Fast fun for the family

Yes, it’s a turbocharged petrol engine in Renault’s oh-so sensible Grand Scénic, that paragon of family values. You know you’ve grown up when you buy a Scénic – so is this Renault’s attempt to give its midi-MPV some youthful driver appeal?

Renault calls the 2.0-litre turbo-charged 16-valver (the same 2.0-litre unit found in the rest of the Mégane range but with a blower added) a ‘high-performance’ engine and claims 0-60mph in 9.6sec – quick for a vehicle of the Grand Scénic’s size and weight. 

In a straight-line dash, however, it doesn’t feel that quick – this is not a spool-up-the-turbo-and-wait-for-the-punch kind of engine – and it’s really the mid-range kick that shows off the engine’s increased power and torque. The 2.0-litre pulls strongly from idle, with the 199lb ft peak torque at 3250rpm, but if you use the new-found performance expect 30mpg or less.

Where the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine gets a little noisy and harsh at high revs, this one stays pleasantly quiet and refined from idle to a 90mph cruise. In fact, the whole car is very civilised, with little wind or road noise, even on notoriously noisy concrete motorways.

Road manners are less civilised – the 2.0T’s steering is numb and overly light, and doesn’t provide a consistent level of feel. The brake pedal has a disconcerting inch of travel before it has any effect on the brakes, and the ride is noisy and harsh at low speeds over rutted urban roads. Despite the turbo, this is still very much an MPV, not a driver’s car.

Inside it’s a world of storage and space, high-quality plastics and excellent fit and finish. It’s a shame about the fiddly, cheap-feeling stereo and slow-witted navigation system, which are hard to use and spoil the effect of quality.

Would we take the 2.0T over the excellent 1.9 dCi diesel, which has significantly better economy, is £797 cheaper and spits out less CO2? Probably not, but if your alternative is the £18,410 naturally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol, try and stretch to the 2.0T. It’s no Vauxhall Zafira GSi, but you’ll appreciate the extra performance and refinement from the engine.

Dan Stevens

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