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Renault Grand Scenic 2.0 dCi 160 Dynamique

Click to view picture gallery“The new Renault Grand Scenic
is a seven-seat, five-door, medium
  sized MPV. It looks smart and
stylish, is good to drive and offers
  much more for a little less

THE NEW RENAULT GRAND SCENIC is more spacious, better equipped, with higher quality and it's also safer, more recyclable and cheaper to run than the previous versions. If those reasons to buy don't impress cost-conscious families, nothing will.

With the British finding more good reasons to stay at home for their holidays — the horribly-named 'staycation' — there is more reason to opt for a versatile and well equipped family vehicle where comfort and space are priorities and good looks desirable. Not just for holidays, but for everyday life as well.

The new Renault Grand Scenic is a seven-seat, five-door, medium sized MPV. Prices now start from 15,795, rising to 24,245 but that covers a wide range of petrol and diesel engines and a very wide choice of trim and equipment levels plus lots of extra cost options.

The French are good at MPVs: Peugeot and Citroen have loads of them as do Renault, who offer the box-shaped but practical Kangoo, the stylish new five-seater Scenic, the posh seven-seat Grand Scenic and the huge Grand Espace.

Modern families may not need seven seats for everyday use but occasionally the children want their friends to tag along or, more likely, modern families want four/five seats and lots of load space. With its three rows of seats, the Grand Scenic easily meets these customer requirements.

With seven seats in use there is 208 litres of space; fold the rear row away into the floor and that space increases to 564 litres and because it is a box shape with an upright rear tailgate, all the space is useable — so even the family dog will be happy. Active couples may prefer to fold down the rear two rows of seats for a massive 2,063 litres of room for recreational toys and tools. And for good measure, the 40 stowage spaces add another 83 litres of space for drinks bottles, snacks, maps, books and family clutter. In fact, just remembering where everything is can be a problem!

This is the second generation Grand Scenic and the third model to be launched in Renault's latest Megane family, following the Hatch and the Coupe. Compared to the previous Grand Scenic, the new one is longer (+62mm), taller (+9mm), wider (+26mm) and has a longer wheelbase (+34mm).

Increased cabin dimensions ensure more room for everyone on board, with best-in-class space for second and third row passengers, say Renault. While the third row of seats fold easily in and out of the floor, the middle row (all individual seats with independent fore and aft slide functions) do not fold completely flat. Consequently the load floor in the middle of the vehicle is not totally flat, and it is also difficult to get these seats in and out of the vehicle should you feel so inclined.

There are currently seven engine options: three petrol and four diesels, ranging from 1.4 to 2.0-litres. All the engines are new or revised to offer generally more power, less CO2 emissions and more mpg.

It impressed me
with its vastly improved
styling, more user-
friendly space and,
better quality interior.
And the
drive has improved
There are two all-new units: the 1.4 TCe (Turbo Control Efficiency) 130 and the 2.0 dCi 160 FAP, plus the recently introduced 2.0 VVT 140 petrol unit with CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) as standard.

Renault's first DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) will appear in 2010. For the tax conscious driver, the 1.5 dCi 106 has the lowest CO2 emissions of any seven-seat compact MPV and at 135g/km the road tax will cost 120 a year until next April when it drops to 110. Business car users will also like the low 18% BIK charge. Overall, the new and revised engines offer savings of 20 to 30 per cent in running costs over the previous ones.

The Grand Scenic has four equipment grades: Extreme, Expression, Dynamique and Privilege. Standard equipment is high and includes a stereo sound system with RDS, CD, and MP3 functions, air conditioning and, importantly, electronic control stability or ESP. The top-of-the-range Privilege offers dual-zone climate control, powered folding mirrors, rear parking sensors and a sliding centre storage unit.

There is also a wide range of equipment options including the debut of the integrated Carminat TomTom navigation system, rear parking camera and adaptable front and rear headrests. Further options include 17 and 18 inch alloy wheels, Arkamys audio system with 6-CD multi-changer, Bluetooth and 3D full colour DVD satellite navigation, electric panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlights.

So, a wide range of engines and equipment levels to suit the family budget or, if it's a company-provided car, the tax burden the driver wants to take on. Generally, MPVs do not get changed every three years like a car; they stay in the household longer and so the choice is all about a long-term investment that suits the needs for both now and in the future.

The Nissan Qashqai, not exactly an MPV but it doubles as one (plus it has the styling of an SUV/4x4 even if the majority only have two-wheel drive), really resurrected public interest in these types of vehicles and the Renault Grand Scenic offers a really good alternative.

It impressed me with its vastly improved styling, more user-friendly space, certainly its better quality interior trim and the drive has improved. The roadholding is more controlled with less body roll, more front-end grip and a firmer but still comfortable ride.

The steering doesn't offer much feedback to the driver and was very keen to constantly self-centre. The 160bhp four-cylinder turbodiesel 2.0-litre dCi engine felt strong and responsive in gears up to and including fourth. Fifth and sixth gears are 'tall' ratios to get the best official mpg and lowest CO2 figures, so lots of gear changing is required at mid-range speeds.

The electronic instrument display, which includes a digital speedometer, looks good and is easy to read — more good reasons proving that today's MPVs are not just about multiple seating.

Pride of ownership and style are important for buyers even in these recessionary times. The new Grand Scenic doesn't shout 'family minibus' at you and whether it is used for business, leisure or pleasure it does a very good job.

Expect to see lots of them carrying the kids to school, carrying the family on their UK 'staycation' and, during the winter, carrying the Christmas tree and festive shopping and probably heading for the ski slopes too.

Not so grand are the recent price increase, the fact that the middle row of seats do not fold into the floor, rear visibility for parking is difficult and the tall fifth and sixth gearing means lots of gear-changing on A and B roads. Offsetting that, the Grand Scenic offers stylish yet versatile upmarket family transport that doesn't shout 'children carrier' at you or anybody else, comes with a 5-star safety rating and much improved interior quality and it's good to drive. — David Miles

Renault Grand Scenic 2.0 dCi 160 Dynamique
| 22,045
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 10.1 seconds | Overall MPG: 35.8mpg
Power: 160bhp | Torque: 280lb ft | CO2 173g/km | Insurance group 14