So why should Nissan, the French firm's alliance partner, bother to join the growing number of brands offering 'me too' versions of the pacesetting original?
Talk to executives at the Japanese company and the answer is 'Why not?'. As the fourth best-selling vehicle of its kind in the UK, the Almera Tino has turned out to be a nice little earner since its launch in 2000.
To be fair, the design team at Nissan had the Tino on the drawing boards long before their management decided to join forces with Renault. Like others in the industry, they had been keen to roll out a rival to the Scenic, and in the wake of the alliance, product planners could still find no commercial reason to kill the project.
The rest, as they say, is history, and though it looks destined to trail the market leaders, the Tino commands relatively high ranking on the list of alternatives. Indeed, some studious realignment moves in the last few months have underlined the high-value platform on which the model is sold.
The Tino received a mild facelift, first revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and among the range of additional features included, the 2.2-litre diesel engine received a common rail makeover and welcome power upgrade.
The engine is now badged dCi, like its Renault counterparts, although this one is all Nissan rather than a unit shared with its French partners.
Is the car good value? To find out, we're taking a closer look and an SVE – the top-spec version – has joined the Fleet News long-term test fleet. With a 2.2-litre, 134bhp common rail turbodiesel under the bonnet, along with a six-speed gearbox, it is the most powerful car in the sector until the top Ford Focus C-MAX arrives next month.
That's only the start of a list of equipment that comes as standard. Sitting on 16-inch alloy wheels, the ultimate Tino is an automotive Christmas tree loaded with DVD satellite navigation operating via a seven-inch centre display, rear view camera designed to take the stress out of reversing manoeuvres, climate control, electric tilt/slide sunroof, on-board computer, three folding, reclining and removable rear seats – the list seems endless.
It is possible to add options, but it's hard to think what else the car needs.
Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% tax-payer): £72.40 per month