Review: Renault Grand Scénic

Buying a people carrier is a bit of a midlife milestone. But Matthew Gwyther has fallen for his 'Battle Bus'.

by Matthew Gwyther
Last Updated: 26 Nov 2015

There comes a point in most guys' lives when they are forced to succumb to the people carrier. (Girls rarely feel it with the same pain.) It's a desperate watershed moment, signifying that you're never going to have that Porsche 911 but are going to be made to pilot a lumbering ship of juvenile fools - your kids - for the foreseeable future. And that you're probably closer to death than birth.

It happened to me about five years ago and I bought a Renault Grand Scénic. Slightly used. In light blue. I know. But do you know what? I'm rather fond of it now. Our relationships with cars are strange things - more complex than with any other manufactured possession. Who feels a soft spot for his flatscreen telly? I've now owned nine cars in my life and the Scénic is probably in the top three in my affections.

The newer model is hardly a massive leap forward. Indeed the fact that this one was powered by the Jezebel's juice - diesel - may be construed as a downside. I discouraged the children from direct inhalation of the exhaust pipe. When the Scénic arrived way back in 1996, what made it ground-breaking was its clever intuitive use of interior space and versatility. If you didn't want a barge like the Espace but wanted to transport paraphernalia - human and inanimate - it was the answer. It has cubby holes I've yet to discover.

We call ours the Battle Bus and it's had a few scrapes. Got hit by a joyriding Vespa and lived to tell the tale. The stains and microbial counts are unspeakable. (Get one in wipe clean leather if you can afford it.) And we dread punctures as there is no spare tyre in our version, although the new one has a get-home suspended underneath. However, for a Renault it's been surprisingly reliable. Even the complex electrics - and it comes with all manner of bells and whistles - have held up. All seven seats will fit someone, although any kid over the age of six will struggle to get comfy in the pair that pull out of the boot floor.

The Grand Scénic is an unshowy, deeply practical, cart horse that gets shit done. It still rides a bit like a mattress, wallowing around but is hard to pilot aggressively or badly. Preferable to a Ford Galaxy - which is a bit Addison Lee - or the comedy show Fiat Multipla, but hardly suitable for the traffic light Grand Prix. But who needs that? I get ahead first on things other than the high street. I'm more grown up now. Honest.

Rating 2.5/5


Grand Scénic Dynamique Nav dCi 130

Price From £23,715

Engine 1,598 cc

Transmission 6-speed gearbox

Fuel consumption 64.2 mpg (combined cycle)

CO2 emisisons 114 g/km

Power 130 bhp

0-62mph 11.1 seconds

Top speed 121 mph


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