Renault Grand Scenic 1.6 dCi 130

* New range-topping diesel for Grand Scenic * Available in three trim levels, from 20,700 * 64.2mpg, 115g/km CO2 emissions...

Renault Grand Scenic 1.6 dCi 130

What is it? A new flagship diesel engine, in both the Scenic and Grand Scenic ranges, and which replaces the old 1.9-litre. Both units produce the same power (128bhp), but the newer engine has more torque, lower emissions and much better fuel economy, as well as a stop-start system.

In both the five-seat Scenic and the seven-seat Grand Scenic we drive here, it produces just 115g/km of CO2 and averages 64.2mpg. That results in a 13% company car tax liability and Band C road tax rating and makes this one of the most efficient MPVs on the market.

What's it like to drive? With its peak torque of 236lb ft coming at just 1750rpm, the 1.6-litre engine makes for relaxing progress. Not only does it give strong acceleration when you use its full rev range, just as importantly it also gives good flexibility.

The only caveat is that you need to keep the engine spinning at more than 1500rpm. Below that, it can feel frustratingly flat, but once the engine is up and running (which, to be fair, is most of the time) there's a smooth flow of power all the way to the redline.

It's a refined engine, too, and whether you're in town or on the motorway, that strong pull is a godsend. It allows you to simply ease on and off the throttle to keep up with traffic rather than having to change gear all the time.

On the road, this new model is much the same as the rest of the Grand Scenic range. It's effectively a halfway house between the comfortable Citroen Grand C4 Picasso and the more driver-focused Ford S-Max.

If anything, it's closer to the Ford, but this new dCi-engined model follows other diesel-engined Grand Scenics in having a ride that some may well find too firm at times.

What's it like inside? This Grand Scenic is no different from any other. That means the driver can enjoy an easy-to-use computer-style dashboard and a good view out; the driving position will suit most people; and, you can just about squeeze five adults in the rear.

The key is excellent headroom all round, as well as excellent legroom and sliding individual seats in row two. However, unlike the row-three seats, which fold into the floor, the second-row seats can either be tumbled forward or lifted out, which can be a right pain.

Should I buy one? There's no doubt that its blend of performance and economy makes this a fine version of the Grand Scenic. Trouble is, it's also the most expensive so, for us, the dCi 110 model makes the most financial sense. It's not as quick or as economical, but it's not that far behind in either respect, and costs considerably less to buy.

Ford Grand C-Max
Peugeot 5008

What Car? says
A very good version of the Grand Scenic, but not the most cost-effective.