Renault Grand Scenic 1.4 TCe 130 Dynamique: £18,595 OTR
Renault Grand Scenic 2.0 dCi 160 Privilege: £22,695 OTR
Banging in hot laps around the infamous Nurburgring in a Porsche 911 Carrera or blitzing Italy's Stelvio Pass onboard a Pagani Zonda are all very well. But back in the real world, what most people really want from their car is safe, efficient and comfortable family transport. Arguably the most finely optimised tool for getting that job done is an MPV, otherwise known as the humble people carrier.
Within the broader people carrier market it's probably the compact MPV that represents the sweet spot in terms of value, comfort and spaciousness. Renault, of course, has long been a trail blazer in MPVs and pretty much invented the compact variant, known in the industry vernacular as C-segment MPVs, in 1996 with the original Megane Scenic.
In 2003, Renault upped the ante with the Grand Scenic, a stretched version of the Megane-based MPV with a longer wheelbase, larger rear overhang and seating for seven. All told, Renault has flogged no less than 3.2 million Scenics. It's an extremely important model for the French manufacturer, in other words.
Earlier this year, Renault rolled out an all-new Megane and that means there's also a new Grand Scenic. With the latest model, Renault is aiming to lift its compact MPV game even further with more comfort, more space, better driving dynamics and an infotainment upgrade that leverages its new partnership with aftermarket navigation specialists TomTom.
For our first taste of the new Grand Scenic, Renault gave us access to a fleet of test cars in 2.0L diesel and 1.4L petrol trim. The latter engine is new to Renault and sports soft turbo charging designed to fill out the torque curve while keeping emissions and fuel consumption under tight control.
First impressions are of a more substantial, up market car inside and out, even if it's hardly a beautiful vehicle in conventional terms. Still, the premium vibe is probably just as well, what with prices starting well north of £15,000 and extending beyond £20,000. As a private purchase, the latest Grand Scenic is a significant investment.