Renault Scenic: 'With a good dose of French flair and seductive appeal it makes rivals look positively dull'
Renault stays loyal to Scenic but has it done enough to return the raison d’etre to the segment
Published 21/09/2016 | 13:32
A pioneer of the compact MPV, the Renault Scenic was one of the game changers in the motoring world and redefined the family car.
It was stylish, safe and offered versatility unlike any rival. But 20 years on, the five-seat MPV faces a torrent of rivals from crossovers to compact SUVs; even the humble estate car is making a comeback.
In the face of such competition, many car makers are abandoning plans for MPVs in favour of the current trend for crossovers. Peugeot has opted to forgo its conventional people carriers and will offer the 3008 and 5008 in SUV form from next year.
But Renault will not be deterred and despite the fact that sales of MPVs are falling, it is sticking loyally to the original concept with an all new five-seat Renault Scenic and a seven-seat Grand Scenic that will be in showrooms around the country by the end of the year.
According to Renault’s chief designer, Laurens van den Acker: “The old Scenic looked like mum and dad had grown bored with each other; the new one looks like they are in love again.”
The key features are a more steeply-angled roof, a two-tone colour scheme, rugged looks and with enormous 20-inch wheels as standard, it certainly has got kerb appeal. The design of the Grand Scenic is not quite as striking but it’s still a very stylish people mover.
Inside, it has benefited from higher quality materials and behind the wheel visibility is excellent with a really good driving position. A new 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen allows everything to be controlled via the R-Link system.
Space is one of the key priorities in a family car and the new Scenic feels much more roomy than the previous version.
According to Renault, the cabin accounts for 80pc of the car’s entire volume. It also boasts a best-in-class 572 litres of boot space, while the Grand Scenic, which is 24cm longer than the new Scenic, has 596 litres.
The three back seats fold, tip, stack and lock into place with admirable ease. Storage is also abundant including a generous glove box and a centre console that can slide backwards and forwards.
Irish buyers are likely to opt for the diesel 1.5 dCi with 110 bhp or 130 bhp. There’s a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a new seven-speed EDC automatic. A Hybrid Assist version will be available from February on the Scenic and by April on the Grand Scenic.
At the launch we tested the 160 bhp version in the Grand Scenic. While we are not convinced that we would like the large wheels quite as much on Irish roads, the Scenic and Grand Scenic are impressively comfortable and easy to handle; the steering is light and the ride quality is smooth and good for all passengers. Neither is the sportiest or the most engaging to drive but this is a market where frugality, flexibility and practicality matter most.
The current Scenic model starts from €23,790 and the Grand from €28,190. The Irish pricing and full specification details will be released closer to launch but we would expect a small increase on current prices.
In the past, city dwellers with growing families have appreciated the versatility of a compact MPV but in today’s market, five-seat people movers struggle to lure buyers away from their crossovers. But if you need seven seats, then cars like the Grand Scenic make a compelling case.
The new Scenic range features a sharper design, extra equipment and improved driving dynamics.
Plus with a good dose of French flair and seductive appeal, it makes rivals look positively dull.