The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5
The Renault Grand Scenic is a stylish compact MPV that also offers space, practicality, versatility and value. It’s safe too, but depreciation and reliability may be an issue.
Reasons to buy
- Looks stylish
- Good value
- Good to drive
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
Everything that applies to the Renault Scenic applies here, as this is simply a longer version of that car. That means the corporate nose fits well and the swept-back headlamps give the car a sleek look that’s thoroughly contemporary. However, the raised roof line works better with the longer bodyshell, so the Grand Scenic’s proportions are more successful, which makes this car more of a looker than its smaller sibling. However, it faces tough competition amongst a growing number of competitors, with the Ford Grand C-MAX and Mazda5 being the most stylish contenders.
What's the interior like?
If you want a car with an ultra-modern dash, the Grand Scenic should be just the ticket. Renault does some of the boldest dash designs around, with the Grand Scenic featuring a high-tech fascia with large full-colour displays for the car’s major functions. Most of the cabin materials feel of a high quality too, with plenty of brushed alloy highlights to brighten things up. If anything, things are over-designed in places, as quick identification of some of the switchgear isn’t easy, while the stereo remote controls being hidden behind the steering wheel isn’t ideal. Getting comfy is easy however, thanks to plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment.
How practical is it?
As an MPV with three rows of seats, the Grand Scenic is one of the most practical cars out there. It could only be more practical – in terms of carrying capacity – if it was even bigger. As it is, the Grand Scenic can stow just 208 litres with all the seats in place, but a massive 2,063 with them removed. That’s considerably more space than the Ford Grand C-MAX. However, while the third row of seats folds flat into the floor, the second row has to be removed or folded, which isn’t ideal. That middle row also slides back and forth, so you can get the right combination of leg room for the occupants in the various rows.
What's it like to drive?
French cars are renowned for their comfortable ride, and while the Grand Scenic doesn’t have the magic carpet ride that you might expect, its chassis is still tuned for comfort rather than pin-sharp handling. As a result, while there’s a fair bit of body roll in bends because of the Scenic being so tall, it’s pretty well controlled. However, while the ride/handling balance is pretty much spot on, the power-assisted steering feels rather numb – it would really benefit from a bit more feedback and some heavier weighting. The Grand C-MAX is certainly the drivers’ choice, with greater handling precision.
How powerful is it?
Renault offers no fewer than six engines in the Grand Scenic. There are three petrol units as well as three diesels, two of which are offered with a choice of power outputs. Slowest is the 1.5dCi in 105bhp form, which manages 112mph and 0-62mph in 13.3 seconds. The 109bhp version of this engine offers slower acceleration and an identical top speed, as it comes with an automatic gearbox only. There are 1.9 and 2-litre diesel engines offered too, the latter in 148bhp or 158bhp forms. The one to go for is the 1.9dCi 130 though, or if you prefer petrol go for the excellent turbocharged 1.4TCe unit. It’s more fun than the 1.6 or 2-litre units.
How much will it cost me?
None of the petrol engines can crack 40mpg while the 2-litre diesel only just manages to break this barrier. So if low fuel consumption is a priority, your best bet is to go for the 1.5dCi or the 1.9dCi, which can deliver between 50.4mpg and 56.5mpg. Predictably these also have the lowest CO2 emissions, with 135g/km for the 1.5dCi and 149g/km for the 1.9dCi. Even the cleanest petrol engine, the 1.4Tce, emits 173g/km while the 2-litre unit is pegged at 183g/km. However, whatever you buy, fuel and road tax costs will be outstripped by the cost of depreciation – Renaults never hold their value very well, and the Grand Scenic is no exception.
How reliable is it?
This hasn’t been Renault’s strongest area for quite a while now. As well as squeaks and rattles throughout the cabin, many of Renault’s recent cars have suffered from electrical and electronic glitches. Things have improved with the latest models, but the company has yet to prove itself over a longer period.
How safe is it?
Renault focuses on safety with its cars, so it’ll come as no surprise that the Grand Scenic carries a five-star EuroNCAP crash test rating. It’s also packed with safety kit such as anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, ESP (electronic stability programme) and brake assist. There are front and side airbags for those in the front plus curtain airbags for everyone, while every seat gets an adjustable head rest and a three-point seat belt. Other cars in the segment can match this, but there’s not much more that Renault can fit, other than some of the high-tech driver assistance systems currently reserved for more costly cars.
How much equipment do I get?
There are four trim levels offered, the more basic ones with the smaller engines, while the bigger engines get the posher trim levels. Kicking things off is Extreme, which comes with a trip computer, CD/tuner, air-con and electric front windows. Expression brings an electronic parking brake, a dash-mounted display screen, powered rear windows and extra interior lighting. Dynamique TomTom adds alloy wheels, sat-nav, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control and privacy glass. The range-topping Privilege has dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and part-leather trim.
Stylish and dynamically good too, the Grand Scenic is practical, spacious and feels very well put together. There’s a wide choice of engines and trim levels too, while prices aren’t bad either.