Renault Scenic long-term test review

The latest Renault Scรฉnic people-carrier is big on style and technology, but is it practical, too? We've got six months to find out

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Renault Scenic
  • The car Renault Scรฉnic 1.5 dCi 110 Dynamique S Nav
  • Run by Luc Lacey, photographer
  • Why it's here Renault claims to have redefined the MPV with its latest Scรฉnic, but while it's certainly striking to look at, we want to know if it's as practical and easy to live with as the best rivals
  • Needs to Cope with all of our photography gear, provide smooth transport on long journeys and be an effortless commuter

Price ยฃ25,455 Price as tested ยฃ28,080 Miles 18,308 Official economy 72.4mpg Test economy 50.8mpg Options fitted Metallic paint (ยฃ545), LED headlights (ยฃ500), Parking Pack Premium (ยฃ500), Safety Pack Premium (ยฃ500), Bose Pack (ยฃ500), spare wheel (ยฃ90)

18 January 2018 โ€“ saying goodbye to the Renault Scรฉnic

The fourth-generation Renault Scรฉnic was born out of the existential crisis currently afflicting all MPVs: the SUV. Put simply, when such cars began to flood the market โ€“ weโ€™re talking about the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan Qashqai here โ€“ they offered similar levels of the practicality to the traditional MPV but looked more athletic and featured the raised driving position that the British public seems to crave. In recent years, SUVs sales have duly exploded, while the time-honoured MPV has had a torrid time of it.

Renaultโ€™s answer was to create a halfway house. As such, the latest Scรฉnic has a higher floor than its former MPV classmates and its design is clearly more lithe and muscular. Renault's claim is that there has been no trade-off in practicality, but 18,000 miles have given us enough opportunity to conclude otherwise.

While the raised floor gives the driver a commanding view of the road, it means rear-seat passengers can struggle for head and leg room. Boot space is excellent, being able to carry endless photographic equipment, but thatโ€™ll be of little consolation to uncomfortable passengers.

The adjustability of the load space is a real perk when loading bulkier, awkward items (bicycles et cetera). The rear seats fold flat at the touch of a button, leaving you with a flat surface to slide everything in. The rear seats are also on runners, so should you need extra room in the boot, you can simply slide them forward. However, doing so will lead to any adults in the back having their knees pushed into the tables installed on the backs of the front seats.

Thatโ€™s the main bit of bad news out of the way. Indeed, there are more reasons why weโ€™ll miss this new interpretation of the family vehicle than not.

The 1.5-litre dCi is the least powerful diesel engine in the range, but it develops good torque for effortless progress most of the time. Certainly, trips from the London down the New Forest and up to the Lake District have been dispatched with surprising ease, and even on the motorway there have been precious few occasions where Iโ€™ve wanted for more power.

Fuel economy hasnโ€™t matched the claim of 72.4mpg, but my taxing blend of urban commutes interspersed with mammoth-mileage photography excursions for the magazine have yielded 50.8mpg overall. Thatโ€™s not bad when you consider just how much luggage โ€“ and, often, extra personnel โ€“ the Scรฉnic has been lumbered with. The engine is, however, a touch unrefined when youโ€™re travelling long distances.

That the Scรฉnicโ€™s ride refinement is one of its strong points became apparent to all who experienced it. Every model comes with concept-car-like 20in wheels. Youโ€™d imagine these would destroy the Scรฉnic's ability to lap up road imperfections, but thatโ€™s not the case, thanks to the large sidewalls of the tyres. Yes, potholes and the like will send a ripple through the interior, but the way this car flows with the road was a highlight.

Just donโ€™t push it too hard, because Renault has clearly scarified some body control in the process of giving the Scรฉnic its ride suppleness. Thereโ€™s quite a bit of body roll and not a vast amount of grip, either.

We found the other drawbacks โ€“ gripes, really โ€“ of Scรฉnic โ€˜ownershipโ€™ to be the keyless entry system, which doesnโ€™t always work as effortlessly as it sounds, and the climate control, which relies too heavily on the touchscreen inputs. In fact, the overall layout of the Scenicโ€™s interior controls are a little misconceived.

The designers have attempted to de-clutter the dashboard by replacing physical buttons with touchscreen inputs, but these icons are often too small and dotted around the edge of the screen. In addition, too many operations require you to cycle through a number of menus, which is not only frustrating but also, in the context of driving, quite hazardous. Several rivals, most notably from BMW and the Volkswagen Group, address this aspect of usability with greater panache.

Maintenance has been a doddle, with the Scรฉnic requiring only its โ€˜A+Bโ€™ service during its time with us. That consisted of an interior filter change along with an oil and filter change. The major consumables were also checked, and all in it came to just ยฃ258.

So, while the Scรฉnic may not match the technological highs of German rivals, its distinctive design and easygoing nature make it likeable. That it's cheap to run is a major bonus, too โ€“ just double check with the people who'll be sitting in the back before buying.

Renault Scรฉnic โ€“ test data

Dealer price now ยฃ16,163 Private price now ยฃ14,366 Trade-in price now ยฃ13,930 Test economy 50.8mpg Official average 72.4mpg Contract hire ยฃ303.20 Cost per mile 10.5p Total running cost ยฃ1935 fuel Insurance group 11 Typical insurance quote ยฃ417

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