and fuel consumption for both petrol and diesel units.

Ownership – With generous levels of standard equipment and a higher quality cabin than before, this Megane is a reasonable choice for anyone seeking an affordable five-door hatchback. Rear cabin space isn’t class-leading but there’s plenty of space for children. With the promise of low CO2 and fuel consumption it’s also a car that’s not expensive to run.

What to look for – Being pitched as a family car it’s wise to look out for damage to the cabin plastics and upholstery that might prove costly to repair. The Megane is also a car used by companies, although very high mileages don’t have to mean avoiding a particular car if the paperwork is in order. Crucially, though, a test-drive is essential to ensure everything works and makes all the right noises.

Model history – 2008, Renault introduces its latest-generation Megane five and three-door hatchback. Lots of choice in terms of engines – petrol and diesel – plus a good level of standard kit and safety provision and an auto gearbox option on selected models.

Reasons to buy – Looks, value for money, diesel engine performance.

Reasons to beware – Design compromises rear occupant space, rear loadspace access, lots of competition in this sector.

Pick of the range – Megane 1.5 dCi Expression 106bhp.

What to pay – 2008 58 £7,250; 2009 09 £7,900; 2009 59 £8,275; 2010 10 £8,950; 2010 60 £9,375; 2011 11 £10,175. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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