As a forerunner in the capsular seven-seater genre, Renault has certainly had time to hone its craft of making multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs). Today, some 20 years after the first Scenic redefined the family carrier as a “monospace” wagon, the model is still something to be reckoned with.
The Grand Scenic (as it has been called since 2003) is now bigger than ever. It is longer, with most of the extension going to the wheelbase, where it matters. It is also noticeably wider, which means more elbow room for squabbling siblings.
And it has slightly more ground clearance, which translates to easier access into and out of the vehicle, especially for folks who have left their partying days far behind.
Despite the growth spurt, the car has a smart, elegant street presence, with none of the ungainly slab-sided profile that MPVs tend to inherit. It is easily the sleekest in its class.
At the helm, the driver enjoys a commanding view, thanks to a bigger glass area. The windscreen extends upwards and the front quarter windows are sizeable – making turns less stressful for those who do not quite know where the left wheel ends and the curb begins.
Passengers get plenty of space. And not necessarily only space you can see. Like all its predecessors, the new Grand Scenic boasts a host of storage spaces – 14 – in places contraband smugglers dream of.
Its boot has usable stowage even when all seven seats are occupied. But should you be on a furniture- shopping expedition, the car comes with nifty buttons in the boot area, which will collapse its two rows of rear seats at a touch.
The driver can also access this function without leaving his seat. This is one of the coolest features to surface this decade. It makes life for those with MPVs a lot more pleasant.
When both rows of seats are flattened, there is more than enough room for a full-size mountain bicycle. Sure, a number of other cars can accommodate that too, but the ease with which you can bring those seats down in the Renault makes loading up before a long ride less of a chore.
When the entire clan is on board, the Renault exudes its charm as an MPV. Its ride is pliant and its cabin is akin to one on a big yacht – calm even when the going is a little choppy. This is surprising, since the car is shod with oversized 20-inch wheels. Even more surprisingly, these wheels do not look particularly big on the Renault.
The car’s panoramic glass roof, with a one-touch sunscreen, is just the thing to make a vehicle filled with seven people a little brighter.
What the car sorely lacks is a powerful air-conditioner. The climate control in the test car has to be dialled all the way to the lowest temperature for the cabin to be chilled on a sunny day. In a place like Singapore, a car’s air-conditioning is as crucial as its engine.
The Grand Scenic is powered by Renault’s familiar 1.5-litre turbo-diesel. It is the same power plant as before, but tuned up to produce 20Nm more torque. It is not an engine for thrills and spills, but one that is well suited for steady progress.
The test car averages 14.5km per litre, which is far from its declared economy figure, but still not too shoddy for a biggish seven-seater.
Final word: You might want to get junior to sit in front with you. He will enjoy the iPad-size infotainment screen.
Renault Grand Scenic 1.5 (A)
ENGINE 1461cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbo-diesel
MAX POWER 110bhp at 4000rpm
MAX TORQUE 260Nm at 1750rpm
GEARBOX 7-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100KM/H 13.2 seconds
TOP SPEED 184km/h
CONSUMPTION 25km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE $136,999
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