It's the car that started the compact MPV revolution! When Renault took the wraps off the original Mégane Scenic nearly 13 years ago, it turned the family car market on its head. The innovative model used the clever cabin packaging found on the firm’s larger Espace people carrier, and squeezed it into a high-rise, hatchback-sized platform.
Now, the all-new third generation aims to continue the successful formula. However, at a first glance it appears a little disappointing. Compared to its bold rivals, the Scenic’s exterior is relatively bland. The large headlamps, faired-in nose and tall tail-lights are neat touches, but the rest of the design lacks the flair you would normally associate with Renault.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Renault Scenic
Still, it’s what’s inside that counts in this test – and the Renault doesn’t disappoint. As you would expect, the cabin is spacious, with occupants in the rear treated to plenty of leg and headroom. As with the Citroen, there are three individual back seats which slide backwards and forwards, or can be taken out completely.
Swing open the large tailgate and you’ll find a healthy 437 litres of carrying capacity, which increases to 522 litres with the chairs pushed forward or up to 1,637 litres after you’ve folded the rear bench flat.
Elsewhere, there are loads of stowage cubbies, including lidded compartments hidden in the footwells and a sliding tray beneath the front passenger seat. In all, the Renault’s interior offers an incredible 86 litres of storage.
Look closer and you’ll spot further family friendly touches, such as a second rear view mirror for keeping an eye on children travelling in the back. Better still, the Scenic’s cabin feels the classiest here, thanks to decent-quality materials and
solid build. Only the cheap-looking digital instruments mounted in the centre of the dashboard spoil the ambience.
The Renault was left trailing at the test track, as its 103bhp 1.5-litre diesel is the least powerful engine . However, with a healthy 240Nm of torque, the Scenic delivers strong real-world urge.
On the road, its competent and composed chassis impresses. While the Scenic isn’t very involving, it benefits from direct and accurate steering, good grip and strong body control. It can’t match the SEAT for fun or the Citroen for comfort, but strikes a fine balance between the two.
And then there’s the price. Our superbly equipped Dynamique is the cheapest car here, at £17,695. So, has the five-seat Scenic done enough to match its bigger seven-seater brother and take the top prize?
Chart position: 1
WHY: Original Scenic invented the compact SUV class. Third generation aims to be best yet.
* Price: £17,695
* Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 106bhp
* 0-60mph: 13.6 seconds
* Claimed economy: 57.6mpg
* Claimed CO2: 134g/km
* Annual tax: £120