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To make matters worse, the last version felt distinctly outclassed towards the end of its life. With this all-new fourth-generation model, though, Renault promises greater all-round sophistication and more joie de vivre. It’s been developed from the ground up to renew its battle with big players like the Ford FocusSeat Leon and VW Golf. There’s a handsome and muscular exterior, and a smart new high-tech interior that contains all the modern safety kit and all the executive toys you’d expect to see only on much pricier cars.

It also comes with a range of petrol and diesel engines that include a 1.5-litre diesel with low CO2 emissions to suit company car buyers, and a 202bhp 1.6-litre petrol for those searching for more zip.

Read on over the next few pages and we’ll tell you what it's like to drive, how it stacks up against those rivals and we'll also choose our favourite engines and trims.

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