What is it?
It's the recently launched seven-seat Grand Scenic, equipped with a 130bhp 1.9 dCi engine. We're testing the car in Dynamique trim, which means air-con, alloys, cruise control, Bluetooth, keyless entry, auto headlights and wipers and a digital dashboard are all standard fit. It scores five Euro NCAP crash test stars and ESP is standard fit across the range.
Our test car was also fitted with a panoramic sunroof, climate control, parking sensors, adaptable head restraints and built-in TomTom satellite navigation. Road tax is £50 cheaper than the 160bhp dCi version, at £125, while there is the potential for 50.4mpg.
What’s it like?
In comparison with the 160 dCi version, which is shod with lower-profile tyres and weighs 100kg more, this trim and engine combination makes for a more comfortable ride.
In sixth gear the engine spins at 2250prm at 70mph, with sufficient torque left for hills and overtaking. Road and wind noise are well blocked out, but unfortunately this magnifies the less well insulated engine, which can feel and sound gruff around town.
Unless you compromise the comfort for middle row passengers, the two rearmost seats are useful for children only. With all seven seats in place luggage space is limited, although access is eased by the absence of a boot lip.
Drop the rear two seats into the floor, though – by pulling a strap and pushing the seat backs down to lock them in place – and the boot becomes usefully spacious.
Interior lighting, storage cubbies and bag hooks are plentiful, but if you want to carry the handbook and Renault Accident Management pack around in the glovebox, you’ll have to find another place for oddments.
While the driving position is an improvement over the old model, high-set pedals and a long-throw gearshift still make it difficult to for taller drivers to get comfortable. Although the seats lack lateral support, optional adaptable headrests – which have wings that partly wrap around occupants heads for improved comfort – are a useful innovation.
Should I buy one?
It’s cheaper, quieter and has a more cosseting ride than an S-Max. But its smaller dimensions mean the rearmost seats are short on legroom, while the driving position is poor by comparison. Unless you’re carrying heavy loads regularly, the newly developed 106bhp 1.5dCi could be the engine of choice within the Scenic range, as it returns 55.4mpg and costs £1100 less.