Renault Grand Scenic 2009 Road Test

Thu, 16 Apr 2009

Just as Renault was first in Europe with a full size MPV (the innovative Espace), it was also first in Europe with a mid size MPV. Now we are into the third generation of Renault Scenic.

So is it just change for the sake of change, or have they managed to make it significantly better?

For marketing reasons, the UK gets the 7-seater Grand Scenic first, in May, and the shorter 5-seater Scenic will follow in July.

The new Renault Grand Scenic is remarkable value for money, with prices starting at £1,060 less than before, for more car. £14,995 for the base model 1.6 Extreme undercuts the worthy, but van-derived VW Caddy Maxi Life by £1,000.

Obviously, as features increase and better engines find their way under the bonnets, Grand Scenics start to get dearer. Diesels start at £16,495, for the lowest emission 7-seater you can buy (138g/km). While the best engine (in my opinion, anyway) is the chain-cam, water-cooled turbo petrol 1.4TCE 130, from £17,595.

But first, a general description.

The centre three seats slide, tumble and completely remove individually. The rearmost pair of seats individually pull out of the load deck very easily indeed and are decently comfortable for a 5’ 9” adult (me) to sit in, at an 89 degree angle, with plenty of room for my hat.

All Grand Scenics offer front and rear floor storage boxes, storage trays under the front seats, height-adjustable drivers seat, multi adjustable steering wheel and a digital dash (of which more later). They’re all loaded with safety kit, including ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, ESP, front and rear curtain airbags, front airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounting, etc. All come with standard aircon.

Start spending a bit more and you get more spec. You can actually see most of it in the video, but I’d still like to mention the stunning TFT screen dashboard display, from Expression spec up, and the fantastic value-for-money Carminat Tom Tom Satnav that warns of speed limits, and speed cameras, is easily updatable by SD card, yet costs just £450 as an optional extra.

The specs and dimensions are covered below so you can check exactly what you get for your money there.

We drove two specs and engines. A Privilege with the 2.0 litre 160PS Renault/Nissan Alliance diesel (list price £22,695). And a Dynamique with the TCe 130 1.4 litre petrol engine (list price £18,595).

Both cars rode well on their new Megane suspension, though the diesel disappointed me. It was a good cruiser, sensibly geared, but the weight of the engine made it less responsive, breaking into understeer in typical MPV fashion. And though it developed a strong 380Nm torque, there wasn’t much of that low down. Let the revs die below 1,500 and you’re in trouble, faced with either a lack of response or a near stall.

The 1.4TCe, on the other hand, is astonishingly good. Quiet, refined, and much more flexible at low revs, even pulling cleanly from 1,000rpm after rounding a roundabout in 5th.

It figures quite well, too, at the same 173g/km as the 2.0 litre diesel (you need the 1.9 130 or 1.5 106 diesels to get under 160g/km), but 38.7mpg combined v/s 50.4 combined for the 2.0 diesel. Factor in the 10% higher price of diesel fuel and the difference shrinks a bit, while the 1.4TCe is nicer to drive and cheaper to buy.

So that’s what I’d go for, 1.4 TCe Expression or Dynamique spec at £17,595 or £18,595, not forgetting to find an extra £450 for the stunningly good Carminat Tom Tom satnav.

For prices, availability, specifications, powertrain details, dimensions, and performance figures please click the tabs.

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