Renault Scenic

The comfortable and highly-practical Scenic is one of the best MPVs money can buy

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Complete with a new engine, a subtly different nose and enhanced spec, the refreshed Scenic remains one of the best compact MPVs money can buy. Why? Because it concentrates on giving families exactly what they want - a highly practical, user-friendly and clever interior in a car that, thanks to supple suspension, is both comfortable and refined. The 2.0 dCi 150 powerplant is great, but if your pockets aren't that deep it's worth bearing in mind that the Scenic range starts at £13,915, and includes a huge 73 models.

It's hard to believe that a decade ago, no one had ever heard the term compact MPV, and even tougher to accept that the Renault Scenic celebrates its 10th birthday this year.

Yet now, thanks to Renault's vision and originality, the sector is one of the UK's largest and most successful. Its rapid growth has put the marque under pressure, especially since seven- seaters started arriving on the scene.

The second-generation Scenic was launched in 2003 and spawned a seven-seat Grand variant, and to keep the model at the top of its game, the range has now been facelifted.

Chief update is the addition of a new flagship diesel engine, the 2.0-litre dCi 150 already fitted to the Mégane, Laguna and Espace. Perhaps more importantly, it's also the first oil-burning Scenic to be available with an automatic gearbox. The six-speed self-shifter commands a hefty £1,000 premium, although the price does include a particulate filter, too.

The common-rail unit itself is excellent - smooth, punchy and easily capable of coping with a full complement of passengers. Developing 340Nm at 2,000rpm, it delivers a 0-60mph time of 9.4 seconds, while a claimed combined economy figure of 48.7mpg is reassuring, too.

The new engine isn't cheap, though. It's only available in Dynamique trim and above, and prices start at £19,415, rising to £22,415 for the automatic Grand variant.

However, opting for the long-wheelbase model doesn't mean you have to have seven seats. In response to demand, the Grand can now be had as a five-seater, offering up to 1,960 litres of luggage room. But the Scenic's forte isn't so much space as versatility - few rivals are as thoughtfully designed and laid out inside.

The radical driving environment works surprisingly well, while the huge glass area and low window line (plus £450 Panoramic roof on our test car) let in masses of light. There are plenty of cubbies, plus separate opening tailgate glass and individual sliding and folding rear seats.

Renault has even developed Sleep Safe headrests in the back, which fold down to support young necks. It's this attention to detail as much as any new engines or transmissions that will keep the Scenic at the top of its game.

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