WHEN Renault introduced the motoring world to its larger-than-life Megane Scenic back in 1996 it was greeted with much approval thanks to its voluminous cabin and awesome practicality.
In fact, it went on to scoop the prestigious European Car of the Year title in 1997 and Renault knew it was onto a winner.
With that in mind, a seven-seat option was soon added to the line-up and thus the Grand Scenic was born.
We now have the fourth generation version and its bigger, better and more versatile than ever.
And it needs to be because in recent years the MPV/SUV segment has been flooded with vehicles making it a fiercely competitive place to vie for attention and sales.
The latest Grand Scenic certainly has quite a presence on the road with its striking 20-inch alloys, contrasting roof and door mirrors, roof rails, signature LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, along with a high waistline, sloping roof and smart chrome trim to complete the look.
Move inside and the interior is modern, bright, clutter-free and very spacious. Techno treats are plentiful and the kit on the Dynamique S Nav model include Renault's R-Link 2 multimedia system with an 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen, a head-up display, TomTom sat Nav with European mapping, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity.
Other creature comforts were dual zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, puddle lighting and some optional extras such as hands-free parking, a seven speaker BOSE sound system and some additional safety features that bumped up the price-tag from £28,445 to £31,080.
The Grand Scenic offers seven seat practicality with the two back seats folded flat to the boot floor when not in use. When required, they can automatically be raised and are ideal for transporting children but adults would feel cramped as space is a tad limited.
Elsewhere there is bags of room and the car can easily accommodate five adults and there are cubby holes galore for storing bits and bobs, including a sliding centre console, glovebox, deep door pockets and a multi-position boot floor.
The Grand Scenic was powered by a 1.6-litre 130bhp diesel-driven engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and could reach from 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds and had a top speed of 118mph.
According to official figures, the vehicle can deliver combined fuel efficiency of 61.4mpg with carbon emissions of 119g/km.
Comfort levels within the car are good and the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility thanks to the elevated seating position.
All the controls and dials are ideally positioned for ease of use and the technology is simple to operate.
I did find the touchscreen a little awkward to use when the road surface was not the smoothest, but that aside; features such as the sat nav and other infotainment systems were simple to programme.
In busy town centres, the Grand Scenic was deceptively agile and the hands-free parking is a huge bonus when searching for a space to park.
Out on the faster lanes and motorways, the vehicle was nicely composed and accomplished.
Admittedly, it's not the most dynamic to drive and there is a little body roll when driven a little too enthusiastically into bends, but it was a great all-rounder.
The acceleration through the gears was smooth and responsive with ample power on tap to overtake slow moving farm traffic.
Renault has packed a comprehensive list of safety features into the car too, including an active emergency braking system with pedestrian detection, fatigue alert, lane departure warning, automatic high/low beam, numerous airbags and a Thatcham alarm and immobiliser system.
All in all, the Renault Grand Scenic has certainly moved with the times.
It led the way back in the nineties and is still a strong contender 20 year's later in a sector that is showing little sign of slowing down in the popularity stakes.
£28,445 plus £2,635 extras
130bhp 1,600cc, 4-cylinder diesel-engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual transmission