With the Scenic, Grand Scenic and Espace in their portfolio, Renault always fared well in the people carrier segment. However, over the last number of years rivals such as the Volkswagen Touran, Citroen’s Grand C4 Picasso and Ford’s S-Max have taken much of MPV lime light. Now the French manufacturer has brought their new Grand Scenic to market but does it have enough charm to encourage the kind of sales which its predecessors experienced.

Undoubtedly the ‘regular’ 5-seat Scenic will out sell its 7-seater ‘Grand’ sibling but for some families the bigger model is the more natural fit. Even at first glance it’s a noticeably larger car because to fit those extra seats in, the Grand Scenic has to be 228mm longer than a Scenic. 70mm of that is as a result of the extended wheelbase while the rear overhang accommodates the remaining 158mm. By their very nature MPV’s are not the most desirable or attractive cars on the road. Function generally supersedes form and the end result is rarely more than a very spacious and practical four wheeled box. The French though have challenged this more than most.

Around this time 5 years ago, Renault unveiled their R-Space Concept at the Geneva Motor Show, and it’s now clear to see that this where the new Scenic was to take its design cues from. Concepts are one thing but often by the time a car makes it to production most of their original flare has been pared back and lost in order to meet the more practical elements of the design brief. Renault however have remained true to the R-Concept’s futuristic good looks and some additional bits of styling from another of their premium concepts – the “Initiale Paris” have also been integrated. The resulting Grand Scenic is a very attractive final product.

As we’ve seen before with Renaults SUV models, no one can pull off a two tone colour scheme quite like the French car-maker. The mink and pearl black paint scheme of the test car was very nice indeed. The size of the 20” alloys gave the Grand Scenic some serious presence however the black plastic inserts on the spokes of the “Exception” wheels do cheapen the overall look. The slick looks continue through to the car’s interior. The large 8.7” portrait infotainment display gives the Grand Scenic an up-market look. It may not be the smoothest touchscreen to use and the glossy black surround is a bit of a magnet for fingerprints but overall its presence gives the Scenic the appearance of being decades ahead of its rivals. MPV’s are all about space.

The rival offerings from Citroen and VW allow for more practical use of their space. It’s pretty easy to slide or drop the middle row of seats and they will accommodate two ISOFIX child seats. The third row of seats though incredibly cramped and are really only just for small children. For an adult, access to them it is a bit of a chore. Using the third row will also require the middle row to be moved forward to the point that only children will fit comfortably. The central tunnel does slide back and forth to make some much needed extra legroom for those second row passengers but it means sacrificing the cup holders up front. Folding down the third-row of seats creates 596 litres of load space, while keeping them in place and there’s still a decent 233 litres on offer.

That’s rather impressive and it’s worth noting that having the ability to fold the seats at the touch of a button makes life so much easier. Many a parent will be eternally grateful for that feature. One of the big bug bearers that I have with MPV’s is that they often can accommodate all the children but rarely can you also transport all the accompanying paraphernalia such as bags and buggies at the same time. The new Grand Scenic goes a long way to addressing that one.

On the road, not a whole lot has changed. The test car was powered by Renault-Nissan’s ever popular 1.6 dCi 130 engine. It’s the same engine that was in the previous generation Scenic. That’s not a bad thing because that 1.6L engine has time and time again proven itself to be both efficient and reliable. It pulls the large Scenic with ease and at no point did the car feel underpowered. Renault quote a combined fuel consumption of 4.6L per 100 km and over the course of the test drive I comfortably achieved around the 5.1L mark. With Co2 emissions of 119g per km, this engine option falls into tax band A4 which carries an annual motor tax bill of €200.

The new Grand Scenic is undoubtedly the best looking car in its class. However, that doesn’t automatically translate to it being the best car in it’s class. Making the move to an MPV is often a painful decision forced out of necessity rather than made by choice. If and when that time comes then the slick looks of the Grand Scenic will undoubtedly prove to be some form of an anaesthetic.

Model:                GRAND SCENIC IV

Version:              Dynamique S Nav dCi 130

Engine:               dCi 130

Gearbox:            Manual

CO2 Emissions:  119 g/km

Consumption:    4.6 l/100km

Starting Price (RRP):       €28,400

Price As Tested:              €35,475