Here's the Renault Grand Scenic’s raison d’etre. If there’s one thing that will strike you if you’ve ever been inside the previous-generation Renault MPV, it’s how well constructed this new model feels.
In design it’s partly inspired by the latest Mégane. The air vents, stereo and climate controls occupy the same positions as in the hatch, but materials differ in places and feel of a higher quality in the Grand Scenic.
The major dials – speedo, rev counter, fuel gauge and so on – are all sited on a digital screen that has an excellent graphical quality and is easy to read.
Slightly less convincing is the adjacent screen for the satellite navigation system (now standard across the range), although it’s by no means poor and, developed by Carminat TomTom, is relatively easy to use. Its controls nestle on the centre console, and if you want that to slide (which, to unleash the Grand Scenic’s full versatility, you will), you have to pay extra.
The front seats are comfortable, as is the widely adjustable driving position, and the centre and rear rows are as spacious as one can reasonably expect within the confines of this car’s size.
With all seven seats in place, boot space is limited to 208 litres, but there’s a neat storage cubby just inside the boot opening to stow the luggage cover when it’s not in use. With the two rearmost seats folded (they stow separately) you get a rather more useful boot volume, and with the three centre seats removed the load area is a full two metres long and the volume a whopping 2063 litres, turning the Renault Grand Scenic into a small van in all but name.
There are, however, a few interior foibles. There is no shortage of storage cubbies overall, but the two front cupholders are easily obstructed by the sliding console. The three seats in the centre row tumble forwards but would benefit from being capable of folding flat into the floor (as the rearmost pair do) rather than having to be removed, because they are heavy.
The rear doors, as with most rivals, hinge rather than sliding like the Mazda 5’s. And for those who prefer a proper spare wheel to a can of repair foam (as we do), that’s a cost option. And even then it’s a space saver hung beneath the car body.