£23,190 - £29,700 Price range
Renault doesn’t need any help when it comes to producing MPVs – it’s Espace of the early ‘80s was the class’ original trailblazer – so we can rightfully expect a lot of its latest offering. Called the Renault Grand Scenic, it looks to rekindle past magic by offering customers something new – an MPV that’s practical and desirable.
The latter of those points is subjective of course, but parked next to rivals such as the Volkswagen Touran and Citroen Grand C4 Picasso it’s hard to imagine the Renault’s concept-car styling not grabbing all the attention – particularly as every model comes sporting huge 20-inch alloy wheels.
With a wheelbase that’s 20mm longer than the regular Scenic, the Grand has more interior space and the boon of an extra pair of seats that fold up from the boot. It’s an infinitely practical setup with seats that can be dropped at the touch of a button on the infotainment screen. With the rearmost seats hidden away you get a 596-litre loadspace and Renault has also stuffed the cabin with additional cubbies offering 63-litres worth of extra room.
It’s a practical interior then, but not one that is particularly inspiring to look at, especially when you consider the exuberant appearance of the exterior. Still, the 8.7-inch infotainment screen – available on Dynamique S Nav models and above – does much to brighten things up thanks to its vibrant and detailed graphics. Overall quality is decent with a clean, simple dash design and primary plastics that feel high-quality – but it fails to match the inspiration of the exterior.
Accurate steering and a wider track than the old model give the Scenic the feel of a high-seated Megane to drive, but the large wheels mean the ride rarely settles.
There’s not much to get excited about in the engine range either, but it would be wrong to expect that. Likely to be the bestseller is the 1.5-litre diesel – which already plies its trade in the Megane and Kadjar – it’s performance is far from startling, but it is a smooth runner and is capable of returning fuel economy of more than 70mpg. In short, it does everything a family needs. If it’s an automatic your after, diesel is the sole route.
For pottering around town and short trips the 1.2-litre TCe 130 petrol does the job and is cheaper to buy than the diesel. And, if neither of those appeal, you can also choose from an entry-level 1.0-litre petrol, two more powerful 1.6-litre diesels and a super-economical diesel-electric hybrid.
Four trim levels are available and standard kit includes a seven-inch touchscreen, cruise control and automatic emergency braking, which can detect people as well as cars. To equip the iPad-like, 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen you’ll need to upgrade to the Dynamique S Nav trim, our pick, which also adds a panoramic sunroof that fills the dark interior with light.
Save for the addition of two more seats, the Grand Scenic’s interior is exactly the same as the standard car’s so the design is a little plain, but decently built, with mid-range models and above getting an eye-catching portrait infotainment screen that’s unique for the class.
The interior boasts great flexibility thanks to the electronically operated folding rear seats, which can be dropped via a control panel in the boot, or from the infotainment screen upfront. It’s another class first.
Renault Grand Scenic passenger space
While the Grand Scenic’s spare pair of seats are a big selling point, in reality, they’re best suited to children unless you’re travelling short distances. The remaining five seats have plenty of room for adults, though, even if they can’t match the commodious feel of the VW Touran.
Renault Grand Scenic boot space
Although the Renault’s 596-litre boot (rear seats down) isn’t the most spacious – the Volkswagen Touran’s is a substantial 147-litre bigger – it’s still perfectly big enough for a week away with the family. Drop all the rear seats and the Scenic has the capacity to rival a small van, although Renault has yet to quote an exact figure.
The Grand Scenic is offered with a choice of four trim levels and even basic Espression+ models come with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, cruise control and automatic emergency braking which can detect people as well as cars – the only system capable of this in the class.
Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique Nav
Dynamique Nav-trimmed models get all round parking sensors and look smarter thanks to a smattering of exterior chrome that sets of those huge alloy wheels nicely. Inside, you get keyless entry, a 3D-sound stereo, cool ambient lighting, rear picnic tables and a centre console that can act as a huge storage cubby up front or slide back to split the rear bench – handy if you have warring kids. Dynamique Nav is also the first trim level to come with the remotely operated folding rear seats and, as the name hints, sat-nav as standard.
Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique Nav S
Dynamique S Nav is the pick of the range and brings a panoramic sunroof, the lovely 8.7-inch touchscreen, and a colour head-up display to keep your eyes focused on the road.
Renault Grand Scenic Signature Nav
Finally, there’s Signature Nav, which sits at the top of the range and is the closest the Scenic offers to a luxury model. As a result, you get an interior that is kitted out in black leather, front seats that are electrically adjustable and a Nappa leather steering wheel. Additional kit includes powerful full-LED headlights and fog lights that follow the direction of the steering wheel.
To say Renault has taken a punt with its new Scenic would be a mild understatement, but something radical needed to be done in a segment that used to be a big money spinner for the company. Its sharp styling – and those huge wheels – give the Scenic looks that no other car in the class can match, and that’s before you consider the portrait infotainment screen and the clever interior. It’s a better outright family car than the Citroen Grand Picasso – no mean feat believe us – and, while the VW Touran is more effective in almost every way, it lacks the feel-good factor that the Renault has in spades.