TO ALL the mummies, daddies, five-a-side football team coaches and folk who fawn at the frightfully clever stuff on Grand Designs… this one’s for you.
The Renault Grand Scenic is every car you’ll ever need. It seats several bundles of joy or a squad of sweaty soccerists and, thanks to some smart-arsed interior thinking of the sort that would make Kevin McCloud salivate, it’ll transport a fair amount of their kit as well.
Right from the off, it’s clear that the Grand Scenic is remarkably accomplished , supple over the bumps and snooze-inducingly comfortable – but that should come as no surprise. Renault has been at this seven-seat game for yonks, first with the Espace, then with previous-generation Grand Scenics.
This latest model loses some of its predecessor’s fussy detailing, but none of its style, while space and pace are improved. With seven fully adjustable seats and 40 – yes, four-zero – cubby holes and stowage points dotted around the cabin, you’ll discover all 43 quintillion Rubik’s Cube permutations before you’ve run out of ways to rearrange the furniture in your Renault. Space in the second row of seats is particularly impressive. Six-footers can sit behind six footers with legroom to spare. Renault says the third row of seats will accommodate a couple of 5ft 9in adults, but we reckon you could squeeze a couple of taller passengers back there for short journeys without risking DVT.
With all seven seats in place, the boot can swallow 702 litres of luggage. Fold the third row flat and remove the middle row altogether (it’s all done in seconds with a few tugs on a few straps), and that increases to a van-rivalling 2,063 litres.
From the driver’s seat, the view forward is dominated by an imposing screen which serves as a speedo, TomTom satnav and in-car entertainment system all at once. If the Renault was a Grand Designs project, this would be the talking point of Kevin’s favourite Cornish barn conversion, from which the owner could watch 500 channels, control his central heating and order in more taramasalata when the fridge gets a bit low.
Mindful of the fact that many new dads might still be pining for their boy racer days, Renault wrings a remarkable 130bhp from the 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engine, which whisks the Grand Scenic along briskly. A 0-60 time of 11.1 seconds and a top speed of 121mph can’t match the performance figures of the hot hatch you’ll have to forfeit for the sake of family car ownership, but it’s hardly what you’d call tardy. A combined 64mpg will appeal to the sensible side of your character of which you were hitherto unaware.
That’s not all – the £1,500 optional BOSE pack, as fitted to our test car, adds, among other things, fetching 17-inch black alloys, automatic dual-zone climate control and, best of all, a nine-speaker stereo, against whose Carnegie Hall-filling cacophony, cries of “are we nearly there yet?” and “Daddy, I’ve just been terribly, terribly sick all over the rearmost row of seats” don’t stand a chance. Don’t worry: Teflon-coated upholstery makes mopping up much easier.
An electric panoramic sunroof is a £620 option, but well worth speccing, as it floods the cabin with natural light, transforming a mere car into a mobile orangery. Yikes. I’m starting to sound like Kevin. Time to sign off.
CAR: Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique TomTom dCi 130
PRICE: £22,200 (£24,950 as tested)
PERFORMANCE: Max speed 121mph; 0-62mph 11.1s
MPG: 64.2 combined