Renault virtually invented the concept of the MPV with their very first version of the Scenic way back in 1996. Now, when SUVs have cornered the market for family cars that aren’t estates, the Scenic is a bit more of a rarity – and one that’s well worth seeking out.
Renault has always had quite a reputation for producing stylish and distinctive cars - and the Scenic shows this off brilliantly. The first thing you notice is the huge, steeply raked windscreen and the nicely curved roofline behind it.
In fact, everywhere around the car its smooth, flowing lines catch the eye – and so do Renault’s trademark vibrant colours.
The latest version of the Scenic also has huge 20-inch wheels, the same size that cars like Bentleys feature, which make it look even more like a concept car instead of one in general production.
Renault has always had quite a reputation for producing stylish and distinctive cars.
What’s it like to drive?
You don’t buy a car like the Renault Scenic for its sporty performance, it’s more for being able to transport the family in comfort. The good news is that it does this pretty well, thanks to the soft suspension that absorbs lots of the bumps and vibrations that the huge wheels would otherwise magnify.
The downside to this is that the handling when you go into sharp corners isn’t that great, and the body rolls around a bit like a sailing boat in a light swell. Plus, even though there’s the massive windscreen in front of you, the bonnet drops away so sharply it can be hard to judge whether you’re going to sideswipe other cars as you make your way into tight parking spaces at the supermarket.
It’s more for being able to transport the family in comfort.
The exterior style of the Scenic immediately says the interior is going to have more than a hint of the space-age about it - so you’d better prepare yourself for a bit of a disappointment. It’s a surprisingly conventional instrument panel layout with a rev counter and speedometer immediately in front of the driver, as well as all the other key information like fuel level and engine temperature.
The dashboard itself feels a little cheap and plasticky and tends to have a lot of squeaks and rattles when the going gets a little rough on the road surface.
The front seats are comfortable enough with plenty of adjustment for the driver and pretty good visibility to the rear of the car – plus most models also come with parking sensors and some with a reversing camera.
There’s a bit less room in the back, though. This is because the seats are comparatively low down which makes leg room feel fairly limited. On the positive side, there’s plenty of width for 3 to fit comfortably across the back seats.
Most Scenics come with a 7-inch infotainment screen that has crisp and sharp graphics and is pretty intuitive to use. Top of the range cars have an 8.7-inch screen whose portrait shape is especially good for showing the sat nav screen and what lies ahead of you as you drive along.
Practicality is one of the key selling points of an MPV, and the Scenic certainly doesn’t sell you short on this score. The boot is genuinely class-leading and can easily swallow up the biggest of big shops, all the luggage you’re ever likely to take on holiday or even just provide luxury dog transportation. Fold down the rear seats to get even more space, and you can even take them out completely.
There are also plenty of other storage areas in the car including some very handy under-floor cubby holes as well as a pull-out glovebox and a huge centre console. There are also plenty of USB charging points to keep everyone’s devices powered up and ready to go.
Running costs and reliability
The Scenic is a fairly heavy car anyway as well as being built to carry up to 5. Even with the more efficient engines cars have these days, this means fuel consumption is higher than most of its rivals.
The 1.3-litre petrol engine will deliver around 41 mpg while the 1.5-litre diesel manages a little over 51 mpg - both figures that can be beaten by most comparable MPVs.
What cinch loves
You’ve got to hand it to Renault for carrying on their tradition for procuring affordable, eye-catching cars and the Scenic is a fantastic example. It might not carry it off in every detail but then nobody’s perfect and the trade-offs you need to make are a pretty small price to pay.
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The concept of the MPV might be getting a little dated right now but Renault are helping to keep it alive with the Scenic. So, if comfort, style and practicality are what float your boat, then why not come aboard?
This review was