Renault Scenic MPV

Price  £20,555 - £22,995

Renault Scenic MPV

reviewed by Carbuyer

  • Practical interior
  • Good value for money
  • Five and seven-seat options
  • Poor resale values
  • Starting to feel dated compared rivals
  • Basic petrol engine feels underpowered

At a glance

The greenest
Dynamique Nav dCi 110 eco2 5dr £21,395
The cheapest
Dynamique Nav TCe 115 5dr £20,555
The fastest
Dynamique Nav dCi 130 eco2 5dr £22,495
Top of the range
Limited Nav dCi 130 eco2 5dr £22,995

"The Renault Scenic and seven-seat Grand Scenic offer great value for money and are designed to take whatever family life can throw at them."

Renault launched its first Scenic compact people carrier almost 20 years ago and the model is still available today. Of course, it's not the same vehicle it was then; there have been several new versions since.

However, while its outward appearance may have changed, the layout is similar inside. You get a roomy cabin with plenty of storage, seats that are removable and slide independently of each other and a spacious boot. There's a larger, seven-seat Renault Grand Scenic model available, too, but here we’re concentrating on the standard five-seat model and its more rugged-looking XMOD spin-off.

The Scenic sits a little higher than conventional hatchbacks, so occupants, especially younger children, enjoy a great view out. The Scenic also has three ISOFIX child-seat mounting points in the back. The result is a genuinely versatile, safe and practical family car that – for children at least –turns every journey into an adventure.

It's not all good news, though. The Scenic faces newer and stronger rivals such as the Citroen C4 Picasso and the latest Ford C-MAX – both of which look nicer inside and out and offer a better driving experience.

You can choose between two diesel and three petrol engines. Starting with the petrols, we’d ignore the inefficient old 1.6-litre and go for the more powerful of the two more modern 1.2-litres: the TCe 130. It produces 126bhp – enough to haul a fully loaded Scenic comfortably – yet returns a respectable 45.6mpg and costs £130 a year to tax.

That's not bad, but the more powerful of the two diesels (the 126bhp dCi 130) is the engine to choose if you do a lot of driving or regularly carry a full load of passengers. It’ll do 64.2mpg and costs £30 a year to tax – much more family-friendly figures. It can also manage 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds.

There are just two trim levels: Dynamique Nav (with TomTom sat nav, LED daytime running lights and keyless entry) and the more expensive Limited Nav, with all that plus rear parking sensors, powered door mirrors and a panoramic sunroof that floods the cabin with light. Both models have dual-zone climate control, rear sun blinds, seatback tables and cruise control.

The XMOD version is a more rugged take on the Scenic, with a slightly raised ride height, body cladding and clever electronics that improve grip in slippery conditions to give limited off-road ability. Remarkably, the XMOD is no more expensive than the standard car, so for us, it's the pick of the range, especially with the more powerful diesel engine and in Dynamique Nav trim. This is the first of two available XMOD specifications, the other being the expensive Dynamique Nav Bose+.

Euro NCAP awarded the Scenic five stars for crash protection under its old testing regime, and although it's tightened up procedures since then, it's still fair to say the Renault is a safe car. It has automatic headlights and wipers, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. Reliability seems to be a bit of an issue, but at least new cars have a three-year warranty.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.1 / 5

The Renault Scenic is at its best fitted with a frugal diesel engine

Engines, drive & performance

3.2 / 5

It drives better than you’d expect, but the Renault Scenic is no sports car

Interior & comfort

4 / 5

There’s lots of room for passengers and all Scenics are quiet on the move

Practicality & boot space

4.7 / 5

The Renault Scenic has a hugely practical interior that’s perfect for families

Reliability & safety

3 / 5

After an impressive showing last year, the Renault Scenic has tumbled down our Driver Power 2014 rankings

What the others say

3.7 / 5
based on 4 reviews
15 / 20
It's a really nice little engine to use: torque spread over a wide range, an ability to rev to a high-for-a-diesel 5,000rpm if you need to finish your overtake before changing up. There's barely any turbo lag, and not much either in the way of rattle and shake. Beyond that, not much to say. It just works.
3 / 5
It's very difficult to make a people carrier interesting visually because of the almost inescapable requirement to make it a tall, two-box shape. Therefore, the details are paramount, which thankfully on this occasion Renault has done a decent job with. The family DNA gets an outing via the loosely triangular shapes flanking the lower grille, coloured silver, and raked headlights that manage to make the car look lower and more athletic from the front. The way the taillights frame the rear screen is neat too.
4 / 5
The Scenic is a spacious five-seat MPV with a swanky cabin and a big, well-shaped boot. It's good to drive and refined, and running costs shouldn’t break the bank.
4 / 5
Renault claims to have invented the compact people carrier with the Scenic in 1996 and its third generation model remains among the best of its type. Launched in 2009 highlights include new engines including a frugal small turbocharged petrol engine and a powerful diesel, a roomier interior and sharper looks. While the used market might prefer the versatility offered by the Grand Scenic and it's seven-seat layout, the Scenic still offers plenty including comfortable access and extra practicality over a conventional hatchback.
What owners say 
4.1 /5 based on 341 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
28 May 2015
Own this car? Leave your review.