2024 Renault Scenic E-Tech electric car review
Reborn Renault Scenic is now an electric SUV designed to combine classic family car practicality with an electric range of up to 388 miles...
On sale: Early 2024 | Price from: £40,000 (est)
Luxury fashion label Burberry almost went bust in 2008, having developed an undesirable image. Yet, it’s since been able to win back customers, not by looking to the past, but by moving with the times. And the team behind the new Renault Scenic E-Tech appears to be banking on a similar strategy.
You see, when it first went on sale in 1996, the Renault Megane Scenic (as it was then called) was a new type of car that proved so popular it had rival brands scrambling to produce copycat designs.
Key to its success was the practicality it offered. The mini MPV – which became simply the Scenic after its 1999 facelift – took the high roofline and flexible seating of the iconic Renault Espace and applied them to a vehicle that was a more manageable size and significantly cheaper to buy.
Now, though, it's back, having adopted SUV styling itself, and becoming part of Renault's E-Tech electric car line-up. It has a long official range and, potentially, a competitive price.
Taking back its previous success won’t be easy, though, with rivals including the Hyundai Ioniq 5 proving really practical and the Tesla Model Y very easy to live with. Does the new Scenic E-Tech really have what it takes to steal back its crown? Let’s find out...
What is the Renault Scenic E-Tech like to drive?
Every Scenic comes with an 87kWh battery and a 217bhp electric motor. The huge battery is heavy, though, and the Scenic isn’t that quick by electric car standards, officially sprinting from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds. For comparison, the Model Y RWD takes just 6.6 seconds.
Even so, you could argue that you don’t need an EV like this to be super quick, because the Scenic will still be more than sufficient for everyday driving. Indeed, it pulls away from junctions promptly, even with the reduced power of Eco mode, and will happily overtake slow-moving traffic.
In order to cope with the weight of the battery, Renault has had to make the Scenic’s suspension quite firm, and that comes at the expense of ride comfort. Indeed, the Scenic’s ride is quite busy, fidgeting constantly as you drive along, even on smooth roads.
True, the Scenic doesn’t thud over imperfections like the Model Y – another rival with firm suspension – but it lacks the overall control of that rival, and never really settles as a result.
There’s no adaptive suspension available with the Scenic, so the various driving modes are more concerned with how much power you have and the weight of the steering. Even so, regardless of whether you’re in Eco, Normal or Sport mode, the steering is always rather light.
That’s not helped by the fact that it adds weight inconsistently as you turn the steering wheel and the speed at which the nose darts into corners as you turn off the centre point. It’s less noticeable around town, but on a country road it lacks the feedback you get from the Model Y’s heavier steering.
It’s fair to say that the Scenic isn’t really the kind of car you’ll be taking for a weekend blast, so we suspect dynamics won’t be as important to most buyers as range – an area where the Scenic impresses.
You see, that big battery promises a range between charges of 388 miles, more than the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Skoda Enyaq iV 85 and even the Tesla Model Y Long Range. Of course, we doubt that you’ll get that range in the real world but it’s encouraging that all trim levels come as standard with a heat pump, to help increase efficiency in the winter.
When you eventually need to plug in, the Scenic will accept a maximum charging rate of up to 150kW, faster than the Enyaq and the VW ID.4 and slightly slower than the 175kW offered by the Ioniq 5. There’s an option of 22kW AC charging, too, which is handy for those with a three-phase AC charger.
What is the Renault Scenic E-Tech like inside?
If you’ve sat in the new Renault Austral, the base design of the Scenic’s interior will feel very familiar. It shares the same 12.3in digital driver display behind the steering wheel and the same portrait-oriented 12in touchscreen infotainment system dominating the centre console.
Speaking of which, the screen is crisp and the software easy to use, responding swiftly to your prods. It comes with plenty of features, too, including standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring and built-in Google Maps for satellite navigation.
As with many of the Scenic’s rivals, you control almost everything through the touchscreen, including the climate control. Unlike rivals including the Model Y, the Scenic gets physical buttons as well as touchscreen shortcuts to make changing the fan speed, temperature etc really easy on the move.
Material wise, the Scenic is quite impressive and you’ll find soft-touch materials on top of the dashboard and on the doors. There are scratchy plastics in a few areas, but much less than in the Ioniq 5, and they’re hidden better. It doesn’t have the showroom appeal of the Model Y, which is filled with soft-touch materials, but the Scenic is still a very pleasant place to be.
You sit quite low within the Scenic, meaning you don’t feel like you’re perched quite as high as you do in the Model Y or ID 4. Combined with thick front windscreen pillars, forward visibility suffers, while thick rear pillars and a small rear windscreen somewhat compromise rear visibility, too. Top-spec versions come with a digital rear view mirror, front and rear parking sensors and a parking camera, to help negate the issue.
A key focus of the Scenic has always been its family-friendly focus and, despite the new SUV styling, Renault hasn’t forgotten that. In fact, demonstrating this point perfectly are the mobile phone slots built into the fold-down rear armrest, which will hold a phone or tablet at the perfect angle for watching videos, keeping the kids entertained on a long journey.
There’s also a very clever panoramic glass sunroof which allows you to switch from see-through to opaque to in sections from front to rear. That’s handy when you’ve got the whole family in the car, allowing those in the front to see out while also protecting children in the rear from blaring sun, for example.
The Scenic is so focused on serving families, practicality is obviously a big thing. To that end, there’s loads of space in the front for a pair of six-footers and generous head room in the rear, even for someone sitting in the slightly raised middle seat.
Rear leg room, however, isn’t quite as impressive. True, there’s a good amount of knee room, but the foot well feels quite small and there’s hardly any space under the front seat for your feet. Indeed, the Ioniq 5 has loads more leg room and will likely be more comfortable on long drives, especially for teens with long legs.
At 545 litres, the Scenic’s boot is slightly bigger, on paper, than that of the Ioniq 5, a car that managed to swallow seven carry-on sized suitcases in our tests. In more relatable terms, that means the Renault's boot should be more than sufficient to swallow a couple of buggies or a family’s holiday luggage.
For the times when you need more space, the Scenic’s rear seats can be split 40/20/40 and folded down – you have to negotiate a lip up to the seat backs when you do, though. Unlike the Ioniq 5 and Model Y, the rear seats don’t do anything else clever, like recline or slide fore and aft.
While final pricing is yet to be confirmed, we suspect that the Scenic will start around £40,000, meaning that it’ll cost a little more than the Enyaq 60 and slightly less than the Model Y RWD – both of which have a much smaller range.
That makes the Scenic a very tempting proposition for families that want an electric car, especially when you combine the long range between charges with the practical and well thought out interior.
True, the Scenic isn’t as good to drive as rivals including the Ioniq 5 and Model Y, nor does it ride as well, but we suspect it’ll be far from a dealbreaker for most people.
What Car? rating 4 stars out of 5
Price £40,000 (est) Engine Electric motor Power 217bhp Torque 221lb ft Gearbox 1-spd automatic Battery size 91kWh (total) 0-62mph 8.4sec Top speed 105mph Official range 388 miles (WLTP) CO2/tax 0g/km, 2%
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
Read more: All the electric cars coming soon >>
Best electric cars 2024 – the EVs to buy and those to avoid
Sales of electric cars are booming, and no wonder: the best are quiet, cheap to run and smooth to drive. But which are the brightest sparks – and which are the loose connections?
BYD Atto 3 long-term test
Can an unfamiliar car brand show established names a thing or two when it comes to comfortable, practical and cost-effective electric motoring? We're finding out