There is nothing more cheerful on a miserable night than a car that positively lights up at your presence.

Approach the new Renault Scénic in the dark and sidelights automatically switch on and puddle lights illuminate the area under the large door mirrors. A touch of the door handle and keyless entry automatically unlocks the doors.

Small things in themselves maybe, but sometimes the combination of a mass of elegant details combine to produce something just a little special.

Just like the fourth generation Scénic, which is a sportier, sexier and altogether superior vehicle to its practical but less stylish predecessors.

Some of the new distinctive style is down to the fitting of whopping great 20-inch wheels and a wider track front and rear, which combine to make the roofline appear lower.

Dynamic front end styling is set off with a steeply-raked panoramic windscreen and the test model came with a panoramic glass roof which makes for an even brighter interior.

Priced from about £21,500, there is no shortage of choice, with two petrol and three diesel engines available, six-speed manual and six- or seven-speed automatic transmissions, five- and seven-seat versions and a choice of four trim levels.

Now I confess I am a Scénic fan, as my own car is a venerable, 15-year-old example of the first generation that was arguably the world’s first compact multi-purpose vehicle.

With more than 6.5 million sold since the first Scénic took to the road in 1996, the latest model shares all the comfort, versatility and practicality of the original – individually adjustable, folding rear seats and a whopping boot – but where the real advances have been made are in the technology packed inside.

Now the vehicle is an altogether quieter, more comfortable and effortless long-distance cruiser and comes equipped with everything from a colour, jet fighter-style head-up display, an 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen display on the dashboard, BOSE seven-speaker sound system and that panoramic sunroof.

Renault’s ‘multi-sense system’ allows you to set up the car as you like, by selecting one of five modes to alter the driving set-up, including the accelerator pedal and engine response, engine sound and steering weight.

The car, which is built in northern France, also comes with a five-star Euro NCAP score and a battery of safety systems to match that top rating, including a standard emergency braking system that can detect pedestrians and automatically brake the car if someone strays in front.

Other systems available include adaptive cruise control, full LED headlights, lane departure warning, automatic hands-free parking, blind spot warning, safe distance warning, rear parking camera and live traffic alerts.

The seats can now be folded to create a completely flat floor at the touch of a button in the boot, or cleverly from the driver’s seat by using the R-LINK 2 multimedia system in the dashboard.

The car is also the only vehicle in its class to boast a large, sliding centre console with 13 litres of storage space, including a lit storage area protected by a sliding cover, plus an integrated armrest, underneath which are housed two USB ports and an audio jack socket.  The rear is equipped in the same way with two rear USBs, a 12-volt power supply and a dedicated storage compartment.

The ‘multi-sense system’ mentioned earlier even gives you the option of changing the cabin lighting with a choice of five colours – sepia, red, blue, purple and green.

So the Scénic is a little ray of sunshine – even in the dark.


Auto facts

Model: Renault Scénic Dynamique S Nav dCi 110

Price: £25,445

Insurance group: 11 (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 72.4mpg

Top speed: 114mph

Length: 440.6cm/173.5in

Width: 186.6cm/73.5in

Luggage capacity: 17.8 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 11.4 gallons/52 litres

CO2 emissions: 100g/km

Warranty: Four years/100,000 miles