27.5.2019Renault Grand Scenic TCe 140 review
Those in the market for a large, practical car head increasingly towards SUVs these days; but that's not to say that the MPV is dead in the water. There are a number of models available to buy, with Renault a strong contender thanks to the Scenic and Grand Scenic. Here we test the larger Grand Scenic for the full seven-seater experience.
Review by Chris Lilly
A range of petrol and diesel engines are available to buyers, and under the bonnet of the model tested is the 1.3-litre TCe petrol unit, producing 140hp in this guise. Combined with 240 Nm of torque, the powerplant is good for a 0-62mph time of 10.3 seconds, and a top speed of 119mph. It's a sensible choice for buyers looking for a family workhorse, particularly considering the market's move away from diesel. Renault's dCi diesel option might be a better choice for those racking up serious motorway mileage, but the petrol deals well with long-distance work, and has plenty about it around town and on open roads. The Grand Scenic is a large car for a relatively compact engine, but times when you wish there was more power are rare, and it suits the car's needs much of the time. That's even considering the Renault spend a fair amount of its time packed with a family holiday's worth of kit . . . and family. The six-speed manual gearbox doesn't encourage swift shifts, but it does a good job. Both the transmission and engine are hardly going to set the pulse racing, though it's a practical combination, with no pretence of any sportiness; and all the better for it. In town, the engine is eager to rev, allowing the driver to shift up the gears quickly, while it settles down well at speed. Everything is easy to use and kept in the car's comfort zone.
The Grand Scenic has far larger wheels than might be associated with people-carriers, primarily for styling reasons. Fitted with 20-inch alloys, on paper at least, potential drivers may be thinking that the Renault will offer a harsh ride. That's not the case however; in fact it's far from it. No ultra-narrow tyre sidewalls means there's some suppleness in the rubber to soak up road imperfections, and the suspension has been designed to match. The Grand Scenic - as is reasonable for this type of car - is no sporty model, and has a definite focus on comfort. There's a fair degree of body roll when cornering hard, but the flip side of this is a comfortable ride at other times. The larger alloys aren't noticeably worse than rivals' efforts with smaller wheels over pot-holes and rough surfaces, and the springs remove much of the road's imperfections from coming through into the cabin. The Grand Scenic is a relaxed cruiser too, something that suits the set-up which lacks feel for the driver. Again, those thinking of the Grand Scenic's dynamic potential will be better served focusing on the softer side of driving. Here, it performs well, and the light steering makes driving in towns, car parks, and other tight situations, a doddle.
The large wheels mentioned above is down the Grand Scenic's crossover-inspired looks. With buyers eschewing traditional MPVs for large SUVs, Renault has hit back by blending the practicality of an MPV with some SUV-lite styling. As such, large alloys are needed to prevent the car from looking over-sized on small wheels, and the package as a whole works well. It's certainly one of the most stylish MPVs, looks better than a number of the SUV rivals it is targeting. From the front, it's difficult to tell the difference between the smaller Scenic and not Grand variety. Move round to the side, and the added length is a clear differentiator, while further round still to the rear, Renault has treated the back-end differently to the conventional Scenic. This added length really comes in handy in terms of practicality. For example, the Grand Scenic is a seven-seat MPV, with a third row of seats large enough for kids to occupy. When not needed, these fold away into the boot floor, to create a huge load area. An convenient comparison in terms of practicality was on show during my time with the Grand Scenic. Having gone away on a family camping break in a Kadjar, the car was packed to the roof with kit and children in what is considered a practical family-sized SUV. Returning in a Grand Scenic - with the same amount of stuff - the luggage sat at the window line. It made a practical car look pretty small. Looking at occupant space, the Grand Scenic is better used as a five seater if carting around adults. Anything larger than a pre-teen child in the third row of seats will require the middle row to be slid forward to the extend that leg room gets a bit cramped. It's a common feature for seven-seaters, apart from those based on vans really. Shoulder room is good though, as is head room.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Fitted to the test car was Renault's 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which works well enough but is a little laggy when selecting some functions, and isn't as good as rival set-ups. Higher-trim levels get an 8.7-inch system that is portrait rather than the conventional landscape, and offers increased functionality, plus a greater view of the road ahead when using the sat-nav. Some touch-sensitive media controls sit below the standard system, and beneath that are touch-sensitive functions for the heating and ventilation system, with a handful of dials breaking the large, flat centre console up. It's a decent bit of kit, but not the most advanced or stylish around - a good effort though. The driver gets a good driving position, though unsurprisingly high. A set of instrument screens show a variety of bits of information in the central binnacle, which can be handy with sat-nav instructions, media controls, and driving data. The rest of the cabin has cubby holes galore, with a huge number of different places in which to store bits and pieces. The central storage bin can be moved forward and backwards to free up leg space for the central rear seat, or reveal additional storage space. The interior is light and airy, with lots of glass around, and the car tested was fitted with an optional panoramic glass roof to make the cabin lighter still. Materials used are of a middling quality; not top of the range but far from bargain basement too. They're behind the likes of VW's Touran, but comparable to Citroen's Grand C4 Spacetourer.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
As you might expect, a diesel will cost the least to run in terms of fuel costs for high mileage drivers. However, the 1.3 TCe 140 petrol unit performs pretty well, with economy figures of 40.9 MPG and 139 g/km CO2 decent to say the least. Having covered 700 miles in the Grand Scenic, the trip computer reported an average of 45.7 MPG, which is a very good showing all things considered. This included some long trips, but not a lot of motorway work was carried out, and it's a reasonable target for drivers not spending all their time in built up areas. To tax, the Grand Scenic will cost £205 for the first year, included in the OTR, and then the standard rate of £145 per year.
There are a few systems fitted to the Grand Scenic that help drivers make the most of the car's potential efficiency. An Eco mode lessens throttle response and improves air conditioning efficiency, while there are a host of functions in the car's infotainment set-up to help provide feedback. Outright fuel economy figures are reported on, plus there is a driving score available, rating the driver on acceleration, braking, and coasting. Over the 700 miles covered, the system reported that 86 of them were covered without using any fuel, and there is an Eco-coaching section to help drivers develop a more efficient driving style. A gear change indicator helps nudge drivers to sit in the correct ratio for the task, and the TCe engine fitted is one of the latest available from the Renault parts bin. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 48.
The Grand Scenic comes with a choice of three trim levels; Play, Iconic, and Signature. Play includes features such as 20-inch alloys, seven-inch colour touchscreen, climate control, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. Iconic tested adds front parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, synthetic leather steering wheel, automatic headlights and wipers, a sliding centre console, tinted windows, and Renault's R-Link2 system, which includes TomTom live navigation, DAB, Bluetooth connectivity, and voice control. Range topping Signature adds a colour heads-up display, larger 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen system, panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, and one-touch folding second- and third-row seats. There is a good level of safety kit fitted to all Grand Scenic models. Options added to the test car were the panoramic glass roof, rear parking camera, and contrasting roof.
Although an increasingly overlooked area of the car market, the Grand Scenic proves that there is little to challenge a good MPV in terms of practicality. The Grand Scenic is a great car for those with plenty to carry - be it people or kit. There are some larger rivals available, but few as stylish or well equipped.
Model tested: Renault Grand Scenic TCe 140 Iconic
Engine / CO2: 1.3 litre petrol / 139 g/km
Trim grades: Play, Iconic, S-Edition
On-road price: Iconic trim from £24,815. Price as tested: £26,915
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars