It is a formula that has achieved huge success. Built worldwide at six production sites in France, Spain, Turkey, Argentina and Brazil, with a new production agreement in the pipeline for cars to be made and sold in Russia - the Megane took 12.2% of the lower medium sector in Europe last year, some 580,000 cars in Europe. In Britain, it's the Scenic that dominates the sales charts, accounting for no less than 42.3% of Megane volume. Second is the five-door hatchback, tested here, which takes 40.6%.
The good news is that recent wholesale revisions to the range have introduced new engines, a facelift, more equipment and lower prices. There are also new versions which increase choice and give two distinct trim styles - Sport and Luxury. At entry level, the Liberte replaces RN, RT remains as before together with a sport variant, Alize and Alize Sport and RXE. A choice of five engines includes revised versions of the existing 1.4 and 1.9D but adds welcome new petrol units: a new 1.4 16-valve unit joins the existing 75bhp 8-valve 1.4 and replaces the previous 90bhp 8-valve 1.6, giving improved economy and extra flexibility.
The 1.6 16v unit already in use in the Laguna replaces the old 2.0-litre 8-valve engine with vastly improved economy while a new direct injection petrol 2.0-litre 16v 140bhp unit replaces the previous 150bhp 2.0-litre, once again giving much enhanced economy and flexibility. There are two diesels - a reworked version of the existing 1.9 naturally-aspirated unit with new cylinder head and piston design re-tuned for greater low-down pull, and the recently introduced direct injection 1.9dTi with noise-reducing modifications. For the first time, an automatic gearbox is available with the dTi engine.
Here, we try the 1.6 16v five-door hatch in top of the range RXE trim, priced at ú14,400 on the road.