By Patrick James on 2016-12-04 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Renault makes Scenic
A SURVEY has survey found that potential car buyers put looks at the top of the list of priorities, so those clever designers at Renault set about giving them what they want.
The French giant is having a renaissance at the moment with a raft of new models, making it the youngest range of vehicles on the market and a huge step forward in design and quality.
Two new models have just come on stream, the estate version of the excellent Megane GT Sport and the evergreen Scenic, one of the firm's most popular models.
Renault has raised the bar by making an MPV look almost sexy, as well as bringing forward new technical wizardry and retaining the basic premise - keeping it as a a multi purpose vehicle.
The new model line-up is a bewildering 36 option line-up and a a choice of two petrol and three diesel engines with six speed manual or a six or seven speed dual clutch auto gearbox.
A hybrid version will be available next spring with CO2 emissions below 100g/km.
Wider and sitting higher on the road than the outgoing car, styling is elegant with steeply raked windscreen, large window areas with new quarter panels for better vision, 20-inch alloy wheels, which can be customised with inserts, a high belt line accentuates the sculpted appearance.
Depending on trim level, a glass panoramic roof lets light flood the interior while aluminium roof bars are standard on the Grand Scenic.
Other features include distinctive light clusters with the taillights horizontal on the Scenic and vertical on the Grand Scenic. Also for the first time, buyers can opt for a two-tone paint job with two roof colours.
The interior maintains the model's immense practicality while delivering a cabin many premium motors would envy.
It offers the largest stowage capacity in its class, together with electrically-operated one-touch folding seats, which open up a total flat space. The Scenic has 572 litres available while the Grand Scenic offers 596-litres.
The folding seats can be activated from inside the boot or via a link on the dashboard the first in its class to offer this.
For added practicality there is a large multi-function sliding centre console with 13 litres of space.
It has a lit storage bin and doubles as an arm rest which also houses USB and audio ports, while two further USB ports can be found to the rear of the console for the convenience of passengers. When it is slid rearwards it creates a partition between the rear seats.
There are other executive touches available throughout the comfortable and airy cabin, including, one of the best heads-up colour displays I have used, a nearly nine-inch, tablet style touchscreen and a BOSE seven-speaker sound system.
Renault's Multi-Sense system to allow owners to personalise their driving experience and the R-LINK 2 connectivity system allows activation and deactivation of the majority of functions, including driving aids and climate control management. It uses ‘pinch and zoom' screen and includes voice recognition for the navigation system, telephone use, apps and radio.
R-LINK 2 can be personalised to users with the choice of three configurable home pages and six different profiles, which allow access to pre-set driving settings and in-car ambience preferences.
It is a practical car as MPVs must be, but it is also an excellent drive. The models tested here had the 1.6 litre diesel power unit, the 110bhp version in the Scenic and the 130bhp version in the Grand Scenic.
Both are refined and produce good acceleration, the higher powered engine obviously slightly quicker, but both are economical and produce low emissions, a claimed 72.4mpg with 100g/km of CO2, while the Grand Scenic delivers a claimed 61.4mpg and 119g/km. Both excellent in terms of business benefit in kind.
Aided by a slick, six speed box, both pull well through the gears, while the ride is comfortable with the suspension soaking up bumps and potholes with little discomfort to the occupants. For an MPV handling is decent while the steering is direct and responsive. An easy vehicle to drive in most circumstances, offering maximum comfort to occupants.
Renault has always prided itself on safety and the new models make available emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane assist and fatigue alert, which detects driver tiredness through how the car is being steered.
All available is adaptive cruise control, blind sport warning and traffic sign recognition. Also available is reversing camera and hands free parking, auto dip lights, plus the usual stability control, comprehensive list of airbags and assisted braking, all of which earns a five-star EuroNCAP safety rating.
Not all the hi-tech goodies are available on cheaper models, but there is still an impressive level of standard kit on the entry level model which starts at £21,445 on the road, with the Scenic and Grand Scenic Dynamique S Nav models driven here costing £25,455 and £28,445.
Both cars offer an excellent package, with engines and trims to suit all tastes and a four-year, 100,000 mile warranty and they don't half look good.
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