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It's an extra Grand!

Byline: By Mike Torpey

Versatility is the name of the game in the quest for the ultimate family car. It's something Renault mastered with the original Scenic ( and in the Grand, the French manufacturer has an even more practical and elegant contender.

An extra pounds 1,000 sees buyers benefit from a stretching process that provides a third row of two extra individual seats that fold flat into the floor.

Not that the Grand is alone in offering such practicality, it just completes it in a different way. For instance even with all seven seats in place there's 200 litres of luggage space ( or in simple terms it's the largest volume in its class.

On the other hand, even with the middle row slid forward there's not really room for more than a couple of youngsters. Trying telling kids though that they would be more comfortable closer to the front. And to be fair though, this rearmost pair isn't designed with long journeys in mind. Fold them into the floor ( a process that couldn't be simpler ( and there's acres of space for luggage.

In range-topping Privilege versions the Grand literally welcomes you with open doors because there's no key needed.

Merely having a clever credit card sized piece of plastic in your pocket or handbag activates the locking mechanism leaving you to simply pull on the door handle, hop inside and start the engine at a touch of a button. Walk away from the car and the system operates in reverse.

With four trim levels and wide range of engines, including three diesels, and prices from pounds 14,770 the Grand Scenic is a fine long distance runner. I took the test model, with its powerful yet economic 130bhp common rail diesel powerplant, on a marathon trip that took in five different motorways.

It is a terrific car for this type of journey with its high driving position ensuring a superior all-round view, some serious kick, an easy six-speed manual gearbox while returning around 45 miles per gallon.

Lights and wipers switch themselves on and off automatically, column mounted audio controls, cruise control and tyre pressure monitors are all fitted and Privilege trim also ensures a huge amount of kit too.

That means everything from front and rear underfloor storage, a sliding centre unit and trays under the front seats to aviation-style tables in the rear, driver's sunglasses holder, reading lights and a retractable luggage bay cover.

It's the little things that can really make the difference, none more so than a handbrake that automatically releases when you move off, making things effortless if you're stuck in an uphill queue or at lights.

Facts and figures

Make: Renault

Model: Grand Scenic Privilege 1.9 dCi 130 FAP

Price: pounds 20,020

Mechanical: 130bhp, 1,870cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6 speed manual gearbox

Max speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 10 seconds

Combined mpg: 47.1

Insurance group: 8

CO2 emissions: 159g/km

BiK rating: 18%

Warranty: 3 years/ 60,000 miles; 3 years paint; 12 years anti-rust
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 9, 2005
Words:508
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