The Grand Scenic is decent enough to drive; the diesel cars are the best
Looks fairly smart but stereo is too fiddly
Decent safety provision includes curtain airbags along the whole cabin and Isofix on the front seat
Sturdy cabin but Renault's mechanical reliability remains dubious
Spacious for occupants and luggage but not as versatile as it could be
Everything you'd want
Whichever engine you go for, the Grand Scenic has enough oomph for everyday chores; however, for extra punch go for the 128bhp 1.6 turbodiesel. The car's tall body stays nicely upright round corners and it feels well planted on the road. However, the car feels jittery at all speeds and you can hear clunks from the suspension when you go over urban potholes, although on the whole the cabin is quiet enough until it gets to 70mph on the motorway, when wind and road noise become noticeable. The steering feels a bit vague but it's light at low speeds and helps make the Grand Scenic easy to manoeuvre round town.
The Grand Scenic's tall, airy cabin looks pretty smart on the whole and there's lots of adjustment to help the driver get comfortable. However, rear visibility isn't great and the system that controls the radio and Bluetooth has poorly-marked controls and overly complicated menus.
You can just about fit five adults in the two rows of rear seats, provided those in the middle row move their seats forward to give those in the back enough legroom. The passenger in the central rear seat enjoys plenty of foot space as the floor here is completely flat (unlike some rivals'), but whether they'll be comfortable or not will depend on the size of the occupant: the seat's two seatbelt buckles don't leave an enormous amount of space in between, and adult passengers may find the buckles dig uncomfortably into their behinds. The same lack of space between the centre seat's buckles also means that some child seats won't fit between them either; the booster cushion we tried sat on top of both of the buckles, making them unuseable, though our Group 2/3 high-backed booster just about fitted. Still, everyone gets plenty of headroom, and the three same-size middle-row seats each slide and recline, too. With seven on board you'll need to be creative with your use of luggage space - there's a narrow, rectangular well behind the rearmost seats that will be off-limits to many pushchairs. Fold the rearmost seats down, though, and the boot is generous in size. The middle-row seat backs fold to increase the boot space but they don't go flat as in some more practical rivals; to make more space you'll need either to tumble the seats forward or, if you want to use every available inch behind the front seats, remove them completely, which is hard work.
The Grand Scenic includes several details designed to make family journeys a bit easier, including a child-view mirror so you can see what the kids are up to in the back, small, high-up pockets for knick-knacks on the back of the front seats, and a picnic table with drinks holders - though the tables in the model we tested sloped upwards, which meant that anything placed on top of them would have slid off, or at least out of reach, and a drinks bottle would be tipped forward in its holder too.
The single trim level - Dynamique TomTom - comes with alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers and of course, TomTom sat nav. You get Isofix on each of the three middle-row seats (each with a top-tether point), but they're not as easy to access as in some MPVs as they're positioned a little way behind the gaps in the upholstery that provide access, as well as being higher up from the seat base than in many other cars.
Traditionally, Renault doesn't do that well in reliability and customer satisfaction surveys, but in the 2012 JD Power survey the Scenic did okay, and a standard four-year warranty, including free servicing and roadside assistance, brings added peace of mind. As far as safety goes, every model includes stability control and curtain airbags for all the side windows.
Competitive manufacturer prices and some good dealer discounts make the Grand Scenic reasonable to buy, while efficient engines and a comprehensive four-year warranty package mean running costs are affordable too, although these have to be weighed against comparatively weak re-sale values.