By Mike Torpey on 2017-08-12 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Renault Grand Scenic
dCi 130 Dynamique S
THE surge in popularity of SUVs and multi-purpose vehicles, or crossovers, may seem a recent phenomenon.
In truth though it's more a case of that old adage about time flying.
For instance it is 20 years since the much-heralded Renault Scenic scooped the 1997 European Car of the Year crown.
Originally known as the Renault Megane Scenic due to being mechanically identical to the French brand's popular hatchback, its maker soon expanded the range to offer seven seats - and the Grand Scenic was born.
These days the 'grand' is bigger again, smart looking, well specced up as standard and a great fun car as well as practical one for families.
Space being the final frontier for MPVs, there's enough room to swing the proverbial cat inside the grand's cabin.
Nor is that merely an optical illusion magnified by the tested variant's full-length fixed glass roof, because the new Grand Scenic is actually both longer and wider than its third generation predecessor.
Adequate room up front goes pretty much without saying in a vehicle like this, but there's also plenty of scope to stretch the old legs out in the back too thanks to individual rear seats that slide forward and back.
While the third row is realistically only for kids - and should you need to quickly fold everything flat for some serious clobber carrying, a push on some buttons in the boot completes that job in the blink of an eye.
The resulting space is sufficient to shift a shedload of gear, including long flatpacks, the official capacity totalling 1,737 litres.
That's in addition to smart features like a sliding central box, airline-style trays on the front seatbacks and a dash that's dominated by an 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen.
Four trim grades comprise the latest line-up plus a choice of TCe petrol and dCi diesel engines, one of the best of which is the 1.6-litre dCi 130 unit.
With its 320Nm of pulling power this is a strong engine, well up to effortlessly dealing with a full complement aboard and capable of lapping up the motorway miles with little fuss.
Its ride is on the stiff side but its nonetheless an enjoyable and fairly economical vehicle to drive, though my own average fuel return over 350 miles was 41.1 miles per gallon compared with the official combined figure of 61.4.
The Dynamique S Nav trim grade sits in the middle of the three higher spec levels and comes with a plethora of kit varying from a head-up colour display and rear parking camera to puddle lights and Renault's R-Link 2 multimedia system.
Renault Grand Scenic dCi 130 Dynamique S Nav
Mechanical: 130bhp, 1,600cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 11.4 seconds
Combined MPG: 61.4
Insurance Group: 16
C02 emissions: 119g/km
Bik rating: 25%
Warranty: 4yrs/100,000 miles
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