Automatic transmission options with diesel engines are still rare in Europe so Renault is bucking the trend by offering a self-shifter with its 1.5 dCi 100 engine in the Mégane line.

It will be available with certain trim levels on the Mégane hatchback, saloon and wagon.

The intelligent, four-speed 'Pro-active' automatic gearbox has a 'flick-shift' manual mode and adjusts automatic shift patterns to an individual's driving style.

Renault said the power and torque characteristics of the 1.5-llitre diesel engine suit the transmission well with peak torque of 200Nm developed at only 1900rpm and 100hp at 4000rpm.

Acceleration of 0-62mph (100km/h) does however take a leisurely 14.7 seconds  and top speed is 108mph. Fuel economy is 48.7mpg on the EU combined cycle.

Renault claims rivals Ford, Peugeot, Toyota and Vauxhall (Opel) do not currently offer a diesel automatic option on the Focus, 307, Corolla or new Astra.