Renault Scenic MPV
Price £18,165 - £22,395
- 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
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 combines the versatility of an MPV with the dimensions of a compact family hatchback. Its interior is perfect for families, with lots of storage areas dotted around the cabin, and seats that can be moved around, reclined, or removed entirely for carrying large items. The Renault Grand Scenic, meanwhile, offers more space and has seven seats.
The Renault Scenic can be had with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines, but it's the diesels that make the most sense, adding excellent fuel economy and low emissions to the Scenic's long list of plus points. Buyers can opt for a range of trims including the Renault Scenic XMOD, which gets a more rugged look thanks to protective body mouldings. It also comes fitted with Renault's advanced traction control system – Grip Xtend – for added grip in slippery conditions.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Petrol engined cars are cheap to buy, but cost more to run
The entry-level 1.6-litre petrol engine is the most expensive to run. It can return just 38.2mpg, while producing emissions of 178g/km of CO2 for road tax of £225 annually. The remaining two petrol engines are much more efficient at 1.2-litres in size. The lower-powered TCe 115 can return economy up to 47.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 135g/km (which mean road tax is £130 annually), while the TCe130 manages figures of 45.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 140g/km.
Going for a diesel gives you the choice of two engines – the dCi 110 or the dCi 130. Both offer economy of more than 60mpg, while their low emissions figures mean neither cost more than £20 to tax annually.
Interior & comfort
There’s lots of room for passengers and all models are quiet on the move
The Renault Scenic has been designed with comfort in mind, so while it isn’t much fun to drive quickly down a country road, its suspension does an excellent job of smoothing out lumps and bumps. The cabin is also quiet – with wind and road noise kept at bay very effectively.
The cabin is a nice place to be, with high-quality plastics on show and a stylish, clutter-free dashboard. Buyers can also opt for useful features such as keyless entry and go, which means you don’t need to search for your keys every time you get into the car.
Practicality & boot space
Remove the rear seats and the Scenic doubles as a van with windows
The Renault Scenic was designed to cope with the rigours of family life. It has back seats that slide forward and back, for more rear legroom or a bigger boot, and they can also be removed entirely to load bulky items. Even with the back seats in place, the boot offers a generous 522 litres of storage space, but take them out and that leaps to 1,837 litres. You might need help from a friend to do that, though, because taking them out can be tricky – the seats being heavy and cumbersome to move.
The Scenic has various cubbyholes hidden around its interior, including compartments in the floor and drawers underneath the front seats, as well as underneath the outer two seats in the rear.
Opt for XMOD models and the Scenic gets all-weather tyres and clever electronics, meaning the Renault has decent grip on muddy or snowy roads.
Reliability & safety
Sketchy Renault reliability is better than it used to be
Renault doesn’t have a great record for reliability and the company didn’t do particularly well in our 2013 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey – coming 21st out of 32 manufacturers. Nonetheless, the Scenic came an honourable fourth place in the Driver Power model rankings, finishing ahead of multiple premium models.
Safety, on the other hand, is a Renault strong point and the Scenic's five-star rating from Euro NCAP confirms all is well on that front. To get the five-star rating, the Scenic comes with front and side airbags, curtain airbags and electronic stability control. Move up the model range and you can add to the list of safety features.
Engines, drive & performance
Large range of engines and safe handling
We would steer clear of the entry-level petrol engine – it may be cheap to buy, but it is also the most costly to run and feels underpowered when pulling the Scenic's relative bulk. Opting for one of the more hi-tech 1.2-litre petrols means the Scenic feels a bit more spritely and also burns less fuel.
The diesels make the better options overall though - they don’t feel slow and they also return the strongest economy figures. The 1.6dCi is the quickest of the bunch, while also being cheap to run.
Despite its taller body, the Scenic actually has much in common with the Renault Megane hatchback, which means the MPV feels car-like to drive – although its raised driving position gives better visibility – with direct steering and suspension that irons out bumps on the road.
Price, value for money & options
Low list prices and all-inclusive servicing makes the mini-MPV good value
The Scenic model comes decently specced and all cars get cruise control, front and back electric windows, and air conditioning. Opting for the Dynamique Tom Tom version gets you sat-nav. Top spec models add to that with rear parking sensors, as well as keyless entry and start.
Renaults now come with a four-year/100,000 mile warranty, which should be all the peace of mind that most new owners need. Buy your car using Renault finance and you’ll also get your first four years of servicing for free. The Scenic is, however, likely to lose more value than the Volkswagen Touran, one of its closest rivals.
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.