WITH 20 years of history under its belt, Renault can confidently lay claim to inventing the world's first compact MPV when it introduced the Scenic model back in 1996, but now in its fourth generation is it still holding its head high in a crossover-SUV obsessed marketplace?
The answer is a resounding ‘yes' and the all-new Scenic is guaranteed to grab the attention of onlookers with its dynamic styling.
Boasting neatly balanced proportions to set off its sporty stance, the car sits on massive 20-inch wheels which helps to make the roofline look lower.
There is a steeply raked panoramic windscreen, C-shaped front lights, permanently-lit 3D-effect LED rear lights, front fog lights, contrasting roof and door mirrors, and sleek streamlining - all features that help to create a sporty and athletic appearance from any angle.
The new Scenic is wider than its predecessor with a longer wheelbase and than means more space inside for passengers.
In addition, the boot offers record-breaking storage space with a 572 litres capacity which is increased to 1,554 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped down. This is accomplished effortlessly thanks to the one-touch folding rear seats set-up which has been carried over from the Espace.
But it's the clever use of interior space that also impresses. For example, the large sliding central console offers 13-litres of storage space and that's double that of any competitors.
On-board technology is plentiful and includes an 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen, TomTom sat nav with European mapping, a six-speaker sound system (an 11-speaker BOSE upgrade is available), DAB radio, Bluetooth, automatic dual zone climate control, puddle lighting and plenty more besides.
The all-new Scenic is also available with Multi-Sense technology which allows the owner to personalise the driving experience. It can be used to modify the accelerator pedal and engine response, engine sound, steering weight, plus the interior lighting ambience through a choice of five colours.
The five-door car (a seven-seat Grand Scenic is available) is on offer in four generously-equipped trim levels called Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav with prices starting from £21,445 and rising to £30,645.
There is also a choice of two petrol and three diesel engines with a hybrid assist model going on sale in the spring of 2017. Customers can also choose between manual or automatic transmissions.
We tried out the new Scenic in Dynamique S Nav trim. It was powered by a 110bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and was priced at £25,445 (£28,080 with options fitted).
The car could reach 62mph from a standing start in 12.4 seconds, topped out at 114mph and according to official figures, could deliver combined fuel economy of 72.4mpg with carbon emissions of 100g/km.
The first thing to mention is how delightfully spacious the interior is. Even with the front seats pushed back there is ample leg room in the rear.
The interior of the car is beautifully set-out with all controls and instrumentation perfectly positioned for driver usability and when it comes to performance the car lives up to all the hype up too.
Despite being on 20-inch wheels the ride was anything but bouncy. It was assured and very grounded and that meant bends could be attacked with confidence. The all-round visibility is excellent and comfort levels very high.
In town centres, the elevated driving position resulted in good all-round visibility and then out on the faster open roads, the acceleration through the gears was swift and smooth with ample power on tap to overtake slower moving vehicles.
There was a little wind noise from the large door mirrors when pushed hard, but generally the cabin was nicely insulated against outside noise making the whole driving experience a very pleasant one.
The Scenic has been awarded the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings and features a number of advanced driver assistance systems, including active emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist and fatigue alert.
Then there is the likes of traffic sign recognition with over-speed prevention, blind spot warning, hands free parking and automatic high low beam to complete the safety package.
All in all, the new Scenic is a fabulous car - it may not deliver the most dynamic driving experience, but it's a top achiever when it comes to styling, practicality, economy, on-board technology, safety and all-round appeal.