Inside it’s a mixed bag. Some of the materials feel distinctly lightweight – especially the scratchy, shiny plastic on the lower half of the dashboard. Mind you, it’s no worse than the Ford Focus’s effort, and it’s more clearly laid out too; what’s more, those chunky, suede-effect seats lend a rakish air to the Megane’s interior that’ll help you see past its foibles.

Will it put a smile on your face? Probably. It looks slick inside and out, and you’ll likely grow to love the soothing driving experience – especially if you cover lots of miles. 

The Telegraph verdict

This Megane feels like something of a flawed diamond. One minute you’re smitten with it; the next, one of its irritating niggles – that fiddly entertainment system, or those cheap dashboard plastics, for example – taps you on the shoulder and reminds you it isn’t perfect.

Which is a shame, because for the most part, this really is a pleasurable car to cruise around in, enjoying the gentle way it rides bumps and the silky smooth acceleration while letting its clever drivetrain maximise your fuel efficiency. 

Good enough, even, to forgive its niggles – and forget about the way its value is quietly falling further off a cliff with every mile you drive it? Well, that all depends on whether you’re paying the bill or not. 

As a private buy, the high price and poor resale returns make the Megane hard to recommend, hence the three-star rating. But if you’re considering one as a company car, you should still give it a try regardless, because when you aren’t picking up the tab, there’s a lot here to like.

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Telegraph Rating: Three stars out of five

The facts

On test: Renault Megane 1.6 E-Tech 160 RS Line

How much? £32,685 on the road

How fast? 111mph, 0-62mph in 9.8sec

How economical? 217.3mpg (WLTP Combined)

Engine gearbox: 1,598cc four-cylinder petrol engine, 158bhp, multi-mode automatic gearbox, front-wheel drive

The electric bits: AC electric motor & AC starter-generator with 9.8kWh battery, 3.6kW on-board charger, Type 2/CCS charging socket

Electric range: 30 miles (WLTP Combined)

CO2 emissions: 30g/km (WLTP Combined)

VED: £0 first year, then £140/year

Warranty: 5 years / 100,000 miles

Boot size: 447 litres

Spare wheel as standard: No

The rivals

Kia Ceed SW 1.6 PHEV 3 ADAP DCT 139bhp, 188.3mpg, £30,745 on the road

The Ceed SW doesn’t quite have the flair of the Megane, but it’s cheaper to buy – and crucially, predicted to hold its value much better, probably thanks in part to Kia’s longer warranty and better reputation for reliability. There are plenty of toys on board (this ADAP version stands for ‘Advanced Driver Assistance Pack’, though you can have it without and save even more cash), and while Kia’s plug-in drivetrain isn’t quite as smooth or as sophisticated as Renault’s, it’s still pretty slick.

Skoda Superb 1.4 TSi iV 218 SE Technology 215bhp, 230.8mpg, £33,590 on the road

It’s a big hatchback, rather than an estate, but for not much more cash than the Megane, this Skoda Superb hatchback offers you lots more space, with more power, a greater electric range and an even lower CO2 emissions figure into the bargain. Granted, the Megane gets a few more fripperies, but this SE Technology version still has a pretty extensive equipment list and, of course, it probably won’t shed its value as quickly.

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Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 2.0 Hybrid GR Sport 182bhp,56.4mpg, £31,085 on the road

If you haven’t got somewhere to plug in – or can’t be bothered to do so regularly – this Corolla makes a lot more sense. It’s a traditional hybrid rather than a plug-in, which explains the discrepancy in the consumption figures; in the real world, you’ll probably find it’s barely any less economical. It’s also cheaper to buy and just as comfortable as the Megane, and its superb reputation for reliability means nothing should go wrong. 

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