Renault Scenic 1-4

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Description: Renault Grand Scenic 1.4 Privilege TCe 130 car review from the AA. Overall car review rating: 8 out 10. Value for money: 8 out 10.

    Strong emphasis on economy Excellent forward visibility Smooth and punchy 1.4-litre engine Spacious and versatile cabin
    Some plastics lightweight to the touch Less adventurous styling than some rivals Deep boot lid may prove hard to open in a tight spot Crashier ride with heavier diesel engine

One of the MPV models that began life as a variant of an established hatchback and gained well-deserved status in its own right, the Renault Grand Scenic has been renewed, making use of the new Renault Megane platform to offer an improved driving experience and new drive-train options to lessen running costs.

The previous two generations of Renault's Scenic people carrier sold a combined total of 3.2 million examples, proving that the car-buying public's appetite for compact but practical MPVs knows no bounds. The new version hopes to build on that success, using the traditional strategy of utilising the platform of an established hatchback model, in this case the Renault Megane.

Available in five-seat - Scenic - or seven-seat - Grand Scenic - form, the range uses a taller, more spacious body and a more versatile interior to offer greater flexibility for families. In the form of the Grand Scenic, that means an additional third row of seats that fold out of the boot floor and a central or second row of seats that can be slid forward or back to offer greater comfort levels for passengers or increased luggage space as required.

No less flexible is the engine range that takes in a selection of petrol and diesel units to offer maximum choice. Fuel efficiency and decreased running costs have been the focus for Renault in developing the new Grand Scenic, the culmination of which is a new 128bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit that combines sprightly performance with impressive fuel economy. Six-speed manual or automatic transmissions and a CVT transmission for the 138bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine also aid economy.

Greater emphasis has also been placed on interior quality, with the new Renault Grand Scenic not only benefitting from better quality materials across the range of four trim levels, but also from high end technology not previously seen on the model. Affordable integrated sat-nav, reversing cameras and multimedia connectivity are all available, making the Grand Scenic a more pleasant place to spend time and a more comfortable vehicle to drive whether around town or long distance.

Versatile, practical and with an impressive array of engines of which the 1.4-litre turbocharged variant is perhaps the most newsworthy, the new Renault Grand Scenic carries on where the old model left off but with greater panache. Interiors are more upmarket with impressive equipment levels available, while running costs have been lowered thanks to redeveloped transmissions and engines. Excellent driving characteristics are the icing on the cake.

Competitively priced, the Grand Scenic is a basic value for money proposition considering the equipment specified as standard. Options packs offer further value, and the focus on fuel efficiency saves in running costs and road tax. The 1.4-litre engine is a real winner in this area - an excellent advertisement for downsizing - and CVT transmissions elsewhere in the range also aid fuel consumption.

Naturally, the Grand Scenic boasts an airy and spacious interior. A high level of practicality befits the model's nature with its ability to carry seven being the main attribute. The third row of seats can be raised and lowered individually, allowing for a versatile interior, complimented by the ability to move the middle row of three seats forward and back individually. With the rear two seats folded there's an impressively sized boot and there are more than 40 storage bins in the cabin for storing smaller items.

With a high degree of safety built into the Grand Scenic's frame complimented by electronic aids such as ESP and EBA as standard, parents should have few worries about their children travelling in the model. Front and rear lateral and front curtain airbags are standard, while all seven seats get a proper three point seatbelt, tailored to prevent 'submarining' in a collision. Headrests have also been developed to offer greater head and neck protection.

The turbocharged 1.4-litre engine turns what might have been another run-of-the-mill driving experience into something far more entertaining. With power belying its small capacity, the unit offers punchy performance. Its lightweight nature also benefits both ride and handling, giving the version a sporty edge and sharper turn-in lacking from the larger engined models. As well as being relatively fun to drive, the model is also very easy to drive, with great visibility courtesy of a large glass house and a considerably larger front windscreen with less obtrusive A-pillars.

The current generation of people carriers all feature more modern styling that makes them less dowdy in appearance. The Grand Scenic is no different and shares styling cues with the Renault car range that mean parents should consider driving one less of a style sacrifice. That said, the Grand Scenic is less cutting edge in design than some, although that will appeal to many. Quality has improved considerably in recent years and it shows inside, a sturdy feel to fittings and better quality material for the most part.

The Grand Scenic's tall body and generously sized doors mean the model is extremely easy to access. The third row of seats still require a degree of dexterity to reach, but will be easy for kids and nimble adults to access. Thanks the equally generous proportions of the boot door, a problem might occur trying to open it in tight spaces, but this is a small price to pay for such an easy to access vehicle.

With the option of an integrated sat-nav system for a very small premium, the Grand Scenic offers an impressive level of electronics. An even more advanced system offers a large seven-inch screen, DVD-compatibility, a six-CD multi-changer, multimedia connectivity and Bluetooth. As a family vehicle, rear screens would compliment the higher specification media package, but excellent sound quality from even the base level equipment is a bonus.

With no less than eleven metallic shades and the odd solid colour thrown into the mix, too, there's no shortage of paint choices to choose from. The model's contemporary but androgynous styling means that all of the options suit it. Interior trim has come on leaps and bounds, with the wood and leather additions in the range topping Privelege model offering a classy ambience. Options packs allow for creative interior and exterior specifications.

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