The previous generation Megane was a distinctive car, perhaps best associated with those 'shakin' that ass' commercials which were of dubious taste but at least succeeded in placing the Renault in the nation's collective consciousness.
Look at the current generation car and you could be forgiven for feeling wistful over the old model's distinctive and challenging styling. It might have been a lot of things to a lot of people, but at least you wouldn't lose it in a car park. You can't help but feel that Renault moved a step backwards in making the current car so much more conservative.
The model that the styling does work on is the more aggressive three-door version of the Megane. Like the Vauxhall Astra, Renault has tried to give its three-door model a more coupe-like look, with a sloping roof and bolder lines. It works, to an extent, but it does come at a premium over the five-door model and only goes to show how dull that car is.
You can see immediately upon approaching the Megane, however, that Renault has clearly taken care to improve the quality of the car compared to previous models and introduces some elegant touches from the bigger Laguna. The Megane feels much more solid and most of the dashboard and other areas you come into contact with are made up of pleasant soft-touch plastics.
The Megane's handling has become slightly anaesthetised in this quest for an effortless, grown-up car. It feels like all of the interest has been dialled out of the entire car, not just the styling. It handles safely enough, but lacks anything that might engage a dedicated driver. Refinement is reasonable, but the ride can take a while to settle down over urban bumps. Motorways are despatched fairly effortlessly though.
Short of the frenzied Renaultsport Megane, which takes some dedication and focus to buy and run, our pick of the sensible engines is the 1.5-litre diesel unit, which will achieve nearly 63mpg according to Renault's figures. That's mighty impressive economy for a family hatchback.
In terms of the practicalities, the boot is large for the class and the Megane comes with a decent standard specification despite being priced cheaper than most rivals - whether you think the styling is a backwards step or not, you can't argue with the blunt economics of it if you're spending your own cash. Business drivers might look elsewhere.