Car Review: Renault - Scenic  Series (4 stars)

The Renault Scenic continues to be the default choice for families looking for a decent MPV.

Renault used to be the centre of the world as far as MPVs were concerned - the Alpha and the Omega, the Espace and the Scenic. It invented the idea, for goodness' sake, but the competition showed no respect and only went and built cars that were better. Renault took the issue by the horns, though, and countered with cars it thought were even better.

Which is how we end up with a leaner, sleeker looking Scenic. An effort has been made to shift the car a little further upmarket, with nice slushy plastics and about a billion cubbyholes for every conceivable knick and knack you might have cause to leave in the car.

Not only has the car been made a little plusher, but the drive has been improved too - the Scenic feels very assured on the move, resisting the usual body roll you get with these taller cars. It's not a driver's car, but it's far perkier than the original model. The downside of the flat ride is a suspension that's slightly too firm, occasionally intruding into the cabin.

That said, the interior of the Scenic is quite well insulated from outside noise, making long journeys much more pleasant. The quality of the interior, despite Renault's efforts, is still occasionally patchy - there are areas where the nice materials have been cut back and the Scenic actually feels a little flimsy. Practical-minded buyers will be put off by the fact that the Renault doesn't offer fold-flat seats, which is a big issue in this sector.

The Scenic is as spacious as ever, though, providing plenty of room for a family of five to drive in comfort. There are storage areas and cubbyholes throughout the cabin that show the thought Renault has put into the design and conception of the car. Potential owners might be put off by the questionable reliability record of the French marque though.

There are a range of petrol and diesel engines available for the Scenic, which offer respectable pace, although the entry units don't always feel comfortable on the move. Our pick of the engines is the 1.9-litre diesel unit in the middle of the range which puts out a useful 128bhp. It provides a nice balance between a decent turn of speed and economy and makes the Scenic a good buy.

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