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New Grand Scenic is perfect people carrier 

THERE has been lots of competition for compact MPV sales since Renault invented the sector back in 1996.

And with 6.5 million Scenic models sold since then the French manufacturer is going all out to keep at the forefront.

Latest arrival is the fourth-generation Scenic and it has raised the bar considerably in this sector.

The all-new Scenic and Grand Scenic went on the road in the UK in late December and I’ve just enjoyed a drive in the seven-seater Grand.

It’s easily the most stylish Scenic to date with its sporty stance – 20-inch wheels across the range – and is packed with quality features.

Priced from £21,445, there are the usual four Renault trim levels – Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav.

Scenic brings a raft of safety features and hi-tech unique to this sector.

Active emergency braking system with pedestrian detection is standard and entry-level models also get lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, cruise control and speed limiter.

Other standard features on Expression+ include auto high/low beam headlamps, electronic parking brake, LED daytime running lights, roof rails (Grand Scenic), automatic dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, electrically adjustable heated and folding door mirrors, adjustable steering column, height adjustable driver seat, leather steering wheel, DAB radio with fingertip controls and an AUX input with Bluetooth® connectivity and a seven-inch touchscreen.

My test model was a Dynamique S Nav dCi 130 and you get even more gadgets and goodies with this version

I loved the colour – sky blue with diamond black roof – of what is a super stylish seven-seater that offers lots of versatility.

The Grand Scenic is at the top of its class for storage – up to twice as much as its competitors – with a huge 596-litres boot with the rearmost two seats down.

All rear seats can be folded up and down easily with a switch inside the boot.

But on this model you can also fold them by the touch of a finger – using the 8.7-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash via the R-Link 2 multimedia system.

And there was no shortage of interior comfort features, including a terrific sliding centre console with 13 litres of storage with four USB ports and AUX input shared between front and rear passengers.

There’s also a six-speaker Arkamys 3D sound system and the satnav provides live traffic updates and Western European mapping.

Backseat passengers don’t miss out either with rear-mounted aviation-style tables on front seats, LED reading lights, sunblinds and cupholders.

The high-quality interior was nice and bright thanks to its panoramic fixed-glass sunroof.

And I discovered the huge electric sunroof clicked back and forward easily – with rapid open and shut demands coming from my three-year-old grandson Cooper in the rear.

The Grand Scenic was a smooth performer as it moved through the six-speed manual gearbox.

The 1.6-litre 130PS diesel engine was never too noisy and it wasn’t long before Cooper’s baby brother Pacey was enjoying a snooze alongside him.

It handled well in town as well as out on the motorway and a rear camera assisted parking manoeuvres.

With a zero to 62mph time of 11.4 seconds it pulled away smartly and capable of 118mph, was never short of power.

All-round handling and ride comfort for an MPV were excellent and the heads-up display is another useful driver’s aid.

There are five driving modes on this model and you also get hands free walkaway lock and welcome function.

It also scored high marks on fuel economy with a claimed combined figure of 61.4mpg.

The Grand Scenic test model’s price is £28,605 and it takes the compact MPV range to a much higher level with its looks, high-quality features and most importantly, travelling confort.