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Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique TomTom TCe 130

Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique TomTom TCe 130

Model/Engine size: 1.4-litre
Fuel: Petrol
Fuel economy combined: 38.2 mpg

Beating Spirit rating: 7/10

The Renault Grand Scenic is one of the most compact cars that you’ll find that can seat seven, so with its new 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, is this one of the most efficient ways to transport lots of people?

The original Scénic was voted European Car of the Year in 1997, reflecting its innovative approach to providing levels of interior space and versatility that conventional C-segment cars couldn’t offer.

The Scénic II arrived in 2003, complete with two different length options. This latest Grand Scénic is the third vehicle to be released in the new Mégane programme. It’s longer, taller and wider than the previous model, with a longer wheelbase.

In total there are seven engines, plus three transmissions and four trim levels to choose from.

Engines consist of three petrol and four dCi diesels. Then there’s the choice of a six-speed manual, a six-speed automatic, or a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission).

The engines include a new petrol unit, the 1.4 TCe 130 (Turbo Control efficiency), as tested, and the new 2.0 dCi 150 and 160 FAP.

Developed by the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the new TCe 130 engine returns 38.2 mpg (combined) and emits 168 g/km of CO2. Although its capacity is just 1,397cc, Renault claims it has the power of a 1.8-litre engine with 130hp at 5,500rpm, and torque to match a 2.0-litre unit, with 190Nm at 2,250rpm.

If you want lower emissions, then the Grand Scénic 1.5 dCi 106 has the lowest emissions in the seven-seat compact MPV class, with a combined cycle fuel consumption of 55.4 mpg and CO2 emissions of just 135g/km.

Renault says that the driver’s seat and steering wheel are now more adaptable on this new model, making it easier for all drivers to find a comfortable position, however it took us a long time to find the right position. But once the right position was found, our testers felt comfortable after emerging from the driver’s seat after a long run.

With its large windscreen, visibility is good, and being relatively high it makes motorway driving relaxing.

The Grand Scénic is easy to drive. The steering is light, as is the clutch, which on our test car had a long travel. Light controls are a good thing for parents transporting lots of children. The petrol engine will also suit likely user-requirements such as nipping around urban areas.

Renault says that the new improved suspension design contributes to significantly reduced body roll, and the new electric power steering system results in more precise steering. However the verdict of our testers was that although the ride was comfortable on motorways, on back roads it was soft and ‘bouncy’, and the car has light steering. When loaded the ride settles down slightly.

On the motorway there was sufficient torque in 6th to slow down to 50 mph for roadwork sections (2,000 rpm) and back to 70 mph (3,000 rpm) without feeling any strain on the engine or the need to change gear.

However it was felt that the gearing was too low and too close, resulting in a number of quick changes up to 45 mph and then searching for 7th to keep the revs down on the motorway.

Real-life fuel economy was not great around town, easily dropping to 25 mpg at some times. On a long run it averaged 34 mpg, or 37 mpg if driven sedately – close to the claimed 38.2 mpg combined figure.

The engine is smooth but the ESP system can cut the power if you try and accelerate quickly to get into traffic, which can be potentially dangerous; however you can turn the ESP off.

Because the Grand Scénic is a compact MPV, the interior is probably one of the most important elements of the car, so it’s reassuring that it has all the seating flexibility that you’d expect from a modern car in this category.

There are 40 stowage points available around the cabin and lots of headroom; this, combined with reasonable length, provides a spacious interior for its external dimensions. Although it can fit seven adults, children would be more comfortable.

A five-seat version of the Grand Scénic does exist, but this isn’t available in the UK, where the new Grand Scénic is offered exclusively with seven seats.

Configurations allow seven seats and no boot, or five seats plus a boot. The second row seats are individually adjustable and can slide forwards or backwards up to 170mm.The seatbacks can also be upright or tipped forward; the entire seat can be tipped forward, or removed altogether.

However the middle row of seats doesn’t fold into the floor, which limits practicality. Although you can remove and refit the seats, it’s not that easy, and they’re heavy.

In terms of specification levels, there are four grades: Extreme, Expression, Dynamique TomTom and Privilčge TomTom.

From early this year, Dynamique and Privilčge models gained the standard fitment of the integrated Carminat TomTom satellite navigation system. This has been developed exclusively with the manufacturer to achieve functionality and a competitive price.

