Renault Scenic MPV
Price £20,555 - £22,995
- 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."
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.
The Renault Scenic is at its best fitted with a frugal diesel engine
It drives better than you’d expect, but the Renault Scenic is no sports car
There’s lots of room for passengers and all Scenics are quiet on the move
The Renault Scenic has a hugely practical interior that’s perfect for families
After an impressive showing last year, the Renault Scenic has tumbled down our Driver Power 2014 rankings