Renault Grand Scenic 1.6 dCi Dynamique
Clean and uncluttered design remains attractive
- All-round excellence of engine performance
- Spacious and versatile cabin
- Exterior design is ageing well
- Good standard specification
- Some plastics lightweight to the touch
- Ubiquity might put some buyers off
- Deep boot lid may prove hard to open in a tight spot
- Crashier ride with heavier diesel engine
Renault's Grand Scenic is still consider by many buyers to be the first choice in the hugely popular MPV segment, bolstered by the provision of extra space delivered over the regular Scenic model. Now the both Scenic versions are the first Renaults to receive its innovative 1.6-litre diesel engine that will appear throughout the Renault range.
The previous two generations of Renault's Scenic people carrier sold a combined total of 3.2 million examples, proving that the car-buying public's appetite for compact but practical MPVs knows no bounds. Yet even MPVs are not impervious to the pressures of rising fuel prices and emission regulations, hence it is the first Renault to benefit from the new diesel powerplant.
Available in five-seat Scenic or seven-seat Grand Scenic form, the range uses a tall, spacious body and a versatile interior to offer greater flexibility for families. In the form of the Grand Scenic, that means an additional third row of seats that fold out of the boot floor and a central or second row of seats that can be slid forward or back to offer greater comfort levels for passengers or increased luggage space as required.
The benefits of this kind of practicality are clearly a factor in the car's huge success, but so are the excellent diesel engines which are the first choice for many buyers. However, the 1.9-litre diesel had reached the end of its useful life and so a brand-new 1.6-litre unit has been developed to replace it and sit alongside the existing 1.5-litre diesel.
Renault claims that the new unit has been designed with expertise garnered during the company's Formula 1 programme, and the list of new features certainly indicates a good deal of effort put into the design. High pressure injectors, a 'square' block design and a low pressure exhaust gas recirculation system all help to boost power output, increase efficiency and reduce fuel usage.
Our verdict on the Renault Grand Scenic 1.6 dCi Dynamique
The Scenic has always been an extremely practical, capable and usable machine, and the addition of this new engine simply adds more strings to its bow. The added refinement will be welcome to passengers while the extra performance makes driving more pleasurable. That it does so whilst increasing fuel economy and reducing emissions makes it an easy decision to make.
Competitively priced, the Grand Scenic is a basic value for money proposition considering the equipment specified as standard. Options packs offer further value, and the focus on fuel efficiency saves in running costs and road tax.
Space and practicality
Naturally, the Grand Scenic boasts an airy and spacious interior. A high level of practicality befits the model's nature with its ability to carry seven being the main attribute. The third row of seats can be raised and lowered individually, allowing for a versatile interior, complimented by the ability to move the middle row of three seats forward and back individually. With the rear two seats folded there's an impressively sized boot and there are more than 40 storage bins in the cabin for storing smaller items.
Controls and display
The Grand Scenic's centrally mounted TFT instrument and speedo display is clear, concise and customisable. Selecting the options and style of display required is down through a button on the upper dash assembly. Depending on the gearbox, trim level and options specified, control layouts vary, but with sat-nav controls located next to the gear lever and the rest falling to hand on the centre console, the layout is very user-friendly. The driving position and steering-wheel angle have been tweaked to offer greater usability and the gear change is precise and light. The Grand Scenic offers one of the most useable and well-planned cabins in its glass in terms of controls and displays.
Impressive equipment levels and a strong focus on interior quality mean even the base models are very comfortable to travel in. The driver's seat benefits from a greater degree of adjustability and seating all round is supportive and well contoured, including the temporary third row. A refined interior, aided by the smoothness and low noise levels from the engine increases comfort further.
Central locking with deadlocking is standard equipment along with an alarm and immobiliser, but the Privilege trim level also comes with a hands free card that automatically locks the doors when walking away from the car and requires no key for starting the engine.
With a high degree of safety built into the Grand Scenic's frame complimented by electronic aids such as ESP and EBA as standard, parents should have few worries about their children travelling in the model. Front and rear lateral and front curtain airbags are standard, while all seven seats get a proper three point seatbelt, tailored to prevent 'submarining' in a collision. Headrests have also been developed to offer greater head and neck protection.
Renault's claims about the new technology in its 1.6-litre diesel engine are certainly borne out by the driving experience. Unlike many diesels it is happy to rev past 5,000rpm, and doesn't feel breathless doing so. Torque is readily available from low engine revs and there is a smooth progression of power rather than a sudden rush at the turbocharger kicks in. The engine's flexibility makes both relaxed and keen driving more enjoyable, while the knowledge that it is still capable of high economy is reassuring.
Family car appeal
The Renault Grand Scenic is the perfect vehicle for families that require a spacious, versatile five or seven-seater, but don't want to opt for a larger full-size MPV. Squeezing min-bus practicality and spaciousness into a family hatchback-sized platform, the model offers the perfect blend for families. A child friendly interior, decent-safety precautions and scaled-down running costs make it a great addition to family life.
First car appeal
The Renault Grand Scenic is unlikely to prove popular with first time car buyers because if its role as a family vehicle. Renault boasts an impressive array of smaller hatchbacks that will be better suited to the younger driver, including the Megane with which the Grand Scenic shares a great deal.
Quality and image
The current generation of people carriers all feature more modern styling that makes them less dowdy in appearance. The Grand Scenic is no different and shares styling cues with the Renault car range that mean parents should consider driving one less of a style sacrifice. That said, the Grand Scenic is less cutting edge in design than some, although that will appeal to many. Quality has improved considerably in recent years and it shows inside, a sturdy feel to fittings and better quality material for the most part.
The Grand Scenic's tall body and generously sized doors mean the model is extremely easy to access. The third row of seats still require a degree of dexterity to reach, but will be easy for kids and nimble adults to access. Thanks the equally generous proportions of the boot door, a problem might occur trying to open it in tight spaces, but this is a small price to pay for such an easy to access vehicle.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
With the option of an integrated sat-nav system for a very small premium, the Grand Scenic offers an impressive level of electronics. An even more advanced system offers a large seven-inch screen, DVD-compatibility, a six-CD multi-changer, multimedia connectivity and Bluetooth. As a family vehicle, rear screens would compliment the higher specification media package, but excellent sound quality from even the base level equipment is a bonus.
Colours and trim
With no less than eleven metallic shades and the odd solid colour thrown into the mix, too, there's no shortage of paint choices to choose from. The model's contemporary but androgynous styling means that all of the options suit it. Interior trim has come on leaps and bounds, although there is a question mark as to how it would stand up to the kind of pounding that a busy family would deliver. Options packs allow for creative interior and exterior specifications.
A good size glasshouse means that visibility is impressive all round and, combined with the Grand Scenic's square shape, makes it an easy vehicle to park. Parking sensors are included and with the high-end multi media packages, a reversing camera displays a crystal clear image of what's behind you alongside a radar-style graphic showing nearby obstacles.
Tyre inflation kit fitted as standard with option of steel spare.
Petrol engine options - 1.4-litre (130bhp); 1.6-litre (110bhp), 2.0-litre (140bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.5-litre (110bhp); 1.6-litre (130bhp. Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, six-speed automatic gearbox, CVT gearbox with six-speed manual override. Trim levels: Expression, Dynamique.
Toyota Verso Sleek exterior and family focussed interior
Vauxhall Zafira Seven seats and strong engine line-up
Volkswagen Touran Sturdy but less exciting MPV
Citroen C4 Picasso Stylish and versatile family vehicle