By Andy Enright
The seven-seat Renault Grand Scenic is often thought of as a supporting actor to the big-selling five-seat Scenic MPV, but for those who need a little more space than the standard length car can afford, it gets star billing in its own right. Even if you need a vehicle that your family can grow into, buying a used Grand Scenic often doesn't cost a lot more than its more truncated sibling. Years of continual development by Renault and a fundamental understanding of what really counts to users of this class of vehicle has seen the Grand Scenic excel in its class. Here's a primer on what to look for when shopping for a used one.
5dr MPV (1.4, 1.6, 2.0 petrol, 1.5, 1.9, 2.0 diesel [Extreme, Expression, Dynamique, Dynamique TomTom, Privilege])
The long wheelbase Grand Scenic was first introduced with the launch of the Scenic II in 2003, but the cars we're looking at here are specifically based on Scenic III which first appeared at the 2009 Paris Show. Out went that trapezoidal Renault grille and in came a smoother look. Renault tried to do a lot with this car. When a manufacturer introduces a new model, they tend to try to stick to one or two clear themes, but more was expected of this generation Grand Scenic. As well as introducing a new design language to the Scenic sub-brand, this car also packed in a lot more high-technology features, offered a huge choice of engines and delivered far lower emissions.
This was also a time when the MPV market was recovering from a fragmentation, as manufacturers chased ever smaller niches. After an initial boom in seven-seat MPV models, there was a renewed interest in five-seat designs and the Grand Scenic was one vehicle whose sales dwindled a little as a result. Although this version only made up around 30 per cent of all Scenic variant sales, the Grand Scenic nevertheless clawed back significant market share for RenauIt against seven-seat rivals.
In March 2011, Renault introduced the option of a Bose stereo upgrade for the Dynamique TomTom model. This model Grand Scenic was updated in Autumn 2012 by a car with a number of new engines and refreshed styling. You'll spot these so-called 'Phase2' cars by their revised front end with gloss black and chrome detailing, standard LED daytime running lights and updated rear lights.
What You Get
Being very nearly the size of a Renault Espace, this Grand Scenic should be big inside and it is. Even so, four and a half metres of length still isn't quite enough to take seven full-sized adults in long distance comfort, even though with a few compromises, you can get close. The seats in the second row slide collectively or individually backwards and forwards, so you can set them to offer good legroom for second or third row passengers, though not both. Mostly then, owners will probably choose to maximise second row legroom and keep the back two seats for kids or adults on short journeys. Talking of kids, the cabin is a triumph of child-friendliness, with seat back tables, door pockets designed for drink bottles and around 40 storage spaces, including front and rear floor cubbies, plus trays under the front seats.
And luggage space? Well, as you might expect, there isn't much - just 208 litres - with the third row seating in use, but once you use the easy one-touch motion to fold them flat into the floor, this area can be increased to 564 litres. That's easily enough for, say, a couple of bags of golf clubs and a baby buggy but if you want more yet still need to carry five passengers, you can slide the second seating row forward to create up to 702 litres of space. Going further still requires you to fold the second seating row up against those at the front - sadly, they won't fold flat into the floor. However, if you've space in the garage, you can remove the three chairs completely, to free up a massive 2063-litre space with a load length of around 2.5m.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
With so many trim levels and engines to choose from, make sure you know exactly what you're being offered. Very little goes wrong, with the automatic transmission issues which dogged the previous model having been rectified this time round. Renault issued two recalls, one for the electronic dash blanking out and the other for the electronic handbrake engaging. Ensure all seats, the rear load space cover and the storage bin lids are present and correct and look for the usual family interior damage. Check that all the electrics and air conditioning work properly.
(approx prices, based on a 2010 Grand Scenic 1.6 VVT) A new clutch will be about £180 and a full exhaust system, excluding the catalyst, should be around £375. Brake pads are about £50 a pair, an alternator close to £180, a starter motor will be just under £170 and a replacement radiator is about £225.
On the Road
You automatically approach a seven-seat MPV measuring four and a half meters from nose to tail with certain expectations about how it will drive but it's worth giving the Grand Scenic the benefit of the doubt. Comfort is the priority and rightly so but Renault has also managed to instil a high degree of poise and manoeuvrability. With its suspension system lifted from the Megane, the Grand Scenic resists cornering roll well and has plenty of grip at the front wheels. The ride quality is first class, the car tiptoeing over poor road surfaces and avoiding too much wobbliness on sudden undulations. The steering is sometimes too light and the manual gearbox isn't the slickest but in general, considering the Grand Scenic's family remit, Renault has got the balance just about right.
To complete the job, it'll be down to you to make the right engine choice. Best of the bunch if you want petrol power is the smooth 130bhp 1.4 TCe turbo unit, miles more responsive than the entry-level 110bhp 1.6 VVT and able to pull cleanly from as little as 1,000rpm, even in 5th gear. As a result, it feels quicker than the 0-60mph time of 11.5s would suggest but even that is enough to make the purchase of the 140bhp 2.0 model irrelevant unless you need its CVT automatic gearbox. If you're after diesel, the 1.5 dCi 106 version might be enough if you're not likely to be often travelling fully laden. If you will be, then the 1.9 dCi 130 variant might be better suited to your needs. You'll be even better placed if you can stretch to the 2.0 dCi 160 diesel model, its 380Nm of torque enough to galvanise even a fully-loaded Grand Scenic into instant action. This version emphasises what is arguably the Grand Scenic's strongest dynamic suit, namely its outstanding refinement. Plastic and felt have been built into the flooring to cut road noise with impressive results.
The Renault Grand Scenic came of age with the 2009 model year car and as long as the electronics all work properly and the interior hasn't been annihilated by unruly children, it's an easy car to recommend. A diesel Dynamique TomTom in a sober colour will always be easy to buy and easy to sell on without incurring a big financial penalty.