2013 Renault Grand Scenic review
* Face-lifted seven-seat MPV driven * Three petrol and two diesel engines * On sale now, priced from 20,355...
When the Renault Scenic first appeared in the UK, it was something of a trailblazer in the MPV market, with lots of practical family features in the footprint of a compact car.
However, rivals from a host of other manufacturers have since come to market, so Renault now has a much tougher fight on its hands.
The latest Scenic models went on sale four years ago, so the company has given the five- and seven-seat versions a face-lift to refresh the range.
The Grand Scenic has a new front end design with the gloss black grille and large Renault logo that feature on the new Captur and Clio, as well as new engine and equipment options.
There's only one trim available on the new Grand Scenic, and buyers can choose from five engines, including the latest 128bhp 1.2 TCe petrol with stop-start technology.
Other petrol units include a 109bhp 1.6-litre and a 113bhp 1.2 turbo. The diesel options are a 109bhp 1.5-litre, with either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual, or a 128bhp 1.6-litre with the manual 'box only.
What's the 2013 Renault Grand Scenic like inside?
Dynamique TomTom is the only trim available, which includes dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, rear parking sensors, sat-nav, Bluetooth and a four-speaker stereo with USB input.
An electrically adjustable driver's seat with memory function is a no-cost option (we can't see many buyers not taking Renault up on this offer), and with reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel too, it's easy to get comfortable.
However, the controls for the radio and Bluetooth system are complicated and poorly labelled. The sat-nav is relatively easy to use, though, thanks to a conveniently located joystick and buttons between the front seats.
The Grand Scenic doesn't have particularly clever seating, either access to the third row isn't great, and the seats don't all fold flat into the floor like they do in some rival seven-seaters. The two rearmost seats do collapse into the boot, but those in the second row only fold and tumble forwards.
The claimed maximum loading capacity of 2063 litres sounds impressive, but this is only achieved when the three middle seats are removed from the car, which is rather inconvenient.
With all seven seats upright, boot space is just more than 200 litres, which expands to 564 litres with the third row folded away.
Our test car came with the optional Bose+ pack (1000), which includes a nine-speaker sound system and amplifier, 17-inch alloys, electric-folding door mirrors and a sliding central armrest.
Other options on the Grand Scenic include heated seats (300), an electric panoramic sunroof (900), and leather and Alcantara upholstery (1500).
What's the 2013 Renault Grand Scenic like to drive?
We tried the 128bhp diesel, which has stop-start technology to help boost average economy to 64.2mpg, while pegging CO2 emissions at 114g/km.
Along with the new 1.2 turbo petrol, this is the most powerful engine in the new Grand Scenic range and it pulls strongly and smoothly once you get the revs above 2000rpm. It's slightly grumbly at low speeds around town, but quietens down on A-roads and motorways.
However, while the engine is generally refined, there's a lot of wind- and road noise at 70mph.
The suspension deals well with larger bumps and ruts fairly well, but there's a fair amount of patter and reverb through the cabin as the car tries to settle itself over patched-up surfaces.
The pay-off for the slightly unsettled ride is that body control is impressive by MPV standards.
There's also plenty of grip, although the steering is vague and doesn't always weight up consistently through corners.
Around town, the Grand Scenic feels light and is easy to manoeuvre, but the rising waistline along the side of the car means visibility isn't great when parking.
Should I buy one?
The Grand Scenic costs 1200 more than the equivalent five-seat Scenic, so it's by no means poor value, and if you choose the lower-powered 1.5 diesel engine, claimed fuel economy is very impressive.
However, the competition is even easier to recommend. True, the diesel engines in the Ford S-Max aren't as frugal as those in Renault, but it's far better to drive, while the Peugeot 5008 offers more flexible and user-friendly seating.
So, if you're after low running costs, then the most efficient Grand Scenic is worth considering, but in most other areas it is still outclassed by rivals.
What Car? says...
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from 23,395
Torque 236lb ft
0-62mph 11.1 seconds
Top speed 121mph
Fuel economy 64.2mpg