Renault Scenic (2003-2009) review
As an all-rounder the Scenic and, in particular, the Grand Scenic are hard to beat. Either makes a cracking compact MPV with few flaws.
Driving Diesels are a popular option with Scenic buyers, so it's a good job the 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre dCi diesels are more than up to scratch. Only the 1.9-litre dCi is ageing now. The 2.0 dCi in particular is impressive - smooth and refined, it's punchy and doesn't feel strained under acceleration. All models have a dash-mounted gearshift, and the five- and six-speed shifts help make progress effortless, while motorway cruising is a relaxing experience. Under braking though, the Renault isn't as composed, and the pedal is short on feel. There isn't enough feedback through the heavily assisted electronic power steering, and kickback is evident though the column over uneven roads. Nevertheless, it's safe, stable and comfortable. It doesn't quite ride with class-leading panache, though the cushioned feel does iron out imperfections well. The Scenic is also quiet at low speeds, the tall windows aid visibility and it's light and easy to drive.
Marketplace Over a decade on from its launch, and the Scenic is still one of the most popular compact MPVs on sale. The second-generation model was given a subtle facelift in 2006, with a revised grille, bumper, headlamps and LED-equipped tail-lights being the most notable changes. It continues to look great, proving elegant and handsome. If you need seven seats, go for the longer-wheelbase Grand Scenic; the cheaper Scenic we're looking at here has five, and competes with the Citroen C4 Picasso, Ford C-Max and SEAT Altea XL. It's happiest in 1.5 dCi, 1.9 dCi or 2.0 dCi guise, though 1.4, 1.6 and 2.0 petrol engines are also available, within a bulging range of trims.
Owning The Scenic is light and roomy, though lighter finishes seem to mark too easily. Quality doesn't seem up to standard in certain places, but there is no arguing with the practicality. Controls are all logically laid out and easy to use, as is the electronic handbrake, while the central storage bin is cavernous. Underfloor stowage compartments feature front and rear, while there are also side window blinds, tray tables and three separate sliding seats. However, passenger space isn't quite as ample as rivals, while the seats don't fold flat; this isn't very tidy and eats into boot space. If you want more space, go for the larger seven-seat Grand Scenic - it has a longer wheelbase. Be aware that the Scenic's immense popularity has harmed residuals, though; a figure of less than 35 per cent is poor. And while most models have lengthy service intervals, some of the diesels trim this to a short 12,000 miles. At least fuel economy isn't bad - even our hard-driven 2.0 dCi achieved 38.9mpg, though this is still 10mpg sort of Renault's claims.