“The Renault Scenic and Grand Scenic offer good value for money and are designed to take whatever family life can throw at them.”
The Renault Scenic first arrived in 1996, and was the first car to blend the practicality of a people carrier with the compact dimensions of a family car. It's available as a five- seat Scenic and seven-seat Grand Scenic, and no matter which you choose, practicality and comfort are hugely impressive. The Scenic is perfectly suited to family life, plus it represents excellent value for money – which explains why it has picked up so many family car awards over the years.
The Scenic offers reassuring handling, with a smooth ride and accurate steering. The high driving position means good all-round visibility, too. The entry-level 1.5 dCi diesel offers adequate performance and is cheaper to run. Larger 1.9-litre dCi diesels are more relaxed to drive, and better suited to motorways. The 1.6-litre petrol engine is underpowered and trails the diesel on efficiency. But the pick of the range is the new 1.6 dCi turbodiesel, which mixes great punch with strong refinement at idle and motorway speeds.
inside the latest Scenic, there's more space than ever before. It's longer than the car it replaces, so all passengers benefit from an increase in leg and knee room over the previous model. Comfort is excellent, too, while the car is well insulated from wind and road noise on the move. The clever dashboard layout places the instruments as far forward towards the windscreen as possible, and this helps to free up extra room in the front for the driver and passenger.
OVER the years, Renault's reliability has been sketchy to say the least, but there are signs that things are beginning to improve. The quality on show inside the Scenic is better than it has ever been – the car has a very classy feel and appears robust and solidly put together. Renault will expect its latest-generation people carrier to achieve much better scores for reliability than its predecessor managed in our sister title Auto Express's annual owner satisfaction survey, Driver Power.
The Scenic's rear seats slide back and forth, allowing owners to adjust the amount of boot space on offer. However, if you want a completely flat floor, you have to remove the rear seats completely – and then you’ll need somewhere to store them. There are plenty of cubbyholes dotted around the cabin. The only blot on the Scenic's practicality copybook is that the rear seats are heavy and cumbersome to refit.
Value for money
List prices are very competitive throughout the Scenic range, so there's no doubt that it represents good-value family motoring. It's always worth trying to haggle in the showroom, as Renault sales staff will frequently offer good deals. Poor resale values can be a problem for the manufacturer's cars, but practical people carriers like the Scenic are more desirable second-hand than most other models.
Renault's 1.6 dCi diesel is very efficient and will return up to 69mpg economy with emissions of only 105g/km. The bigger diesel engines aren’t quite so clean, but thanks to their extra power, they’re certainly worth a look if you often need to transport lots of passengers. The 1.6 petrol engine is also worth a look, as it's by far the cheapest option. It isn’t quite as economical, with 38mpg, but is quiet and smoother than most of the diesels.