Our newest recruit: a Renault Grand Scenic joins the fleet

Published: 19 April 2017

► Renault Grand Scenic long-term test
► We live with the new zeitgeisty MPV
► Follow our daily driver blog here 

This is the fourth Renault I’ve run as a long-term test car over the last decade or so, and it couldn’t be more different from those that went before it. The first was the brilliant Clio Trophy in 2005, followed by the effervescent Renaultsport Twingo in early 2009, with the idiosyncratic Laguna Coupe arriving a year later. And now a Grand Scenic sits on my driveway.

The pioneering Espace may have blazed the MPV trail, but it was Renault’s smaller and more affordable Scenic that truly ignited the family MPV market when it made its debut 20 years ago. Yup, the Scenic arrived in 1996 – that made me feel a bit old, too.

Drawing heavily on Anne Asensio’s sci-fi concept from the 1991 Frankfurt motor show, the Megane Scenic multi-purpose vehicle became the car we all suddenly needed.

When the second-generation Scenic bowed in six years later it introduced us to the larger seven-seat Grand Scenic. With its longer wheelbase and two extra child-sized foldaway rear seats, it allowed Renault to thumb its nose at the seven-seat Zafira and plug the gap between the smaller Scenic and top-dog Espace.

Has the new Renault Scenic reinvented the MPV?

Today’s Grand Scenic looks to have taken a huge leap forward in terms of design and desirability. I love the way this car looks. Its creased and curved sheet metal, glossy-black glassed roof, technically intriguing lights and huge 20-inch alloys all cohesively work together to create concept car looks on the high street.

Renault’s design boss Laurens van den Acker and his team have done an outstanding job of adding a healthy dash of sleek SUV coolness to the prosaic job of lugging about families. 

At 4634mm long, 1866mm wide and 1655mm high, the Grand Scenic lives up to its name, but the fast roofline, high shoulders and heavily sculpted flanks do a great job of camouflaging the Renault’s bulk, making it look taut and sleekly desirable.

Renault Grand Scenic cabin

There are 18 models in the Grand Scenic’s UK line-up, and we’ve shied away from the top-spec Signature variants and opted for a mid-range Dynamic S Nav. We said non to the sluggish 110bhp and the auto-only 160bhp dCi diesel engines and chose the mid-range 1.6-litre 128bhp dCi, hooked up to a manual six-speed gearbox – we’re promised 61.4mpg, 119g/km CO2, 118mph and a leisurely 11.4-second stroll to 62mph. 

All in, that’s £28,445. If that strikes you as a bit punchy, then cast your eye down the list of standard equipment: those massive intricate alloy wheels, full sunroof, dual-zone climate control, head-up display, numerous alphabets of acronymed safety features that will do their best to cocoon you from the scenery, electric everything, programmable driving modes and a sophisticated infotainment system are all standard features. Bon.

To this we’ve added £545 worth of Sky Blue metallic paint; full LED headlamps at £500, the £500 Premium Parking Pack that adds hands-free parking, 360-degree parking sensors and blind-spot sensors; the £500 Premium Safety Pack with adaptive cruise control, Safe Distance Warning and Active Emergency Braking System; and the £500 Bose upgrade that includes seven speakers, a subwoofer and a digital amp. Last on the options list was a £90 emergency spare wheel, for a total of £31,080.

I feel well placed to critique the Grand Scenic. Our family car is a Seat Alhambra, which within my modest motoring budget I truly believe to be The Best Family Car In The Word. It’s boxy and big, sure, but it has seven full seats, a huge boot, cavernous interior, an acceptably decent performance-parsimony ratio, plenty of safety and entertainment trinkets, and – here’s the knockout feature – sliding rear doors. You’ll know the advantage if you’ve ever tried to shoehorn a large family car into a minuscule parking space and then extract children from the rear seats without bruised offspring or scuffed doors. The Alhambra’s flush sliding doors make entry and egress in even the tightest of spaces a doddle. Conventionally hinged doors? Who needs ’em?

As any parent knows, when your daily drive has to deal with children, dogs, bicycles, the school run, DIY projects, trips to the tip and the odd camping holiday, its strengths and weaknesses shine through very quickly. The Alhambra undertakes every task with unruffled aplomb. 

So can this slinky French interloper with its chic metalwork, supercar-size wheels and funky cabin layout handle the melee of family life? The next six months will be telling.

More Renault reviews by CAR magazine

We opted for the £500 Full LED Headlamps on our Renault Grand Scenic

How we specced our Renault Grand Scenic

£500 Full LED Headlamps (above)
High-tech LED lights on a mid-range family lugger? For £500? Excellent value from Renault.

£500 Bose Pack
Pumping seven-speaker Bose audio system complete with digital amp and subwoofer. Shakes our windows.

£500 Parking Pack Premium
Combines kerb-friendly hands-free parking, 360-degree parking sensors and blind spot warning.

£500 Safety Pack Premium
Bundles together Active Emergency Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control and Safe Distance Warning

Logbook: Renault Grand Scenic, Dynamique S Nav dCi 130

Engine: 1600cc 16v, turbodiesel 4-cyl, 128bhp @ 4000rpm, 236lb ft @ 1750rpm  
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front wheel drive  
Stats: 11.4sec 0-62mph, 118mph 119g/km CO2  
Price: £28,445
As tested: £31,080  
Miles this month: 927  
Total miles: 927  
Our mpg: 45.76  
Official mpg: 61.4  
Fuel cost overall: £124.43  
Extra costs: £0

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

  • Ben Whitworth and our Renault Grand Scenic
  • Inside our Renault Grand Scenic cabin
  • Renault Grand Scenic Full LED Headlamps for £500