Renault Scenic MPV
Price: £17,955 - £22,195
- Practical interior
- Good value for money
- Five and seven-seat options
- Poor resale values
- Basic petrol engine feels underpowered
- Starting to feel dated against rivals
“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 original Renault Scenic launched in 1996 and was the first car to combine a people carrier's practicality with the compact dimensions of a family hatchback to create a new category – the mini-MPV. Much copied since, the third-generation Scenic still leads the class and is available as a five or seven-seater (in the form of the Renault Grand Scenic) with comfort and practicality impressing in both versions.
The latest model has more space than ever, the ever-dependable flexible seating system and high equipment levels. The diesel engines on offer are all economical and well balanced, offering the combination of lower running costs and decent performance. It's not quite as good as the Ford C-MAX, but is easy to use and solidly built, with a pleasing exterior. It's perfect for family life and is great value for money, and for no extra cost you can get the XMOD version, which adds more rugged mud and snow tyres, different bumpers, plastic cladding and roof rails.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Petrol engined cars are cheap to buy, but cost more to run
The most efficient engine on offer is the 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine, fitted with stop-start technology, which returns up to 69mpg in combined fuel economy, while emitting only 105g/km of CO2. If you go for the bigger diesels you do trade some efficiency for superior performance, but they could be a better choice if you regularly load your car up with passengers and luggage. The cheapest option is the 1.6-litre petrol, which isn’t anywhere near as economical, returning 38mpg and emitting 174g/km of CO2. However, it's quieter and smoother than the diesels if you can handle the higher tax bills.
Interior & comfort
There’s lots of room for passengers and all models are quiet on the move
The current Scenic is longer than its predecessor and offers more legroom and improved comfort. If you drive it too quickly through the corners there is some body roll but that's the trade off for its soft suspension. Wind and road noise are barely audible inside the car, even when driving on the motorway, while the diesel engines are perfect for covering long distances cheaply. The interior is of a high quality, with the dashboard conveniently laid out with the instrument displays as close to the windscreen as possible, freeing up more room the driver and front passenger. All models come fitted with air-conditioning as standard.
Practicality & boot space
Remove the rear seats and the Scenic doubles as a van with windows
The Scenic has a flexible interior that makes it ideally suited to family life. The backs seats slide back and forth to adjust either the amount of space in the boot or to give passengers more legroom – or you can take them out completely to turn your MPV into a van with windows. With all five seats still in place, the boot offers a maximum of 522 litres of storage space - with the back seats removed, that expands to a massive 1,837 litres. The boot lip is low and the opening very wide, so loading bulky items is really easy.
The interior has plenty of storage cubbies for storing bits and pieces, plus under-floor compartments and seat drawers underneath the front and outer back seats. The XMOD version makes driving on dirt tracks and in the snow easier with its computerised grip control system and grippier tyres. The only real issue is that the back seats are cumbersome and heavy when you have to put them back in.
Reliability & safety
Sketchy Renault reliability is better than it used to be
Renault's not known for its reliability but it has been improving over recent years. For instance, the Scenic was the highest-ranking MPV in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, coming an amazing fourth in the list of the top 100 cars. Renault climbed up six places to rank 21st out of 32 in the manufacturers rankings. There have been no recalls or major problems reported so far, either – which means a Scenic is unlikely to let you and your family down.
The quality inside the car is better, too, offering a classier feel that feels robust and solidly built. The Scenic continues Renault's tradition of producing safe cars, coming fitted with six airbags, electronic stability control (ESP) and ISOFIX child seat anchor points fitted as standard. It hasn’t been put through the Euro NCAP crash safety tests yet.
Engines, drive & performance
Large range of engines and safe handling
The Scenic shares many of its components and its suspension with the Renault Megane, so has decent handling, a smooth ride and reactive steering. You get lots of good visibility in its high driving position too. We found the entry-level 109bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine to be underpowered and less efficient than the diesels - the 114bhp 1.2-litre turbocharged engine is much better, however. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel also offers adequate performance but is far cheaper to run, while the larger 1.9-litre dCi is the most relaxing to drive and much better suited to motorway driving. We’d go for the 1.6-litre dCi turbodiesel as our pick of the range, with its balance of good performance and superior efficiency, whether in slow moving town traffic or cruising on the motorway.
Price, value for money & options
Low list prices and all-inclusive servicing makes the mini-MPV good value
If you’re looking for a family car, the Scenic is really good value – it's competitively priced and offers extras like the XMOD at no extra cost. You should also be able to haggle with the Renault dealer to get the best purchase price possible,which you’ll need thanks to Renaults having weak resale value in the used car market. The Scenic is a common sight on UK roads, though, the benefit of which is easy access to replacement parts and components, while servicing is inexpensive thanks to Renault's 4+ package, including a warranty, servicing and roadside assistance for the first four years of ownership.
What the others say
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.
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.
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.
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: 13 Jan 2014