RENAULT’S compact people carrier has established itself as a family favourite – a status underpinned by more than six million sales to date.

The French firm’s Scenic is the epitome of a high-rise, five-door hatchback offering more space and flexibility than a normal family hatch.

Renault claims to have invented the compact MPV segment in 1996 in a move that was, at the time, something of a gamble.

However, buyers quickly warmed to the Scenic and the latest fourth generation car retains the basic template that has proved so successful.

In addition, a welcome dash of premium car refinement and extra styling has been added to provide what Renault describes as a “more modern and sexier take” on the Scenic.

In a competitive ever-changing marketplace, there was a certain inevitability that rivals would catch up in some key areas, but many still struggle to match Renault’s flair at the design stage.

While too many people carriers have a rather square, boxy appearance, the Scenic boasts a streamlined well-sculpted look.

The distinctive design is characterised by first-in-class 20-inch wheels, which bring an element of panache to the latest version of the car.

The vehicle is available in two sizes, with a choice between the smaller five-seater and the seven-seat Grand Scenic, tested here.

Inside, the Scenic is refined and plush - surprisingly so for a vehicle that will have to withstand the rough and tumble of children.

This upmarket ambience in the cabin is typified by soft-touch plastics and easy-on-the-eye chrome-effect.

Of course, the Scenic’s primary function is to provide enough space for plenty of occupants - and the roomy cabin ticks that rather important box with consummate ease.

The raised seating positions combined with the high roofline lend the cabin an airy and light feeling.

The flexibility of the cabin is superb, with the rear seats splitting and folding with ease.

The car also offers record-breaking storage and boot space.

The seven-speaker sound system in the Scenic is first class, as is the R-Link connectivity system accessed via a 8.7-inch portrait display, which is easy-to-use and is the largest in this segment.

Meanwhile, the retractable full-colour head-up display makes it easier for the driver to see relevant information such as current speed and navigation instructions without the driver needing to take their eyes off the road.

With such a large amount of space, practicality and style on offer in the Scenic, you might think Renault would have taken its eye off the driving dynamics of the vehicle. Not so.

The steering and handling is accurate, while the ride quality if supple.

It might not provide any driving thrills, but it is quite a lively performer, with this 1.6-litre diesel engine being sufficiently punchy in most situations.

At launch, there was a choice of five engines – two Energy TCe turbocharged petrol options with capacities and power outputs of 1.2-litre/115hp (manual only) and 1.2-litre/130hp (manual only).

The turbodiesel alternatives are a 1.5-litre dCi 110 unit (manual or EDC), a 1.6-litre dCi 130 engine (manual only) or a 1.5-litre dCi 160 engine (EDC only). During a lengthy motorway trip, the fuel gauge dipped at a reassuringly slow pace, with the Scenic offering official fuel economy of more than 60mpg on the combined cycle.

Renault is offering four trim levels across a 36-strong UK version line-up and provides AEBS with pedestrian detection as standard across the range Built on the new Renault-Nissan Alliance ‘CMF’ platform in Douai, France, it is priced from £21,445, with this Dynamique version coming in at £28,445 on the road.