SOME car makers have decided that there is no future for the compact MPV but Renault plans to prove them wrong.
The French firm launched the segment 20 years ago with the first Scenic and they believe the latest version has enough talent to shine in today's crossover-SUV-obsessed market.
The all-new Scenic certainly has lots of style. Its shapely body sits on huge 20-inch wheels which surprisingly don't damage the ride too much.
It is also very practical in both Scenic and Grand Scenic versions with loads of storage in the cabin and boot as well as versatile seats that flip and fold easily.
The fourth generation Scenic is also a nice car to drive and it is surprisingly agile on twisting country roads and cruises nicely at motorway speeds.
It comes in a variety of trims and with a choice of three diesel and two petrol engines with a hybrid assist model arriving in the spring. Customers can also choose between manual and automatic transmissions.
The Scenic sits on the same platform as the new Renault Megane hatchback and is offered in the same body styles as before, the five-seat and the longer seven-seat Grand Scenic.
There are four trim levels available entry-level Expression +, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and range-topping Signature Nav.
Even base models are well specced and come fitted with kit such as active emergency braking, cruise control, a seven-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, LED running lights, dual-zone climate control and auto lights and wipers.
As well as looking so much better than its predecessor the new car sits lower than similarly-sized crossovers or SUVs and because of its lower centre of gravity it provides a sharper drive with less body roll.
The newcomer is also wider, with a longer wheelbase and the result is more space for passengers.
The bright spacious cabin offers class-leading storage space in numerous areas including a clever sliding centre consule which provides up to 13 litres of space.
Boot capacity is also impressive at 572 litres and with the 60:40 split rear seats collapsed this can be increased to 1,554 litres.
Renault has put a lot of tech in this new model and the cars we tried came with the larger 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen, TomTom sat nav with European mapping, DAB radio, Bluetooth, automatic dual zone climate control, puddle lighting, a six-speaker sound system which you can upgrade to a BOSE 11-speaker unit.
Owners can personalise their vehicle if they have the Multi-Sense package which enables you to adjust the engine sound, steering weight, engine response, lighting and other features.
All the instruments and controls are well laid-out, clear to read and easy to use. The large windscreen means visibility is good and the elevated driving position gives a clear view of the road ahead and other traffic.
Apart from some wind noise, the cabin is very quiet and the seats extremely comfortable.
The Scenic has already been awarded five stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings, thanks to its driver assistance systems, including active emergency braking with pedestrian detection,fatigue alert and lane keeping assist. In addition you get automatic high-low beam, traffic sign recognition, blind spot warning, hands free parking and much more.
I had the chance to try both versions of the Scenic recently - both with the same 1.6 dCi diesel engines but with different outputs.
The Scenic came with what will prove to be the most popular engine, the 110bhp plant mated to a six-speed manual gearbox which is good for 114mph and takes 12.4 seconds to reach 62mph. It has emissions of 100g/km and Renault claims it is good for up to 72.4mpg on the combined cycle.
The Grand Scenic utilised the bigger capacity 130bhp version of the same unit with the same gearbox which added a bit of zest.
It was a second quicker in the sprint at 11.4 seconds and had a slightly higher 118mph top speed. Emissions increased to 119/g/km with economy dropping to 61.4mpg on the combined cycle.
The Scenic is now more desirable than it has ever been with its striking looks and practical cabin and with prices starting from £21,445 it also represents good value for money.