Renault Scenic review
The Renault Scenic is a stylish five-seat MPV that offers a degree of practicality and low running costs
The Renault Scenic was one of the first mini-MPVs, and its combination of versatile people carrier design and compact hatch dimensions opened the door on a succession of family-friendly models.
The Scenic was launched back in 1996 as a spin-off from the Megane, but today the third-generation is a model in its own right, and it still cuts it as a family friendly people carrier to rival the likes of the Ford C-MAX, Citroen C4 Picasso and Kia Carens.
The Scenic range has also expanded to include two alternative versions. If you want seven seats, there’s the Grand Scenic, while the Scenic XMOD is a five-seat model that gains rugged SUV-style looks, all weather tyres and an advanced traction control system that has three driving modes for light off-road work.
Engines comprise a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines - the 130bhp 1.6-litre dCi is one of the cleanest engines of its kind on the market and is cheap to run, too. There’s also a Scenic 1.5 dCi diesel with 110bhp - available with an automatic gearbox - as well as 1.2-litre TCe turbocharged petrol engine coming in two states of tune – 115bhp and 130bhp.
The Renault Scenic offers a generous amount of equipment and accessories, including cruise control, air-conditioning and electric windows as standard across Expression and Dynamique TomTom editions.
Our choice: Scenic XMOD Dynamique TomTom ENERGY dCi 130 Start&Stop
Engines, performance and drive
The Renault Scenic offers great visibility thanks to its high driving position, and the new XMOD versions provide you with a slightly better view of the road thanks to a 30mm increase in ride height.
The Renault Scenic is quite similar to the Renault Megane in that it offers decent handling and a smooth ride - that's because both share similar components and suspension. In corners, the Renault Scenic isn't as composed as the Volkswagen Touran - there's lots of grip but body control isn't that great and you'll experience a high degree of lean. Cornering is never going to be a key selling point for an MPV, so this isn't really a major point of concern.
The 109bhp 1.6-litre VVT petrol engine isn't nearly as efficient as the diesels and it feels quite underpowered. The star of the show is the 1.6 ENERGY dCi diesel, which offers a great balance of performance and efficiency - it manages to return 64.2mpg and emits just 114g/km of CO2.
XMOD models get Renault's Grip Xtend system, which allows you to tailor the traction control to suit the terrain. There are three settings: Road, Loose Ground and Expert. Loose Ground only works at speeds below 25mph, after which the Road setting cuts back in.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The cheapest option in the engine range is the 1.6 VVT 110 petrol, but it isn't all that economical, returning 36.7mpg and emitting 178g/km of CO2. The 1.2 TCe 115 turbo petrol is a bit better thanks to standard stop-start - it manages 46.3mpg and emits 140g/km of CO2.
You'd be better off with one of the diesels, preferably the ENERGY 1.5 dCi 110 fitted with stop-start technology. This returns 68.9mpg and emits only 105g/km of CO2. The ENERGY 1.6 dCi 130 is also quite frugal, it’s Euro 6 emissions compliant, and manages 64.2mpg and a respectable 114g/km of CO2.
Spare parts shouldn't be hard to come by due to the popularity of the Renault Scenic, while insurance and servicing should be relatively cheap thanks to Renault's 4+ offer which includes a warranty, servicing and roadside assistance, as well as finance.
Interior, design and technology
It's very difficult to make an MPV visually appealing but a 2013 update saw the Renault Scenic gain a new Clio-style grille, with a large Renault badge taking centre stage. It's a far sharper look than before, but it's still not as distinctive as a Citroen C4 Picasso.
The new, rugged XMOD version of the Renault Scenic adds 30mm to the ride height, black plastic cladding to the wheelarches, doors and bumpers, plus well as silver skid plates to the front and rear. Visually, it certainly offers more than the dull Volkswagen Touran.
Inside the Renault Scenic, you'll find a centrally-mounted instrument cluster with a clear TFT display. Meanwhile, TomTom models include a sat-nav screen. It's just a shame that the Renault Scenic's cheap and hard plastics mean the Citroen C4 Picasso edges it slightly in terms of interior quality.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
As you'd expect from an MPV, this is where the Renault Scenic excels. With all five seats in place, boot space is 522 litres but with the back seats removed this expands to a massive 1,837 litres.
The Renault Scenic's boot opening isn't as wide as you'll find with the Citroen C4 Picasso, but there's still a flat load lip, which makes loading bulky items that little bit easier. However, the XMOD’s slightly taller ride height means the lip is 30mm higher than the standard car’s.
There's lots of handy storage space in the Renault Scenic, including underfloor compartments in the front and rear, deep door bins, and storage trays beneath the front seats.
The back seats slide back and forth to prioritise either passenger legroom or the amount of space on offer in the boot. You can even take the back seats out completely if you really need all that space. Meanwhile, the seven-seater Renault Grand Scenic is available for those wanting even greater practicality.
Reliability and Safety
After finishing fourth in the 2013 Driver Power Survey, the Renault Scenic plummeted 49 places to 53rd in 2014. However, it was the second highest placed people carrier, and the best placed compact MPV in the survey. Owners were satisfied with its practicality and comfort, but its build quality, performance and handling all took a pasting.
The latest Renault Scenic hasn't been tested by Euro NCAP, but previous generations have fared well, so you can expect this car to be much the same. The larger, seven-seat Renault Grand Scenic has been tested and it received the full five stars, with 91 per cent for adult occupant protection - that's another fine performance from Renault.
Renault as a manufacturer climbed six places to finish 21st out of 32 in our manufacturers rankings. Meanwhile, there have been no major recalls or problems reported for the Scenic so far.
The Renault Scenic comes fitted with electronic stability control (ESP), ISOFIX child seat anchor points and six airbags as standard.