On pa­per, the only thing these three con­tenders have in com­mon is that they are fam­ily sa­loons. But in ac­tu­al­ity, each one is pur­pose-built to meet the pri­or­i­ties of three dif­fer­ent types of fam­ily-car buy­ers. The Re­nault Me­gane Sedan caters to fam­ily men seek­ing a run­about with a fo­cus on style, com­fort and tech­nol­ogy. The Me­gane’s strengths are its cushy ride and cool cabin, which fea­tures mood light­ing and an in­stru­ment clus­ter with vari­able lay­outs.

The Me­gane, how­ever, doesn’t do as well in terms of space and per­for­mance. Its rear ac­com­mo­da­tion is the tight­est here, and its dual-clutch gear­box isn’t as quick as the Skoda Oc­tavia’s. But if you can over­look these short­com­ings, the Me­gane Sedan will make you a happy fam­ily man.

En­thu­si­asts who be­came fam­ily men will have trou­ble turn­ing a blind eye to the Honda Civic Turbo. The Civic’s un­abashedly sporty in­te­rior and ex­cel­lent driv­ing po­si­tion are as hard to ig­nore as its po­tent drivetrain, which en­ables it to de­liver the zip­pi­est per­for­mance of the bunch.

What buy­ers also can­not ig­nore, how­ever, is that the Civic’s ath­leti­cism gives it a greater thirst for petrol. And at press time, the Civic’s list price of $123,999 also makes it sig­nif­i­cantly more ex­pen­sive than its two ri­vals in this story. But if you can stretch your bud­get, this is one saloon you’d want to have.

If be­ing able to stretch out in a prac­ti­cal and spa­cious car is your pri­or­ity, the Skoda Oc­tavia should be at the top of your list. Dur­ing our drive, the fast­back im­presses us with its com­modi­ous boot, roomy back­seat and user-friendly cock­pit.

Less com­pelling, how­ever, are the rel­a­tively rougher plas­tics used in the in­te­rior and the firmer than ex­pected ride, which makes this Czech num­ber less comfy on road trips.

Also, the 1-litre Oc­tavia is the only car here that is pe­nalised with a $10,000 VES sur­charge. With­out the penalty, the Skoda’s value propo­si­tion might have made it the most sen­sa­tional saloon in this story.

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