SUVs are big business, leaving the traditional MPV to fall by the wayside. AOL cars gets behind the wheel of Renault's latest Grand Scenic to see if the old girl can still take the fight to trendy crossover rivals.
What is it?
The Grand Scenic is Renault's offering for the family market, with extra room and two additional seats over the regular Scenic providing more space and practicality. However, the French firm has attempted to increase the MPV's appeal in the face of overwhelming crossover popular by adding features such as massaging seats, a Bose speaker system and a leather interior.
The base Scenic has proved immensely popular, with more than 6.5 million vehicles sold since its release in 1996.
Renault has given the Grand Scenic a thorough going-over to instil it with a more premium feel than the car it replaces. This is most apparent in the interior – though we'll come to that later.
The exterior has been beefed-up with more curves and angles, while large alloy wheels add to its presence on the road.
What's under the bonnet?
There's a wide variety of powertrain options to pick from with the Renault Grand Scenic. A 1.2-litre petrol kicks the range off, rising to a 1.6 litre diesel for those who prefer oil-burners.
Our top-spec test car, however, featured that higher-output diesel. Here, it puts out 158bhp and 380Nm of torque giving the Grand Scenic a 0-60mph time of 10.5 seconds and a top speed of 124mph – certainly brisk enough performance for everyday driving.
What's it like to drive?
Despite its considerable proportions, the Grand Scenic takes little effort to drive – even around tighter country roads. It doesn't feel too big in an urban environment either, thanks to light steering and a relatively responsive engine. You can also change between a number of driving modes, going from Neutral to Perso – a setting that allows you to set the car exactly as you'd like it. However, it's best left to its own devices, with only Sport mode appearing to make any real difference, sharpening the throttle and adding weight to the steering.
How does it look?
Renault has done a good job of giving the Grand Scenic fresh enough styling that it can easily be distinguished from the older generations. The 2018's chunky appearance will no doubt appeal more to those who want a car with slightly more interesting looks, compared to the rounded styling of the older models.
The sweeping roof help to give the Grand Scenic a sleeker profile too, though the rear of the car is a little too squared-off for our liking.
What's it like inside?
The comfortable, spacious interior of the Grand Scenic is easily one of the car's biggest plus points. Thanks to its seven full-leather seats, leather steering wheel and large infotainment screen, it feels like a premium place to be. In addition, a variety of well-sized and well-placed cubbies mean that there are plenty of storage options – so the cabin should remain clutter-free.
We did, however, find issue with previously mentioned infotainment system. A variety of different menus make it a little tricky to navigate, while the inbuilt satellite navigation can be confused by taller buildings blocking its signal. Thankfully, the system is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, allowing you to integrate your smartphone's mapping system onto the car's screen.
What's the spec like?
With prices starting at £23,805, the Grand Scenic makes for a relatively wallet-friendly family car option. Entry level models benefit from a seven-inch colour touchscreen display, climate control, automatic headlights and 20-inch alloy wheels to name just a few features. That said, opt for the top-spec Signature Nav specification which is accompanied by full LED headlights, Nappa leather steering wheel and electric memory seats and you'll be needing £28,805 – a lot of money for a car in this segment.
The Renault Grand Scenic is a well-styled and well-specified alternative to the crossovers currently conquering the market. However, top-spec models with their high list price make less sense, despite their higher kit levels.
The 1.6-litre diesel also fails to deliver competitive economy figures, which will likely hit those families looking to keep fuel costs down. However, the car's high practicality levels and relatively decent drive do offset these somewhat.
Facts at a glance
Model as tested: Renault Grand Scenic Signature Nav
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel
Max speed: 124mph
0-60mph: 10.7 seconds
MPG: 60.1 mpg
Emissions: 122g/km CO2