Renault Grand Scenic Exp. dCi

Company drivers and environmentalists take note. The UK's greenest new car is Renault's Grand Scenic!

Renault's latest Grand Scenic is certainly green, with CO2 emissions of only 144g/km. However, if you rarely travel with more than one passenger, a smaller car will be better for the planet. If you need the versatility of a people carrier and aren't too worried about performance, though, the new base Grand Scenic is a top-value package.

Company drivers and environmentalists take note. The UK's greenest new car is Renault's Grand Scenic! Okay, so this refers solely to the model's low CO2 emissions, and then only if all seven seats are full. But the claim is still important.

Why? Well, if you run a company vehicle, the more of the gas it puts out, the more you'll end up having to pay in tax. Secondly, the Grand Scenic proves that we don't all have to drive tiny two-seaters in order to reduce pollution.

We tried Renault's entry-level seven-seater. Emissions of 114g/km mean it discharges only 20.5g/km of CO2 per occupant when every chair is in use. This makes Smart's ForTwo look wasteful at 56.5g/km per person, while even Toyota's hybrid Prius is bettered.

So can the French newcomer save the planet without demanding any motoring sacrifices? Power comes from a 1.5-litre diesel engine that's better suited to the Clio supermini, so it's no surprise that rapid acceleration isn't this car's forte. In everyday driving, the unit has to be pushed hard to keep up with traffic. The low-down surge evident with most modern oil-burners is entirely absent, forcing the driver to make good use of the six-speed manual gearbox.

In other respects, the driving experience does not disappoint. The handling is up to the standard of most family hatchbacks, and the ride is comfortable around town and at motorway speeds.

The entry-level variant offers combined economy of 52.3mpg - which is 5.2mpg more than the 130bhp 1.9-litre dCi. What's more, the lower-powered version sits in insurance group five - three below its faster diesel sibling.

Inside, the cabin is as ergonomically sound as any other model in the line-up. At £17,320 in Expression trim, the 106bhp variant is keenly priced, too - Vauxhall's cheapest Euro IV-compliant diesel Zafira comes in at £17,395.

So the latest Grand Scenic is good value for money and doesn't cost a lot to run. Only a lack of straight-line performance detracts from the package.

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