2012 Renault Scenic and Grand Scenic

There's seldom anything particularly exciting or glamorous about a minivan. But that doesn't mean their producers can't keep trying. Enter the new 2012 Renault Scenic, and its big brother, the Grand Scenic.

Being European MPVs as opposed to American minivans, the Scenic – and even the larger, seven-passenger Grand Scenic – are typically smaller than the big family-haulers we're used to on this side of the Atlantic. But with facelift Renault has just given the line, they're also considerably sleeker-looking than the vehicles we're used to seeing lined up outside the local elementary school.

That much comes down to the new lights and bumpers front and rear, elements that Renault has packaged with an upgraded interior and a raft of new engines and technologies that set the new Scenic range apart from the one it replaces. A pair of low-emission engines – a 115-horsepower, 1.2-liter turbo and 110-hp, 1.5-liter diesel – join a range of powertrains topped by a 140hp 2.0 mated to a CVT and a 160hp diesel paired with a six-speed manual.

The Scenic family is also the first to incorporate Renault's new lane-departure system and hill-start assist, with a special Bose model (similar to the one found in the Koleos) topping the spec sheet. The new Scenic debuts at the Brussels Motor Show this week before hitting showrooms in 40 countries around the world.