The wraps came off the all-new, fourth-generation Renault Megane at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week, which pushes upmarket in an effort to tempt premium brand buyers.

From launch, the line-up will be headed by a high-performance GT model, with a 202bhp petrol engine, dual-clutch gearbox, four-wheel-steering and many bells and whistles. According to Renault, the GT was “created in association with Renaultsport,” so it should be good to drive. But the on-paper spec suggests it will be more of a fast cruiser than a Tarmac terror; the new Megane RS will fill that role.

At the other end of the range, the dCi 110 diesel with manual gearbox combo – which is expected to account for the bulk of sales – will return claimed combined fuel economy of 85.6mpg and emit 86g/km of CO2. 90bhp and 130bhp diesels will also be available, alongside 100bhp and 130bhp TCe petrol engines. A dual-clutch gearbox is optional with the dCi 110 and TCe 130 engines.

All of which is very helpful, but that alone won’t be enough to tempt buyers away from the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class as Renault hopes. The old Megane was never the most stylish of cars and perceived quality wasn’t great, so those areas have come in for particular attention.

The Megane’s styling draws on themes seen on every Renault from the Twingo up, but its surfacing and detailing is, appropriately, more grown up than on its smaller siblings. Indeed, it looks like a lot like the bigger Talisman.

It certainly looks suitably classy, with a prominent Renault diamond badge front and centre, LED daytime running lights (full LED lightning comes as standard on high-spec models) and strategic chrome detailing.

Interior design has improved dramatically, with a clean and simple layout and higher quality materials. High-end models get an 8.7-inch, portrait touchscreen to control the infotainment (lesser versions have a 7-inch landscape ‘screen). Other tech includes a head-up display, 7-inch TFT instrument display, BOSE stereo, many driver assist and safety systems and ‘Multi-Sense’ drive mode selector.

The mid-size hatchback sector is one of the most competitive there is. Sales volumes are significant, but there are a lot of talented cars vying for a share of the market – I count 22 in total. Renault is hoping the new Megane can carve a bigger piece of the pie; on first impression it might well be able to do so.

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By Only Motors