MOTHER KNOWS BEST?

Will a week­end with a con­vinc­ing MPV make this petrol­head mum change her pro-coupe mind­set?

Torque (Singapore) - - PORSCHE SPECIAL - LYNN TAN

IT was a week­end like any other, with the usual en­rich­ment classes, fam­ily out­ings and er­rands. What’s dif­fer­ent was that I had a Re­nault Grand Scenic test car for the week­end.

If you’re a reg­u­lar reader of this col­umn, you would al­ready know how I feel about MPVs.

De­spite the best ef­forts by de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers to make them look sportier and drive more like a car than a van, climb­ing into one in­vari­ably makes me feel like I am driv­ing Mama’s Per­sonal Van.

How­ever, ev­ery car de­serves a fair chance, and as a motoring

writer, I re­minded my­self to cast my per­sonal pref­er­ences aside and ob­jec­tively eval­u­ate whether the Grand Scenic, or a mod­ern Euro­pean MPV in gen­eral, re­ally makes light work of heavy-duty fam­ily tasks. We may not fit into the typ­i­cal “two adult–two child” de­mo­graphic, but I think the 250-300 kilo­me­tres we av­er­age each week­end and the amount of jiu-jitsu gear, swim­ming kit, books, files and other stuff that we load into our car can def­i­nitely ri­val that of a small army, which makes it an ad­e­quate chal­lenge for any MPV. Over the week­end, the Grand Scenic proved it­self to be quite the handy fam­ily helper. Its 14 stor­age com­part­ments in­clude four un­der the floor, which were re­ally use­ful for stash­ing ex­tra tis­sues and wet wipes, and hid­ing that chil­dren’s con­tra­band – the tablet when it was not of­fi­cially tablet time. There were more than enough cuphold­ers for all our mugs and wa­ter bot­tles, while the draw­ers un­der the front pas­sen­ger seat and be­hind the slid­ing cen­tre arm­rest took care of all the knick-knacks. My daugh­ter en­joyed the gen­er­ous head­room and legroom tremen­dously, and she put the sec­ond-row tray ta­bles to good use – read­ing, draw­ing and snack­ing. We even man­aged to fit an ex­tended fam­ily of five com­fort­ably into the first two rows, plus two trol­ley loads of gro­ceries in the rear with the third-row seats folded.

When it rained on our pic­nic, we sim­ply took it in­side the Grand Scenic. The one-touch con­trol for fold­ing the rear seats made it a breeze to col­lapse the sec­ond and third rows to cre­ate a flat “in­door” pic­nic sur­face. The large panoramic glass roof made us feel like we were still out­doors.

When it was movie time, all we had to do was plug a tablet into the USB port to con­nect it to the car’s 3D Arkamys sound sys­tem, bring the third-row seats back up, leave the sec­ond row folded like an ot­toman and, voila, we had our very own mo­bile theatre.

The 1.5-litre turbo-diesel en­gine felt com­pe­tent and there was no­tice­able less body roll than ex­pected. For me, the firm ride made for a more en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence as a driver, al­though the pas­sen­gers may beg to dif­fer.

In terms of styling, I con­sider the Grand Scenic to be the coupe of MPVs, be­cause of the sil­hou­ette created by its up­ward-slop­ing belt line and down­ward-slop­ing roof pro­file. Big wheels at­tract me ev­ery time, so I def­i­nitely loved the 20-inch al­loys, even if they weren’t also spe­cially de­signed to min­imise rolling re­sis­tance and en­hance fuel ef­fi­ciency.

Parts of the in­te­rior still felt slightly van-like, such as the up­right driv­ing po­si­tion and the rel­a­tively high-up lo­ca­tion of the gear­lever. The sim­plic­ity of the cabin de­sign and the easy-touse touch­screen for mul­ti­me­dia and nav­i­ga­tion won me over. But we know how detri­men­tal stilet­tos are to our backs and also their po­ten­tial trip­ping haz­ards. They’re called killer heels for a rea­son, yet women still fall head over heels with them and choose them over sen­si­ble shoes which are com­fort­able and prac­ti­cal. So, even though an ex­tremely fam­ily-friendly MPV such as the Re­nault Grand Scenic checks all the right boxes, I am still no closer to want­ing one.

In fact, now that my daugh­ter is seven and able to get in and out of the car in­de­pen­dently and buckle up, I see my­self go­ing back to my coupe ways. MOTHER MAY KNOW BEST, BUT THIS PAR­TIC­U­LAR MOTHER IS AN INCORRIGIBLE COUPE LOVER AT HEART.

This is a French fam­ily chalet par ex­cel­lence, but Lynn still prefers to drive a non­fam­ily coupe.

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