Renault Scenic MPV

Price  £19,360 - £22,895

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

The Renault Scenic is a small MPV that competes with rivals such as the Toyota Verso, Ford C-MAX and Volkswagen Touran.

The Scenic gives you the versatility of an MPV in a car that's about the same size as a Ford Focus. It's perfectly suited to family life and has lots of useful storage cubbyholes dotted around the interior. The Scenic's rear seats can be removed completely to reveal a huge load bay.

Buyers can choose from three petrol and two diesel engines. We'd recommend one of the diesels, which offer enough pace for a car like this and are also cheap to run.

Buyer can also choose the Renault Scenic XMOD, which gives the MPV limited off-road ability thanks to clever electronics that give the car extra grip. It also comes with plastic cladding that protects the car from scratches and scrapes. The larger Renault Grand Scenic offers seven seats.

All models come well equipped, with even the basic trim level boasting cruise control, sat nav, climate control and alloy wheels.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.1 / 5

Petrol-engined Scenics are cheap to buy, but cost more to run

The dCi 110 and dCi 130 diesel engines make the most sense in a car like the Renault Scenic, due to their decent fuel economy and reasonable performance. Both diesels return more than 60mpg, while their low CO2 emissions figures mean neither costs more than £30 to tax annually.

The petrol models are cheaper to buy, but more expensive to run. The basic 1.6-litre petrol engine is the least efficient, achieving just 38.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 178g/km for annual road tax of £225.

The other two petrol engines are more modern and efficient. The lower-powered TCe 115 1.2-litre petrol can return economy up to 47.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 135g/km (for road tax of £130 annually), while the TCe130 manages 45.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 140g/km, for road tax of £145 a year.

Renault offers fixed-price servicing for £159 and also offers service plans that let you pay for your car's maintenance with small monthly instalments, starting from as low as £8. Unfortunately, the Scenic doesn't hold it value very well on the used market, with most models dipping below 35% of their original value after three years or 36,000 miles of ownership.

Engines, drive & performance

3.2 / 5

Scenic has a large range of engines and safe handling

The basic petrol engine in the Renault Scenic should be avoided, because it costs a lot to run and takes 11.7 seconds to get from 0-62mph. The 113bhp 1.2-litre is no quicker, but it's more economical and emits less CO2. The more powerful 1.2-litre petrol engine remains frugal, but gets from 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds.

The diesel engines make more sense in an MPV, where mid-range power is important when the car is fully loaded. The 1.5-litre diesel doesn't feel as slow as its 10.5-second 0-62mph time suggests, while the 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine is the pick of the bunch, getting the Scenic from 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds.

Under the metal, the Scenic is based on the Renault Megane hatchback. So although there's a bit more body lean than in the hatchback, the Scenic still feels car-like to drive thanks to its direct steering.

Interior & comfort

4 / 5

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

Get inside and you'll find the Scenic feels nicely put together and looks smart, although it doesn't seem as durable as the Volkswagen Touran. Big windows also give the interior a nice airy feel.

The Scenic has a raised driving position that gives excellent visibility of the road ahead. Finding a comfortable driving position is easy to thanks to a height-adjustable driver's seat and a steering wheel that adjusts for rake and reach.

The Scenic has been designed to provide comfortable family transport and the amount of body lean in corners discourages enthusiastic driving. Yet it also means that the Scenic is an extremely comfortable way of covering long distances and the suspension does an excellent job of smoothing out bumps. The car also does a good job of suppressing wind and road noise on the move.

Practicality & boot space

4.7 / 5

Remove the rear seats and the Scenic doubles as a van with windows

The Scenic's upright body shape means that there's plenty of head and legroom in both the front and back seats. As with many of its rivals, the Scenic's back seat slides backwards and forwards to either increase boot space or rear legroom, but in the Renault it can also recline for added passenger comfort. Even the occupant of the middle of the back seat should be able to get settled thanks to a flat floor that gives them somewhere to put their feet.

Keep the back seats in place and the boot offers 522 litres of storage space, which sounds very generous next to the 380-litre boot of a Volkswagen Golf. But unlike a conventional hatchback such as the Golf, the Renault has back seats that can be completely removed to free up 1,837 litres of space, which rivals some vans. It's worth noting, however, that removing the heavy seats can be quite an awkward task.

The Scenic's gearstick sprouts out of the dashboard to free up space between the front seats. That leaves room for a lidded storage area in the centre console and the car also has compartments in the floor and drawers underneath the front and rear seats. The glovebox is pretty small for an MPV, however – a consequence of the Scenic being originally designed as a left-hand drive car.

Reliability & safety

3 / 5

Sketchy Renault reliability is still a problem

After a strong showing in the 2013 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, we had high hopes for the Scenic in 2014. Sadly though, it dropped 49 places to finish 53rd out of 150 cars. Poor performance was owners’ biggest gripe, but build quality, reliability and ease of driving all came in for stick, too.

When you're transporting yourself and your family in a car, you want to know it's safe, and in this respect the Renault does well. The Scenic has front and side airbags, curtain airbags and electronic stability control.

Price, value for money & options

4.4 / 5

Low list prices and all-inclusive servicing make the Scenic good value

Even the basic Renault Scenic Dynamique TomTom comes loaded with kit, including automatic headlights and wipers, sat nav, climate control, cruise control, keyless entry and go, a Bluetooth phone connection and a USB port. Low list prices and all-inclusive servicing make the Scenic good value. The top-of-the-range Limited model adds to that impressive list with upmarket interior fabric, Limited badges, a panoramic sunroof and rear parking sensors.

As with all Renaults, the Scenic now comes with a four-year/100,000-mile warranty, and if you purchase the car using Renault Finance, it also comes with four years' free servicing. However, you can expect the Scenic to lose more value than the Volkswagen Touran over the course of ownership.

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.
Last updated 
4 Aug 2014

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