- We like...Safety, drive, prices
- We don't...Steering, forward visibility
New compact MPV is big on space for seven and rides like a dream.Should you buy when it arrives here next month?
Thank Renault. Because of the original Scenic and the revolution that it sparked, our cars suddenly got way more useful and easier to live with.Twelve years later, out rolls the third-generation of this super-versatile little bus. But is it another revolution in the making, or just the latest thing? On first clapping your eyes on one, you’ll think it’s the second of these. Where Renault once made cars looking distinctly unlike anyone else’s, they now play safe.
It closely resembles the current Megane hatchback, which looks clean and modern. But it’s not a shape that lingers in the mind. Here, we’re driving the Grand Scenic, which in the UK will come with seven seats as standard. There’ll also be a ‘regular’ Scenic that has spaces for five aboard, but that’ll not arrive until later in the year. Six of the seats tip and fold under command. The rear pair disappear into the boot floor, one-by-one, until needed, while the mid-row slide, fold and tip up individually, while the front passenger’s fold flat. It’s clever, but not as smart as any of these cars think they are, because to tip and adjust seats as you wish you must first arrange them at a suitable distance from one another. It takes a fair bit of jockeying to get them just-so.
So far, so good, but there’s nothing that the cars you’d buy otherwise (such a Vauxhall Zafira or Volkswagen Touran) can’t do. Renault says there’s more knee and leg-room between its rows of chairs than in the competition, allowing (short-ish) adults to sit in the rear seats. Certainly, there is enough space out back for grown-ups but clambering into the back still requires that you’re skinny and agile.
There are also as many as 40 storage bins, trays, shelves and other places to keep your stuff – or to lose it (try hunting for a phone across that many locations when you’re already running late).
The dash is, again, much alike the Megane’s, which means that it is faced with costly soft-feel plastics but without much in the way of visual flair. The instruments are grouped high up and centrally in a display that is a visual treat, running nicely wrought and high-definition graphics. A built-in Tom-Tom sat-nav is a £450 option, but we’d rather buy a stick-on one and save over £300.
It’s a lovely thing to ride in, giving a smooth but not over-soft ride that effectively smothers the bumps. The front screen is now huge, pushing the front pillar back and out to give a wrap around affect that’s good for the view out and brings plenty of light inside. Driving is smooth and easy thanks to light, well weighted gears and pedals but the steering lacks sufficient feel to let you instinctively place the car just where you’d want it. And the set-back driving position could leave a shorter driver rather guessing where the nearside wing sits exactly.
We tried Renault's new, small but strong 1.4 turbo petrol, which spins well and is powerful, suiting the car well. We suspect, however, that most owners will prefer diesel power for its lower CO2 and better fuel economy.
As you’d want from a car-maker leading on safety, this Renault’s up to the mark, packing six airbags and a full set of other safety and driver aids.
Go for the smallest diesel engine in the line-up and it’ll be notably low on CO2 emissions, aceing even eco-rivals such as VW’s Touran Bluemotion.
It’s also a bargain if you go for a car low in the range, though prices escalate rapidly as you move through the line-up.
The Grand Scenic is keenly priced, safe, useful and nice to travel in. Maybe we’re wrong to ask more. But when earlier Scenics had a true sense of style, this one just blends into the pack.
To view and buy new and second-hand Renault Grand Scenics, click on motors.co.uk
- Engines1.4 petrol
- 0-60 mph10.7secs
- Insurance groups
Motors.co.uk value verdict: