Renault Scenic 1.5 dCi review
Stylish MPV or all-conquering 'crossover' car? That’s the choice Renault buyers will have to make, though the company has hedged its bets somewhat by giving the new Scenic 44mm more ground clearance and a taller appearance. I wonder how long it will take other car makers to copy Renault's clever styling 'trick' with its huge wheels. Some people think it is a blind alley but people seen obsessed with appearance these days.
Review by Russell Bray
Renault has launched the new Scenic range with a choice of two 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol and four diesel engines with power outputs from 95 to 158 horsepower. All three diesels are 1.6 litres. Available for test was the Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 diesel model with performance figures of 0-62mph in 12.4 seconds and a top speed of 114mph. With 108bhp at 4,000rpm and 292 lb ft torque at 1,720rpm it is quite lively off the mark but soon loses its forward velocity. You have to be prepared to work it quite hard via the six-speed manual transmission if fully loaded. Experience tells me most of the time the bigger dCi 130 engine delivers a better blend overall of performance and fuel economy for most drivers, but I accept ultimately it is not always so fuel efficient and does cost more. The engines are mostly unchanged from the Megane but in some guises do not seem so economical.
This area is quite interesting because, despite the Renault's massive Bentley-height 20-inch wheels, the Scenic runs on narrower and taller rubber than you first think to keep down tyre rolling resistance and improve ride comfort. For a family car the Scenic handles in a tidy fashion with plenty of warning when the front might wash out of grip. Body roll is well controlled and the steering is precise enough though more weight in it would have given more confidence at times. All considered, the Scenic is surprisingly Megane-like to drive and on dry roads there was plenty of front-wheel drive grip, but even with Renault's clever wheel design the ride is quite lumpy over broken surfaces unless the road is pretty smooth.
Styling is writ large with the new Renault Scenic but everything is not quite all it seems. The huge 20-inch diameter wheels that give the car so much presence are not as wide as you would expect conventionally for such a design; which keeps down costs and improves fuel consumption. And part of the wheel design is a plastic trim to make them look even more dramatic. It's easy at first glance to think the Scenic is another crossover blended car but it has stayed true to its roots and is an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle). There's more ground clearance than before in case you need to tackle slightly rougher terrain. If you need to carry children there is room for three in the back. It can be difficult to judge how far the front of the car protrudes ahead of the wheels. Length 4,406mm. Width 1,866mm excluding mirrors, 2,128 including mirrors.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Over most roads the Scenic rides pretty well but if the road is poor you will know about it. The ride is better on longer wheelbase Grand Scenic versions. We liked the head up instrument display which means you don't have to take your eyes off the road so much. Knee room in the front seats could be more generous if you are tall and back space is somewhat compromised. The rear seats at this trim level fold down electrically but you have to pull them up yourself as the cost and weight of motors of that power would be too much. Renault has finally realised that the best place for instruments is in front of the driver rather than miles away across the dashboard. Apparently there are five engine 'sounds' you can call up and a number of different display designs and colours but these were not demonstrated and the rest of the time you need your attention to keep the car on the road. Options on the test car included hands free parking with 360 degree parking sensors and blind spot warning £500, and adaptive cruise control with safe distance warning £500. There is plenty of boot space and storage compartments. A fatigue alert monitors how the car is being driven and steered and warns the driver if wandering off course.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Over mixed routes with different drivers the dCi 110 Dynamic Nav averaged 50.5 MPG compared to the official average fuel consumption in laboratory tests of 72.4 MPG. Carbon dioxide emissions of 100 g/km slot the car into band A with no road fund licence to pay. These grades change after April next year. Insurance is down a big seven groups to a rating of 11. The car comes with a four-year, 100,000 miles warranty. An electric hybrid model goes on sale next spring at prices from £21,445. Fuel economy for petrol models (not yet tested) is an official 48.7 MPG on the combined test cycle.
An eco driving mode and engine stop start system lets the driver maximise their engine's performance when cruising. The mode also helps owners drive in a more economical way and also recovers energy that otherwise would be lost when braking. The car's low drag coefficient because of its streamlined shape, the second most important factor after weight in terms of saving C02, means a two g/km saving compared to the previous generation of the Scenic. Renault says the tyre will last longer than smaller ones because of their greater rolling circumference. According to our calculations, the tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 34.
It might not be as big as the screen in a Tesla, but most owners will be impressed with the new large touch screen in the Scenic though you need Expression+ trim before you get the seven inch one. The Dynamique Nav specification of the test car wears the 8.7-inch portrait tablet R-Link system with live traffic updates and satellite navigation. We also liked the head-up display which lets you take in information like speed without having to look down at instruments. You don't want for oddment spaces in the Scenic which has the usual French touch of a sliding centre console with 13 litres of volume. There are also hidey holes underneath the front seats and the rear seat floor. The glove box slides outwards like a cabinet. Naturally the rear seats flip and fold easily. Some of the trim lower down the cabin is rather cheap looking and may scratch easily. Options on the test car included metallic paint £545, LED headlights £500, a seven-speaker Bose stereo and digital amplifier. The tyres are not the super low profile they first look. The depth of the tyre wall 107mm to improve ride comfort and they should get lower wear as they rotate less. Renault claims replacement tyre prices will be comparable with 17-inch wheels as they are narrower.
Model tested: Renault Scenic
Body-style: Five-door compact MPV
Engine / CO2: 110hp four-cylinder turbo diesel / g/km
Trim grades: Expression +, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav, Signature Nav
On-road price: From £21,445. Price as tested £28,080
Warranty: Four years/ 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars