Renault Scenic vs Citroen C4 Picasso vs Ford C-MAX
Renault hopes to breathe fresh life into the MPV class with its new Scenic. Can it see off the Citroen C4 Picasso and Ford C-MAX?
As with traditional saloons and estates, MPVs have come under increasing sales pressure from fashionable SUVs and crossovers. Five-seat models have been particularly hard hit, despite delivering a blend of unrivalled practicality and family hatch running costs.
However, people carrier pioneer Renault has kept the faith with this family-friendly format, and its all-new fourth generation Scenic aims to tempt buyers with its bold styling, upmarket interior and acres of space. As before, there’s a choice of standard five-seat or extended seven-seat models, but it’s the former we test here.
Yet Renault isn’t the only French firm with a desirable and daringly designed MPV on its books. The Citroen C4 Picasso is our current class favourite, thanks in no small part to its blend of style, brilliant packaging, refined driving dynamics and lengthy kit list.
Completing our trio of contenders is the Ford C-MAX. It’s been around for a while now, but a facelift last year has kept the car fresh, while its agile chassis and fine ride set the standard for driving dynamics. So which of these versatile vehicles takes the spoils?
|Model: Renault Scenic Dynamique S Nav 1.5 dCi 110|
|Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 108bhp|
|0-60mph: 12.3 seconds|
|Test economy: 45.1mpg/9.9mpl|
|Annual road tax: £0|
The Mk4 Renault Scenic is out to prove that crossovers aren’t the only fashionable family wagons. It has all the ingredients to succeed, as it mixes concept car looks, a classy cabin, impressive practicality and penny-pinching running costs. Here we test the £25,445 Dynamique S Nav 1.5 dCi 110.
Tester’s note: Early next year a Scenic Hybrid Assist will be introduced. Combining a small 10kW electric motor with our car’s 108bhp 1.5-litre diesel, the mild hybrid claims 92g/km and 80.7mpg
Citroen C4 Picasso
|Model: Citroen C4 Picasso 1.6 BlueHDi Flair|
|Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 118bhp|
|0-60mph: 10.9 seconds|
|Test economy: 49.6mpg/10.9mpl|
|Annual road tax: £0|
The Citroen C4 Picasso is our reigning MPV champ, with its design flair, efficient engines, roomy cabin and affordable prices. A facelift earlier this year has kept it fresh, but can it see off the new Scenic? We test the £25,110 1.6 BlueHDi diesel in top Flair spec – although the car in our pictures is a Feel.
Tester’s note: The Picasso scores on family-friendly details. Parents will love the three rear Isofix seat mounts in the rear, while the central dials allow kids to watch mum or dad’s speed.
|Model: Ford C-MAX 1.5 TDCi Titanium X|
|Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 118bhp|
|0-60mph: 11.1 seconds|
|Test economy: 43.4mpg/9.5mpl|
|Annual road tax: £20|
The Ford C-MAX has always been great to drive, and a facelift last year injected some much needed kerb appeal. It also offers decent practicality, while the £26,045 1.5 TDCi Titanium X PowerShift tested here mixes low running costs with a long list of kit.
Tester’s note: The Grand C-MAX carries a £1,470-£1,600 premium over the standard car. As well as a third row of seats, it gets sliding side doors. But it’s not as roomy as rival Grand models.
First place: Citroen C4 Picasso
If you’re looking for a family car that delivers space, style, comfort, low running costs and a brilliantly thought-out interior, the Picasso still reigns supreme. In 1.6-litre BlueHDi guise, it serves up a winning blend of performance and efficiency, while Flair trim offers luxury car kit. It’s also the most refined choice. Crucially, it feels like it’s been designed from the inside out with families in mind.
Second place: Renault Scenic
The new Scenic upholds Renault’s reputation for producing practical and desirable MPVs. It rivals the Citroen for style, while its interior is fractionally ahead for quality and upmarket appeal. It’s also spacious, well equipped and cheap to run. Yet it’s undermined by its inconsistent ride and the poorest refinement here, plus it can’t match the Picasso for family-friendly features
Third place: Ford C-MAX
Keen drivers should look no further than the fine-handling Ford. Take the wheel and its polished driving dynamics and smooth ride are in a different league. Plus, this is backed by a smooth and eager diesel and a slick box. Yet the focus here is on practicality, and this is where the C-MAX falters. Not only is it smaller inside, it also lacks many of the features that take the stress out of family motoring.
Other options for similar money
New: BMW 216d Sport
Price: £25,495Engine: 1.5-litre 3cyl, 114bhp
The first front-wheel-drive BMW retains the sharp dynamics of the brand’s traditional saloons, while the MPV body covers a roomy, beautifully finished interior. It’s not as well equipped as these cars, but oozes upmarket appeal.
Used: Mercedes E 300 Hybrid Estate
Price: £25,000Engine: 2.1-litre 4cyl, 204bhp
If space is your priority, the vast E-Class Estate is unrivalled. The E 300 diesel/electric hybrid matches our new models for efficiency, but delivers far more pace. Our budget secures a 2014 AMG-Line model with just 17,000 miles.
|Citroen C4 Picasso 1.6 BlueHDi Flair||Renault Scenic Dynamique S Nav 1.5 dCi 110||Ford C-MAX 1.5 TDCi Titanium X PowerShift|
|On the road price/total as tested||£25,110/£25,110||£25,445/£26,490||£26,045/£27,640|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)||£8,964/35.7%||N/A||£10,418/40.0%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£1,002/£2,004||£1,016/£2,031||£1,092/£2,183|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,276/£2,126||£1,403/£2,338||£1,458/£2,430|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||20/£774/A/£0||11/£538/A/£0||19/£731/B/£20|
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service||£400 (3yrs/35k)||£449 (3yrs/30k)||£340 (2yrs)|
|Engine||4cyl in-line/1,560cc||4cyl in-line/1,461cc||4cyl in-line/1,498cc|
|Peak power/revs||118/3,500 bhp/rpm||108/4,000 bhp/rpm||118/3,600 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque/revs||300/1,750 Nm/rpm||260/1,750 Nm/rpm||300/1,750 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||6-spd man/fwd||6-spd man/fwd||6-spd auto/fwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||55 litres/foam||52 litres/foam||53 litres/space saver|
|Boot capacity||537-630/1,851 litres||572/1,554 litres||432/1,684 litres|
|Turning circle||10.4 metres||11.2 metres||10.7 metres|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000)/1yr||4yrs (100,000)/4yrs||3yrs (60,000)/1yr|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||12,000 miles (1yr)/196||16,000 miles (1yr)/158||12,500 miles (1yr)/781|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||26th/18th||8th/1st||27th/27th|
|NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars||86/88/68/81/5 (2013)||90/82/67/59/5 (2016)||92/83/50/71/5 (2010)|
|0-60/30-70mph||10.9/10.5 secs||12.3/12.3 secs||11.1/11.7 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||4.0/6.3 secs||4.9/7.5 secs||4.5/6.4 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th||8.0/11.8 secs||10.8/14.2 secs||9.1/11.9 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||117mph/1,900rpm||114mph/2,000rpm||113mph/1,900rpm|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||49.6/10.9/600 miles||45.1/9.9/516 miles||43.4/9.5/506 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||153/100g/km/20%||168/100g/km/20%||174/109g/km/21%|
|Auto box/stability/cruise control/AEB*||£1,350/y/y/£900^^||£1,500/yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/yes/£200|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||Yes/£1,750/£1,750**||Yes/£1,250/£1,250**||Yes/£600/yes|
|Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go||£520/£750/yes||£545/£500^/yes||£525/yes/£450|