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The Top Gear car review: Renault Scenic/Grand Scenic

£19,015£22,940
6/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Airy, comfortable to drive and a capacious boot

Against: 

Few cars say 'game over for me' like a French MPV
Lots to like and tidy looks, but an S-Max is more fun and a C4 Picasso more versatile.

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Our choice

Renault

1.5 dCi 110 Dynamique TomTom 5dr

£20,845
N/A
58mpg
13.30s
110bhp
128g/km

What we say: 

It was refreshed last year but others have now caught up, and passed. The original compact MPV

What is it?

The world’s first compact people carrier has fallen down the pecking order in recent years. Rivals have copied Renault’s Scenic and added their own clever touches. What’s Renault done? Well, there was a facelift last year, but it wasn’t enough: the standard Scenic has thus been joined by a crossover-style variant, called XMOD – costing no more than the regular five-seat Scenic that remains on sale. The longer Grand Scenic seven-seaters are also still available.

Driving

You don’t buy a people carrier for high-octane thrills, but to deliver a peaceful ride for the family no matter what the situation or load. The Scenic generally delivers this. It’s a bit pattery when unladen but settles with the family on board. It’s safe, stable, comfortable and simple to steer. The XMOD has extra traction thanks to a new Grip Xtend system plus mud and snow tyres.

Updated engines for revised models mark a big improvement. The best-selling diesels have been transformed, with the 1.5-litre dCi getting an upgrade and the new 1.6-litre dCi taking centre stage overall. Default to either, but don’t dismiss the sprightly little 1.2-litre TCe turbo either: it’s way better than you’d expect. Do, however, dismiss the droning old 1.6-litre petrol – and don’t expect a particularly satisfying gearshift from any of them. At least the 1.5 dCi now offers a twin-clutch transmission as an option.

On the inside

Practicality is all here and the Scenic remains an exemplar, in both five-seat regular-length and seven-seat extended-length Grand guise. It’s roomy, the sliding seats are comfortable and there are stowage boxes everywhere – even in the floor. The latest range revision sees just two trims, with Dynamique including Renault’s simple to use built-in TomTom sat nav system as standard. Very nice to have for free.

The five-seat model offers a big 437-litre boot. Just be aware that if you fill all seven seats in the Grand Scenic, you’ll more than halve the luggage allowance: ditch them and fold all the seats down to make a van-like 2,000 litres available.

Owning

Ignore the lure of the 1.6-litre petrol’s budget entry-level list price. Spend £1,100 more on the 1.2-litre TCe and you’ll get over 10mpg more, with a corresponding cut in CO2 which will save you every year when you come to tax it. Better still, choose diesel: the best is capable of 68.9mpg, even in Grand guise, which is pretty amazing for one so upright. Renault’s new four-year warranty adds reassurance too. And it makes things very simple when choosing a trim as there’s only one available. Still, Renault is generous and includes a bounty of equipment as standard with it.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.6 dCi Dynamique Nav 5dr
10.3s 114g/km 64.2 130 £22,440
The cheapest
1.6 VVT Dynamique TomTom 5dr
11.7s 174g/km 38.2 110 £19,015
The greenest
1.5 dCi Dynamique Nav 5dr
12.5s 105g/km 68.9 110 £21,340

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

8/10

Nissan Qashqai

£18,490£29,125
Bow to your socio-economic status in a very-slightly-less-obvious fashion with a Nissan Qashqai