The 5.8-inch colour screen is integrated into the dashboard and has the option of a 3D bird’s-eye view, or 2D road map display, with manual and automatic zoom functions. The system has traffic information, alternative routes, speed camera locations, speed limits, points of interest and a range of customisable functions.

Maps are stored on an SD card which can be linked via a computer to the internet to update. Navigation instructions come through the car’s speakers, which can be adjusted by steering wheel-mounted controls.

The screen itself doubles up as a central multimedia display, including the automatic display of data and information concerning the radio, telephone address books (when combined with Bluetooth), and MP3 player music playlists.

The dashboard has a central digital screen, a TFT (Thin Film Transistor) display. As used for computer screens, this provides a high resolution colour display. The latest information about the car – such as vehicle speed, cruise control and speed limiter status, door-open alert and tyre pressure warnings and even the view from the rear parking camera – can be transmitted to this screen, so it’s a good idea, however we’re not keen on the central position in the dash. This is in a similar position to the Prius and it means you have to take your eyes away from the road to consult the instruments.

The new Grand Scénic is Renault’s first production car to feature a reversing camera system – a first in its class. A nice design touch is that the front and rear parking proximity sensors are neatly integrated into the bumpers.

This model comes with an electronic handbrake. Yes, this represents progress, as well as freeing up space for the central sliding storage unit and the TomTom sat nav controls, but we’re still not wild about electronic handbrakes.

Our testers felt that a more prominent clock would have been useful, as the one on the sat nav is quite small, and the steering wheel controls for the stereo, being hidden behind the wheel, are not the most user-friendly in the business.

Some other feedback from our testers was that the dashboard has the cruise control easily accessible to the driver, but a switch for the speed limiter is on the passenger side of the gearchange. It also seems to take a while to find how to display some items that you might want in the central information screen, such as engine temperature.

In terms of equipment, even the entry-level Extreme models come well equipped with air-con, MP3 connection and plenty of airbags. Features such as the electronic parking brake are added with Expression models.

To get sat nav, alloy wheels, a keyless entry system and Bluetooth, you need to go for the Dynamique spec. Larger 17 or 18-inch alloy wheels can be specified if desired.

Although the car feels light, safety of the Grand Scénic is also a strong point, so drivers should feel reassured that the human contents of their car should be safe and secure. Safety standards match those set by the new Mégane, which has been credited with the joint highest-ever score in Euro NCAP crash testing. The Grand Scénic has scored five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, with an excellent 91% rating for overall protection.

The Grand Scénic comes with ABS with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), Brake Assist and ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) with CSV understeer control.

Historically, Renault doesn’t have a great reliability record. The company says that this is changing; time will tell.

Summary

The Grand Scénic offers comfort, ease of use and good cabin space, all at a reasonable price.

Although the 1.4 TCe 130 petrol engine is acknowledged to be good in terms of performance and economy in relation to its small size, a diesel will have better torque and the emissions of the new, larger 2.0 dCi 160 FAP are similar at 173 g/km CO2. And if you want to be super-low emission, remember that the 1.5 dCi 106 emits just 135 g/km CO2. This will definitely be more economical than the 1.4 TCe 130 petrol. But factor in the prices between petrol and diesel; £18,425 for the Dynamique TomTom TCe 130 compared to £21,388 for the Dynamique TomTom dCi 160 FAP.

The 1.4 TCe 130 petrol is cheaper, it’s light and easy to drive around town, and of course with seven seats in a small car it’s got great packaging. So it looks like the car is fit for purpose.

However it has to be a matter of taste as to whether you want a car that feels light – if so, go for the Renault – or if you want more driver appeal in your compact MPV, in which case you need to consider a Ford S-Max – and you may even prefer the way it looks.

Fuel economy extra urban: 47.9 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 28.5 mpg
CO2 emissions: 168 g/km
Green rating: VED band H – £175
Weight: 1430 Kg
Company car tax liability (2009/10): 22%
Price: £18,425 (From £16,133 – £25,067)
Insurance group: 18E
Power: 130 bhp
Max speed: 121 mph
0-62 mph: 11.5 seconds

Keywords: Renault Grand Scénic Dynamique TomTom TCe 130, compact MPV, 1.4-litre, 168 g/km CO2, 38.2 mpg, Turbo Control efficiency