Why it's a great used buy
The Renault Grand Scenic is well equipped, including plenty of safety features, but Renault cars' heavy depreciation (not helped by the manufacturer's patchy reliability record) means they plummet in value the moment they leave the showroom – great news for second-hand buyers. For under £10,000 you can buy the latest-generation Grand Scenic, albeit before this summer's facelift.
What it's like to drive and use
The Renault Grand Scenic isn't quite as practical as most rivals, as there isn't a huge amount of rear legroom to go round and you have to remove the middle-row seats to benefit from the car's full load-carrying capacity; otherwise, you can only tumble the seat forward or fold down their backs. However, each of the middle-row seats slides and reclines to help all rear passengers get comfortable or adjust the bias of space between the middle-row and the boot. Although the centre middle-row seat is narrower than the other two, it's just about big enough for a slim child seat (or a slim pair of hips) so it is possible to get three child seats in a row. The rearmost seats fold up easily from under the boot floor but they're only really suitable children and petite adults, especially on long journeys. All Grand Scenics include underfloor storage behind the front seats, but Expression and higher trims have lots of additional handy features, including a child-view mirror, airplane-style fold-up tables and little pockets above these, ideal for children's knick-knacks.
Bear in mind that the Renault Grand Scenic isn't particularly engaging to drive, and it always feels a bit jittery, no matter how fast it's going. However, it feels well glued to the road and stays nicely upright round bends, which is good news for rear passengers who suffer from motion sickness.
1.9 dCi Expression
Typical price £9702 for '11/60 with 32,000 miles
The 1.9 dCi turbodiesel is the best all-rounder. It comes with either 118bhp or 128bhp and both versions remain quiet at speed, cope well with a full load and should deliver more than 45mpg. Expression trim is only one up from entry-level but includes air-con, four electric windows, a CD player, automatic headlights and wipers, a child-view mirror and a host of other useful features.
1.4 16v TCE Expression
Typical price £8389 for '11/60 with 32,000 miles
This 1.4 is turbocharged so it's more powerful than the 1.6 petrol, making it the better choice if you'll need your Grand Scenic to cope with the odd motorway journey with the family on board. 1.4s are hard to come by, however. Go for the more widely available 1.6 if you want even more of a bargain and don't need your Grand Scenic to get up to speed in too much of a hurry. Both these engines will manage almost 40mpg.
Safety info on these models
Euro NCAP rating Five stars, with 91% for adults and 76% for children
Rear airbags? Yes, for both rows of rear seats.
Isofix? On outer middle-row seats only
Front passenger airbag deactivation? Standard
Problems to watch out for
Renault's poor reliability record comes not from any major faults but from electrical gremlins and smaller niggles. In particular, there have been issues with the build quality of the glovebox, rear window blinds and the sunroof, while electric windows and door mirrors can be unreliable, and there are plenty of reports of faulty alarm sensors. Still, for less than £10,000 you can buy a car still with the balance of the manufacturer's warranty so many of these problems should get fixed for free.