First drive: Renault Scenic

* Plush interior * Loads of space * Cheaper than old Scenic...

First drive: Renault Scenic

Renault Scenic
Price from: £13,595-£22,295
On sale: Now
You'll like: Space; interior quality; pricing
You won't: Some rivals are more versatile

The view's always best from the top of the mountain, but Renault's Scenic has been some way below the summit of the MPV class for a while now. Does this latest version reach new heights?

Well, it has already impressed us in seven-seat Grand form and Renault has just added this regular five-seat Scenic, which is expected to be the bigger seller.

In the cabin

Its body is just 216mm (8.5in) shorter than the Grand's, so there's loads of space inside. What's more, the cabin is packed with cubbyholes and the 437-litre boot is big enough for the entire family's luggage.

As in the old car, the three individual second-row seats slide back and forth on runners so you can trade some legroom for an even bigger boot. However, the Scenic isn't as user-friendly as some rivals, because the rear seats still tumble forward and then lift out, instead of folding flat into the floor.

The Scenic counters with a plusher interior. Its dashboard is covered in appealing soft-touch plastics and most models get a screen with Playstation-style graphics instead of conventional instruments.

On the road

Buyers will also be able to choose from eight engines at launch (three petrol and five diesel) although the 108bhp 1.5-litre diesel that we drove won't go on sale in the UK until early next year. A replacement for the current 105bhp engine, it meets the latest EU emissions standards and is both smooth and flexible.

On the road, the Scenic's character falls somewhere between the driver-focused Ford C-Max and Citron's more comfort-orientated C4 Picasso. The steering has a rather artificial feel, but body roll is well controlled for such a tall car and there's plenty of grip. The ride is reasonably supple, too.

Buying and owning

Even entry-level Extreme versions come with air-conditioning, six airbags and stability control. That said, we'd probably try to find the 1600 needed to upgrade to Expression trim because this brings extras such as the fancy screen, rear electric windows and a folding front passenger's seat.

Next up is Dynamique trim, which adds alloy wheels, Bluetooth and cruise control. Range-topping Privilege cars feature dual-zone climate control, part-leather upholstery and rear parking sensors.

Perhaps the best thing about the new Scenic, though, is the pricing. It not only costs 1400 less than equivalent Grand Scenics, but it's also up to 2000 less than equivalent versions of the outgoing five-seat model. Now that is nice to see.

Our verdict

Not the most versatile, but spacious and classy