Renault fits its seven-seat Grand Scenic with a premium Bose hi-fi and more
Sound investment: Renault's seven-seat Grand Scenic packs a premium Bose hi-fi The Renault Grand Scenic Bose comes with the Head-up Display, which helps the driver to keep his speed in check without taking his eyes off the road. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

How does a multi-purpose vehicle from a French brand compete against a sea of sport utility vehicles from Germany and Japan?

Simple - with loads of features. That, in a line, is what the Renault Grand Scenic Bose does. Introduced two years after the latest Grand Scenic was launched, the car now comes with LED headlights and new 20-inch wheels.

It also has drive-mode selection. Called Multi-Sense, it is activated via a large multimedia screen and offers five driving modes, including Eco, which comes with a gentler throttle and milder air-conditioning.

Comfort and Neutral modes are the default choices for a fuss-free and sensible ride while Perso allows you to mix and match steering and powertrain characteristics from the other modes.

Family men can relive their boy-racer days in Sport mode. The steering tightens and both the engine and gearbox become more responsive to endow the seven-seater with a more exhilarating drive.

And this is where the Head-up Display comes in handy, helping daddy to keep the speed in check without taking his eyes off the road.

Front seats come with massage function. While no replacement for the Osim chair, this feature will go some way in making long road trips more comfortable.

The addition which gives the model its name is a Bose premium sound system, featuring 11 speakers, one subwoofer and a specially configured digital amplifier. It is on a par with the systems in some luxury models.

Another noteworthy upgrade is a self-parking system, which can handle diagonal, parallel and perpendicular parking. The driver still maintains control of the brake and throttle pedals though.

The car packs the same 1.5-litre turbodiesel and seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox as in the 2017 model. Still, the Grand Scenic Bose delivers a smooth and quiet ride even when the people mover is packed with seven adults.

Its third row, however, is still best reserved for petite individuals.

But the car is not short on storage capacity. There are no fewer than 13 storage spaces throughout the cabin.

A fuel economy of 7.2 litres/ 100km was achieved with a mix of highway and city driving. This is noticeably higher than Renault's stated 4 litres/100km, but the test-drive was done mostly with the Sport mode engaged.

Priced at about $124,000, the Grand Scenic Bose costs some $4,000 more than the capable Toyota Prius+ hybrid seven-seater. Even though the Japanese rival packs a bigger 1.8-litre engine, the Grand Scenic Bose boasts superior horsepower of 110bhp and an even more impressive torque of 260Nm.

The Renault attracts a higher road tax because of its diesel engine, but this is partially offset by the lower cost of diesel at the pumps.

The Toyota has a better reputation for reliability, while the Renault looks decidedly more stylish and packs more features. Which car to buy depends on what premium you place on the strengths of each.