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£28,390 when new
Haven’t you reviewed the Renault Scenic before? Yes, indeed we have. But this is the Grand Scenic, which is a smidge longer and thus seats seven rather than five, thanks to an extra pair of flip-up seats hidden away underneath the boot floor. The new Scenic is a striking-looking thing in any spec, but we reckon the longer wheelbase and the bigger, more upright rear-end of the Grand make for a more cohesive-looking car. In profile the regular Scenic looks a bit stubby, such is the rake of the windscreen and lack of rear-overhang, but the Grand just looks like a mini-Espace. Which, seeing as we don’t get those in the UK, is fine by us. The one we have here is a Dynamique S Nav – so it has many bells and some whistles. Price as tested is £31,080. This is an MPV. Tell us about the inside. Righto. The Grand Scenic is 228mm longer than the regular Scenic. That extra length and those two extra seats cost you an extra £1,800 or so. Let’s work our way forwards. The two rearmost seats are easily erected, stowed and accessed. You can get an adult back there, but to give them enough knee-room you have to slide the middle-row of seats right the way forwards. So far forwards, an adult would struggle for space, which rather defeats the point of trying to squeeze one into the third-row in the first place… Small people only back there, then. Slide the middle seats back, and the second row is spacious enough. Anyone possessed of knees won’t be able to use the tray tables, but five-year old love ‘em, and there’s a pair of USB ports, so the iPads they’re slamming against the back of your headrest won’t run out of juice. The dads of the TG office tell me fitting ISOFIX child seats in here is a nightmare, though, if you’re that way inclined. Up front, you’ve two comfy seats with bewinged headrests and a centre console that slides aft to reveal a couple of cupholders. Renault’s portrait touchscreen is as good here as it is in the Megane. On a scale of ‘not at all’ to ‘excellent’, we’d rank it ‘quite’. Bet it’s all wallowy and French to drive. We should be so lucky. The most annoying thing about the Grand Scenic is its ride, which isn’t as plush as rivals’. It never seems to settle down, always finding a rut or joint to rattle through the cabin and its occupants. Not uncomfortable, just a bit annoying. How much of this is to do with the standard-fit 20-inch alloys is unclear and moot, because you can’t option anything smaller. The driving position isn’t great either, though the seats are comfy, and the rake of the windscreen and shape of the front-end make it difficult to judge exactly where nose is. The drive itself is fine, if uninvolving. Ours has the 1.6-litre diesel, with 130bhp and 236lb ft. It’s slow – obviously. A really short first gear encourages an early change to second, and thus makes it feel a bit weak off the line. Drive through the problem and you’ll find an acceptably refined, torquey engine. The six-speed manual is baggy and not especially gratifying. Claimed mpg is 61.4 – you’ll see 40s normally, or 50s on a run. More- and less-powerful diesels and petrols are available, as is an automatic gearbox on some, but we reckon this 1.6 strikes a good balance for what you actually need. Anything else? There’s a bit of wind noise at speed, especially from around the door mirrors and window seals on the front-doors – right next to your ear – and most of the interior switchgear lacks the satisfyingly well-damped action you’d see in a VW Touran. But it is spacey – and there’s loads of cubbies. The glovebox however, typically for Renault, is big enough only to accommodate its own lid and the car’s manual. In all, though, the Scenic is a decent thing. We applaud Renault for not going down the ‘practicality rules’ route most others do, and injecting a bit of flair into what would otherwise be, going on driving alone, an ordinary MPV. The swing to SUVs is real, but the tactility of the Renault might tempt those who wouldn’t consider a Touran, but a VW Tiguan.