What is it?
It’s the most frugal entrant in Renault’s 2012 model year Grand Scenic people carrier range – the 1.5-litre dCi 110 Stop and Start.
It is also the only new seven-seater on sale in the UK that qualifies for a £20 tax disc. And for benefit-in-kind company car tax at less than 16 per cent. And for the government’s 100 per cent first-year ‘capital allowance’ tax relief scheme, which is increasingly important for fleet operators.
It’s a three-row, one-and-a-half tonne family car that, Renault claims, does almost 70mpg; the sort of car with which Renault should really have the seven-seater fleet car market all sewn up, surely?
What’s it like?
Marginally less exceptional away from the spec sheet and out in the real world – but convincing nonetheless. On a mixed urban and motorway route, our test car bettered 50mpg, making it frugal next to its peers; well short of Renault’s government economy claims, but the car wouldn’t be alone on that front.
The Grand Scenic suffered slightly with lazy low-rpm throttle response, but teamed with entirely adequate performance and such commendable economy, that’s a flaw that’s easy to forgive. Engine refinement is good, the car’s ride quiet, settled and absorptive. Driving with enough discipline to always be in the right gear is the only chore.
This Renault doesn’t hold much allure for the driver; it’s got light, spongy steering that’s a little too keen to return to the dead-ahead, and stable but only moderately responsive handling. But its value proposition is strong: the car comes with sat nav, Bluetooth, cruise control and rear parking sensors as standard. Renault’s 2012 model year refresh has smartened up the cabin quite successfully, too.
If you want a seven-seater for full-sized adults, you’ll need to set you sights on a larger MPV altogether; no member of the Grand Scenic’s class offers enough space to comfortably meet that brief. The Renault’s rear seats aren’t quite wide enough for larger occupants, headroom in the 2nd row is slightly restricted for taller passengers in the outer two seats, and the third row is strictly for children only. But the seats slide, tumble and stow easily, boot space is good, and cabin storage is generous enough.