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Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique TomTom dCi 130 Stop & Start

Click to view picture gallery“Downsizing. Some can, some can’t.
  Families with children, empty-nesters
  or active couples needing to carry
  lots of recreational equipment, and
  less able people who need easy
  access, supportive seats and wheel-
  chair space — for all of them, down-
  sizing is not an easy option
...”


BUT FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE there's help at hand in the shape of Renault's five-seat Scenic MPV and the even more practical seven-seat Grand Scenic. And both ranges are now available with a new, lower-capacity 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine: the 130bhp Energy dCi 130. This offers the best fuel economy and performance (and lowest emissions) of any MPV powered by a similar-sized engine.

The former 1.9-litre diesel had the same power output but when it comes to emissions, the new 1.6 unit beats it hands down with CO2 slashed by more than a fifth; from 149 down to 115g/km. This in turn reduces the BIK company car tax from 21% to 13%. And the savings continue to stack up: no road tax in the First Year and then just 30 in subsequent years and, rounding-off the engine's array of money-saving abilities, a combined official fuel economy improved by 25% to 64.2mpg.

“The Grand Scenic’s
CO2 is slashed from
149 to 115
g/km which
reduces company car
tax from 21% to 13%.
And the savings
continue to stack up with
no First Year road tax
and then just 30 in
subsequent years and,
rounding-off the
money-saving features,
a combined official fuel
economy improved by
25% to 64.2mpg
...”
During my time with the Grand Scenic dCi 130 I averaged a rather disappointing 50.9mpg and that was driving with only one passenger and some weekend luggage on a long journey covering motorways and all types of A and B roads and in all traffic conditions.

According to the on-board computer, with just me and no luggage, the Scenic returned 60.1mpg driving on A roads and travelling at the usual 50mph dictated by the volume of traffic.

The killer, in terms of fuel economy, for this particular engine appeared to be travelling at 70mph on motorways and coping with A and B road hills which saw consumption reduce significantly to 50.9mpg 13.3mpg less than the official Combined Cycle figure.

This confirms that some modern 1.6-litre petrol and turbodiesel engines fitted in larger vehicles are not as fuel efficient under-load as their laboratory obtained official mpg figures suggest. Being of smaller capacity, even though they produce similar amounts of power and torque as larger units, they have to work harder and that means more fuel used. However, the official homologation and type approval paperwork will show high mpg and low CO2 emissions and those are the selling and tax level highlights that influence buyers.

While the 1.6 turbodiesel may have to work harder in the Grand Scenic, it's no slouch zero to 62mph takes 11.1 seconds and the top speed is 121mph. In everyday driving, its torque (236lb ft from 1,750rpm; a 14lb ft increase over the former, same bhp 1.9-litre diesel) also appeals. Paired with a six-speed manual 'box, this unit is willing and responsive if just not that fuel efficient in real-life conditions. Also helping Scenic owners to save money, Renault offers a fixed-cost service plan covering three years or 30,000 miles that costs a very reasonable 249.

However, for financially constrained owners, buying into models with great new engines is not cheap even it there are savings to be had running them. My test model, the Grand Scenic dCi 130 Stop & Start in Dynamique TomTom specification, costs 22,200. And this can easily be much more if you decide to add the BOSE pack (1,500 and includes upgraded sound system, front and rear parking sensors, Bose branded trim and carpet mats).

Other options include Bi-Xenon headlights, emergency spare wheel, rear parking sensors and powered sunroof. Owners wanting a more bespoke vehicle might consider the Leather Pack (1,500) and Convenience Pack (590). Many of these options are nice to have but in most cases they do not add much in the way of trade-in value when the time comes to sell so choose the options you really need; not what is just nice-to-have.

“The Grand Scenic is
functional, roomy,
comfortable, easy to
drive with good
visibility and easy
to live with, and its
three rows of seating
offer versatility.
The second row has
three individual seats;
the third row two.
The third row also folds
down completely flat
into the floor
to create a largish
load space
...”
Fortunately the seven-seat Grand Scenic comes well specified standard (Expression) kit includes all the features we now expect: power windows and door mirrors, stability control, a raft of air bags and safety features, keyless Renault card entry, on-board computer, a good sound system and air conditioning. Topping the Expression trim is I-Music and Dynamic TomTom.

The top-spec Dynamique TomTom model has additional equipment such as sports style upholstery and trim, 16-inch alloys, TomTom live navigation, automatic lights and wipers, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic electronic parking brake, cruise control with speed limiter, tinted glass, sunblinds for the rear doors and aviation tables on the back of the front seats.

The Grand Scenic is functional, roomy, comfortable, easy to drive with good visibility and easy to live with, and its three rows of seating offers versatility. The second row has three individual seats; the third row two. The third row also folds down completely flat into the floor to create a largish load space.

Unfortunately the second row's seats are heavy to fold and they only tumble forwards to stow and neither do they fold into the floor for an even larger flat load bay. However, there are under-floor load storage boxes.

With all seven seats in use the boot can take 208 litres of luggage; this increases through stages of seat-folding to a genuinely massive 2,063 litres. Based on the platform of the latest Meganne, the Grand Scenic is a sensible size (4.5 metres long about the same as a modern family hatchback) and easy to park.

Against? Not the most practical folding seat configuration and this Dynamique TomTom dCi 130 Stop & Start version is expensive because of its new high-tech engine unless a big discount can be negotiated. However, if the new 1.6 dCi diesel is not the ideal choice because of the purchase cost, there are other less costly power unit options: 110bhp 1.6 and 130bhp 1.4 TCe turbocharged petrol units, both with manual 'boxes; 140bhp 2.0 petrol with CVT auto 'box; and 110bhp 1.5 dCi turbodiesel with either manual or auto transmissions. My other gripe is that real-life fuel economy doesn't match the official figure.

In its favour, the Scenic is a stylish, sensibly-sized, seven-seater with lots of load space and a low-tax new engine. It's also easy to park, easy to drive, rides comfortably and the compliant suspension absorbs the shocks of all but the deepest potholes. In most ways it's a very good, user-friendly package for customers wanting a vehicle capable of satisfying many motoring needs.
David Miles

Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique TomTom dCi 130 Stop & Start
| 22,200
Maximum speed: 121mph | 0-62mph: 11.1 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 50.9mpg
Power: 130bhp | Torque: 236lb ft | CO2 115g/km