What is it?
This is the new Renault Grand Scenic, the French brand’s latest iteration of its staple seven-seat MPV. The new MPV is based on the new Megane’s architecture, and Renault has endowed the Grand Scenic with two new engines.
Here we’re testing the Renault Grand Scenic 1.4 TCe 130 Dynamique, which is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine that Renault claims offers the power of a 1.8-litre, the torque of a 2.0-litre, but much lower CO2 output and fuel consumption. A 157bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel also makes its debut in the Renault Grand Scenic.
What’s it like?
The new Renault Grand Scenic 1.4 TCe 130 Dynamique is comfortable, spacious and very practical. The interior is a triumph of child-friendliness, with so many storage cubbies (40, if you’re counting) that school kids could hide in the car for whole terms without anyone finding them. The three central seats slide individually, and the front five headrests can be folded around weary heads to offer airliner seat-style support and sleeping potential.
The two rearmost seats are still uncomfortable for anybody bigger than a small child for long trips, even for the most tolerant of passengers. In fact, the rear-most area is best used as a 564-litre boot (702 litres with seats slid forward), when it will easily swallow all the paraphernalia of a modern family.
Unfortunately, changing the seating layout isn’t so simple. There’s some hefty tugging and pulling to be done to gain access to the rear two seats, as you need to fold the outer second-row seat down and then tip the whole thing forward. Thankfully, creating the flat boot floor or raising the rear two seats is a much simpler task.
The driving position is now lower and more ‘saloon-like’, and the suspension has been set up to produce less body roll. This makes the Grand Scenic feel like a truly well-sorted MPV, if not like the saloon car that Renault would have you compare it with.
The ride is excellent and, though the soft suspension results in a predictable rocking sensation over speed bumps, even the most severely broken road surfaces are absorbed without fuss. Well-judged steering weight also improves the driving experience and makes the car very easy to place on the road.
The 1.4 TCe engine is all that most Grand Scenic buyers could want. Noise is minimal, refinement is excellent and the engine spins freely enough and has a broad enough torque band that the 1457kg kerbweight doesn’t leave it feeling out of its depth. Still, at higher speeds the engine will need working hard, so if you plan on carrying seven people reguarly the diesel engines are the better bet.
The Renault Grand Scenic’s 1.4 TCe 130’s 173g/km CO2 output, 39.8mpg economy and 0-62mph time of 11.5sec is also competitive, but hardly ground-breaking in this segment.
Should I buy one?
If you’re looking for a spacious seven-seater that can cope with all the family’s needs in comfort and with some interesting flair, then yes. The Renault Grand Scenic is more practical and better to drive than ever, and deserves to remain the default small seven-seat MPV. But competition is strong, and with a Vauxhall Zafira or Citroen Grand C4 Picasso available at Grand Scenic prices there are plenty of reasons to shop around before signing the cheque.