It is generally accepted that Renault really popularised the MPV in Europe when it introduced the Scenic and later the Grand Scenic.
After overhauling its range last year it has now returned to its roots with the latest versions Scenic and Grand Scenic lead new MPV offensive for Renault
of the five seater Scenic and seven seater Grand Scenic, now their mainstay MPVs after dropping the Espace and Grand Espace models.
Last year in the UK Renault sold a total of 12,823 Scenics and Grand Scenics with roughly a 50-50 sales split between the two.
The third generation five seat Scenic prices start at £18,325 and range up to £21,325. There is the choice of 1.6-litre 110hp petrol and 1.5-litre 110hp and 1.6-litre 130hp dCi diesel units and from spring a new 1.2-litre TCe 115hp petrol unit will join the engine line-up.
The seven seat Grand Scenic range starts at £19,725 and rises through to £22,725. The rationalised line-up has the same current engine options as the Scenic. All diesel units with a manual transmission have a Stop & Start function as standard.
Under the rationalisation programme there is just one Dynamique TomTom trim level for all engine options but there is an additional £1,500 Luxe Pack for diesel powered models which includes 17-inch alloy wheels, an upgraded sound system, a higher grade of synthetic leather upholstery and lane departure and automatic high/low beam headlights.
The standard Dynamique TomTom specification includes 16-inch alloy wheels, manual air conditioning, automatic headlights and wipers, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors and synthetic leather and cloth upholstery.
I have just completed a short test drive of both versions, the Scenic with the new 1.5-litre dCi 110hp diesel engine and the Grand Scenic with the 1.6-litre 130hp dCi diesel engine carried over from the 2011 range.
Both these new technology engines are a good example of downsizing but without losing power output but saving on fuel consumption with lower CO2 emissions which in turn lower road tax and company car tax charges.
The Scenic compact MPV is smartly restyled with a chunky upright stance. It is easy to get in and out and the high seating positions and large glass areas make for excellent visibility which should keep the family entertained on long journeys and makes life easier for the driver. The rear seats fold in various combinations so people or load carrying combinations are versatile.
Boot space with all five seats in use is 437-litres. Fold the rear row away and this space grows to an impressive 1,637-litres of room, very good for a vehicle just 4.3 metres in length. This model is ideal for family use or for couples or singles that just need extra space to carry their lifestyle goods and equipment.
The new 1.5-litre dCi 110hp turbodiesel engine uses the latest direct injection common rail technology so it offers punchy power and the 260Nm of torque from just 1,750rpm making it very responsive. This high torque from low engine speed, even with the CO2 reducing high sixth gear, makes it responsive on the open road for acceleration.
Top speed is 112mph, zero to 62mph takes 12.5 seconds. Officially in the Combined Cycle this engine will return 68.9mpg, my test drive figure was much more conservative with 50.6mpg covering most types of driving.
Even better news is the low CO2 emission figure of 105g/km so road tax in the First Year rate is £0 and then only £20 per annum for the second year onwards. Company car drivers will pay 13 per cent now and this goes up with the new Benefit-in-Kind rates from April to 15 per cent. The price of this model is £20,225.
The Grand Scenic seven seat MPV is just an extension of its Scenic stablemate being 4.6 metres in length and that means a third row of two seats which fold away when not in use down into the floor. You will have to be agile, slim and probably with short legs to fit into these seats.
The second and third rows of seats fold down into the floor to give a large flat load area when required. The minimum boot space with all the seats in position is 564-litres and this extends to a massive 1,863-litres so again this model is ideal as the family bus or for active and load carrying couples and singles.
The 1.6-litre 130hp, 320Nm dCi turbodiesel unit is relatively new and is carried forward from the outgoing models. This engine has just found its way to Renault’s manufacturing partner Nissan for use in their Qashqai crossover models.
Top speed in the Grand Scenic is 121mph, zero to 62mph takes 11.1 seconds, officially the fuel economy is 64.2mpg and on my short test drive the vehicle returned 43.4mpg. The CO2 emissions are 114g/km so road tax is £0 in the First Year and £30 per annum after that. Company car drivers will currently pay 13 per cent in BIK tax which goes up from April to 16 per cent.
The ride comfort is again compliant but the extra length and weight does increase cornering bodyroll and the vehicle has more ‘float’ through corners and felt less sharp in the handling department.
The extra power, given the added carrying capacity, is welcome and this model has that added edge for maintaining higher motorway cruising speeds and with a little more zip for A and B road journeys.
Both models are good examples on how the industry is accommodating our needs as we are being driven to affordable, compact, versatile, smaller engine vehicles without the loss of performance and still producing better fuel consumption and cleaner emissions.