When's it going?

Europe's best-selling car, in the shape of the old Mégane, has gone and now there is a new one. It looks pretty much like the old one, down to that prominent rear end, but there are some new engine options.

What's good about it?

You can't ignore the Mégane, which had challenging looks when it was new and there are certainly no shortage of engine options from the very mild 1.4 to the strong 2.0-litre turbo. Most buyers, though, will go for the efficient and frugal diesels from the relaxed 1.5 to the sportier 1.9. It is surprisingly refined although the engines can be on the noisy side.

The driving position is fine as you sit high with a decent view out the front, and it is comfy enough. For a Renault the interior quality has been a nice surprise.

Renault has set out its stall as being a safety one, which explains the five-star NCAP safety rating. So every model has anti-lock brakes and a whole bunch of passive safety features with three-door models having no less than 10 airbags while five-door models have eight. A good car to have a crash in.

There are loads of Méganes to choose from, from the simple hatch to the clever Scenic, the even bigger Grand Scenic and a Coupé-Cabriolet with a folding metal roof.

What's bad about it?

Yes, that funky styling has a lot to answer for. The big "shaking that ass" of a rear end, to quote an appalling series of advertisements, means the boot is not as big as it looks. The rear end sets a new record for blind spots, so not the easiest car to reverse.

Roadholding is fine, but the electric power steering is lifeless. As a result, the fast version of the Mégane, the 2.0T and Trophy, is less than exciting to drive.

How much?

Renault's decision to keep the new model's prices on a par with the old one should mean sound deals. There are plenty of good internet brokers such as Simpledeal.co.uk, which offer the folding roofed CC 1.6 Dynamique at £14,595, a saving of almost £4,000. Car supermarkets can sometimes save you a touch more, providing you know what you are buying. Motorpoint.co.uk 0870 1209 626 offers a 1.9 Dynamique at £12,599 saving you £,5200.

Any snags?

There was one recall in 2004 to rectify the brake pipes, which were located too close to the front discs. Owners report a lot of niggly problems with electrics, motors connected to anything from sunroof to self-levelling headlights, while the fit and finish is poor.

Fact file

Launched: 2002

Engine: 1.4, 1.6, 2.0litre; 1.5, 1.9 dci 120

Performance: top speed 116mph, 0-60mph in 11.8 seconds

Economy: 41.5mpg

Safety: NCAP five stars

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