Parkers overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 2.5

UK Avantime customers had a choice of two engines, both of which offered decent performance. The 165bhp 2.0-litre turbo sprints from 0-60mph in 9.6 seconds, whether fitted with the six-speed manual gearbox or the four-speed automatic. The reason for them being evenly matched is largely down to the long-throw manual gearchange which doesn't like to be rushed.

The 2.0-litre engine produces 184lb-ft of torque, and seems reasonably responsive. The 3.0-litre V6 produces 210bhp and 207lb-ft of torque. Both manual and automatic are capable of reaching 60mph from rest in less than nine seconds. No diesel versions were offered in the UK, although a 2.2-litre and 3.0 V6 diesel were sold in mainland Europe.

Although marketed as a practical grand tourer, the Avantime doesn't really excel at travelling. Show any attempt at trying to attack corners and the front tyres lose grip and the nose begins to run wide. The Avantime's people-carrier underpinnings come to the fore, despite Renault's commitment to make it 30% stiffer than the Espace. The large windows rattle over bumps and the ride becomes fidgety.

The Avantime is better suited to taking things easy on A-roads and motorways.