Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique S Nav dCi 13006 | 12 | 2016Scotcars rating

    Renault breathes new life into the people carrier sector with concept-styled Scenic

    FOR SOME CAR buyers, this may seem strange, but there was a time when crossovers and soft-roaders like the Nissan Qashqai didn’t exist; instead, the family market was dominated by people carriers.

    It was sector created, and then dominated, by Renault, first with its groundbreaking Espace, and then the smaller Scenic, which in turn was then joined by its bigger brother, the seven-seater Grand Scenic.

    Those halcyon days of sales success though evaporated for Renault as the flood of crossovers, and buyers’ desire to drive something which enhanced their perceived ‘action-led lifestyle’, stalled the people carrier crusade.

    Now, Renault has signalled its intention to, if not re-establish the people carrier market, certainly maximise its share of buyers who do still prefer the genre, by launching a new five-seat Scenic and the seven-seat Grand Scenic.

    Mad, you may think. But before you jump to your immediate conclusion, consider this.

    Since Renault invented the compact MPV — Multiple-Purpose Vehicle — segment in 1996, Renault has sold, globally, 6.5m Scenic models. The original Scenic slotted into the Renault range below the full-size Espace MPV.


    Now, this fourth-generation Scenic bids to capture the families who desire a practical and desirable MPV, and who don’t want to spend their lives pretending they’re “go anywhere action men …. or women”.

    Externally, it’s a bit of a head turner; resembling something which other manufacturers might content themselves with sketching as a ‘concept’. But Renault has brought its concept looks to life with the new Scenic’s radical, futuristic-looking shapely body riding on massive 20-inch alloys.

    Under the skin, it's based on the same platform as the Renault Megane, which is also used on the Renault Kadjar and now mainland Europe-only Espace. Not surprisingly, it’s also the base for Nissan's Qashqai, X-Trail and Pulsar models.

    Renault has replicated the specification family from the Megane, which means the Scenic is available as Expression+, Dynamique, Dynamique S and Signature.

    Across the range, all models get alloy wheels, climate control, keyless entry and Bluetooth, while Dynamique Nav adds sat-nav, parking sensors and sunblinds in the rear. And while the Dynamique S Nav adds the larger 8.7-inch infotainment set-up, a head-up display and 11-speaker Bose stereo, step up to the range-topping Signature Nav and you get all this, plus leather and LED headlamps.


    Buyers have the choice from five engines. There's a 1.2TCe turbo petrol in 115 guise in the Expression+, while the rest of the range has a 130 version of the same engine. For diesels, there's the trusty 1.5 dCi 110, while the larger 1.6 dCi comes in 130 form, or 160 guise in the top-spec Signature model only.

    There’s no denying diesel fits the Scenic best. So it’s no surprise that we drove what’s expected to be one of the bestsellers, the 130bhp 1.6 dCi slotted into the Grand Scenic.

    Capable of returning 61mpg, according to the official figures, and emitting 119g/km CO2, it’s nimble enough to deal with real world driving, with a 0-62mph benchmark of 11.4secs and a top speed of 118mph.

    More importantly, it’s a smooth and refined engine and, mated to the neat shift action of the six-speed manual gearbox, makes for relaxed cruising and leisurely movement around town.

    Renault has concentrated on lowering the centre of gravity, of both the 2017 Scenic and Grand Scenic, and that means there’s surprisingly little body roll. The electrically-assisted steering is direct and well weighted, which means you can place the Scenic accurately into corners.


    Perhaps worth mentioning here that the vast 20-inch alloys are wrapped in relatively narrow 195-section tyres, specially created by Michelin which, though narrower than the current ‘normal’ tyres, have relatively high sidewalls to ensure the ride is pliant and comfortable.

    Sitting 40mm higher off the ground than its predecessor, it’s also 20mm wider and has a 32mm longer wheelbase, yet the rear overhang is 16mm shorter, all of which combine to give the Scenic a powerful, squat stance. The Grand Scenic adds an additional 228mm of bodywork.

    That means the Scenic delivers plenty of head and legroom for passengers despite top models coming fitted with a panoramic glass sunroof. And there’s also comfortable head and knee room for rear seat passengers.

    The folding mechanism for the three rear seats is a doddle to use, and as an option the Scenic’s rearmost chairs can be folded electrically either with buttons in the boot or via a menu on the central touchscreen. It’s brilliantly simple, efficient, and clever.


    Bootspace in the Scenic sets new class-leading figures, with a capacity of 572-litres; but that figure is without the removable boot floor and tyre inflation kit. Fold the rear bench seat down and stowage increases to 1554-litres.

    Upfront, visibility is excellent thanks to the large expanse of glass and tall windscreen, all of which helps create the feeling of a light and airy space. There’s a helpful medium-sized glovebox which, further boosted by deep door pockets all round, help with storage. But we did find the sliding central tunnel between the driver and passenger a bit of a gimmick; almost as if it’s just been placed there to fill a space.

    The Grand Scenic comes with a choice of four trim levels, and even basic Espression+ models come with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, cruise control and automatic emergency braking which can detect people as well as cars – the only system capable of this in the class.

    Step up to the Grand Scenic Dynamique Nav, and you get all-round parking sensors. The exterior looks even better too thanks to a smattering of chrome which sets off the huge alloys nicely.

    Inside the cabin, you get cool ambient lighting, rear picnic tables, a 3D-sound stereo, keyless entry, and that sliding centre console. It also benefits from the clever, remotely-operated folding rear seats and, not surprisingly, sat-nav as standard.


    The pick of the range is the Dynamique Nav S which adds a panoramic sunroof, colour head-up display and the lovely 8.7-inch touchscreen.

    The range-topping Signature Nav takes the Grand Scenic to the edge of luxury, with black leather, a Nappa leather steering wheel and front seats that are electrically adjustable. There’s also fog lights that follow the direction of the steering wheel and powerful full-LED headlights.

    There’s no denying Renault has taken a significant leap of faith in creating the new Scenic and Grand Scenic, as it bids to reclaim a sector of the industry it previously dominated.

    Has it got it right? I think so. The ingredients are all there to be a success: they both look radical, thanks to the combination of sharp styling and massive alloys, they have an easy-to-use portrait infotainment screen and enjoy a clever interior.

    There’s no reason why, with the Scenic and the Grand Scenic, Renault can’t wrestle sensible family drivers away from the lure of the ever-expanding array of crossovers, and instead enjoy the spacious delights of a good old people carrier … one which has been brought right up to date for the modern family.

    Related: New range-topping Renault Clio

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £28,445 / £31,080
    Engine / Power: 1598cc 4-cyl diesel, with 6spd manual / 130bhp
    How fast?: 11.4sec / Max 118mph
    How big/heavy?: L4634mm W1866mm (excl mirrors) H1655mm / 1601kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 61.4mpg combined / 119g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: Gp 16 / Band C
    Alternatives: Citroen C4 Picasso, Ford S-Max, BMW 2-series Active Tourer, VW Touran

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