Car review: Renault Scenic

The new Scenic is an improvement over the previous model and highly practical, says Dr Tony Rimmer.

GPs are having a tough time at the moment. Not only is there great frustration with increasing regulation that threatens stable practice finances but also national and global political changes and are similarly unsettling.

This uncertainty means that, like most of the population, we have become more conservative in our purchasing habits. In response, car makers have been releasing some very interesting and excellent value products over recent months.

This is particularly true in the MPV sector where practicality is of primary importance. One such maker is Renault and they have just launched their latest version of the Scenic.

The new Scenic is the fourth generation of Renault’s compact MPV which has, since 1996, been setting the standard for roomy and family friendly cars with the exterior dimensions of a five-door hatchback. 

It is based on the floorpan of the new Megane and shares chassis design with the Nissan Qashqai and Renault’s own Kadjar crossover. The Scenic seats five in comfort and a seven seater version, the Grand Scenic, is also available for those with larger family needs.

What is available?

There are four trim levels available, from the baseline Expression+ model through to the top of the range Signature Nav model that has a leather interior, full LED headlights, electric seats and the bigger 8.7-inch touchscreen for the TomTom Satnav and infotainment system.

Power comes from a choice of two petrol and three diesel engines of varying power output and the gearbox can either be a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

In mid 2017, a Hybrid Assist version will be available. This clever tech incorporates a 10kW electric motor in the gearbox which aides the internal combustion engine and reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 8-10%.

Good-looking car

I spent a day sampling several different versions of the new Scenic, assessing all the new interior features and driving them on a variety of roads around the beautiful Cotswolds.

The first thing to note is how good looking the new car is. Renault has done a great job to make a very functional family vehicle look smart and stylish. The standard across-the-range 20" alloy wheels help, but the body itself has enough distinctive swoops and curves to turn heads.

The shape of the bigger Grand Scenic is not so gentle on the eye, but sometimes function wins over form.

The interior has an up-to-date and modern feel. The portrait-style infotainment screen is clear, easy to use and gives a premium feel to the dashboard.

Passengers have plenty of room to stretch out in the back and, to satisfy modern teenagers, two USB ports sit in the rear central console.

Storage space is impressive too. Hidden underfloor compartments and good sized door bins are just ready to hold the paraphernalia of modern family life. They are also great for storing sensitive clinical notes so that they are out of view in a locked car when out on visits.

The flat-floored boot is a really well proportioned space even when the rear seats slide to their rearmost position – another really useful feature.

How does it drive?

Family MPVs are not designed to be drivers’ cars and I have to say, the new Scenic is no exception. The electrically assisted steering is well weighted but a little inert. The chassis is well tuned to keep body roll under control and handling through the twisty bits is perfectly acceptable if not exciting.

What is a bit of a surprise, though, is the poor ride quality. I think Renault have made a serious cost-cutting mistake by only offering large 20-inch wheels on all models.

Unfortunately, performance is also a little compromised if you choose the smaller, less powerful engines. While driving the 1.5-litre turbodiesel with 108bhp I had to stir the manual gearbox quite a lot to keep up with normal traffic.

The more powerful 1.6-litre dCi 160 makes more sense, especially as it is linked to twin-clutch automatic gearbox and progress is much less frenetic and well suited to the stop/start progress of urban and city driving.

Direct competitors include the Citroen C4 Picasso, the Ford C-MAX and BMWs more classy 2 Series Active Tourer. The Scenic is the best looking of the bunch and will also be helped by Renault’s award winning sales and service standards.

So can I recommend this latest version of the Renault Scenic? Well it is a real improvement over the previous model and for the GP who needs a good-looking family car that is cheap to run, feels modern and scores highly for practicality, the new Scenic is worth a good look.

Renault Scenic Dynamic S Nav dCi 160 auto 
Body Five-door hatchback  
Engine 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power 160bhp
Torque 360 Nm
Top speed 115 mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 10.7 secs
Claimed economy Up to 62.8 mpg
On-the-road price £29,145

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