REVIEW DATE: 24 May 2007
Andy Enright checks out Renault's Scenic in 1.6-litre petrol guise
There's little doubt that in this most family-oriented of market sectors, safety sells. Renault hasn't been slow to recognise this fact and the latest Scenic model has replicated the five-star Euro NCP test result of its sibling, the Megane. To equal the result of the Megane hatch while taking account of differences in its weight and layout, the structure of the Scenic was strengthened in a number of strategic areas.
It's this depth of engineering that can make all the difference in the event of a genuine accident and until fairly recently, this sort of development was too costly for manufacturers to perform. Renault have invested over 100 million Euros into improving safety and yet the Scenic 1.6 that sits pristinely uncrumpled before us starts at just £15,515. This includes front, side and curtain airbags and all seats are fitted with five-point seat belts.
The 111bhp 1.6-litre engine is probably the smoothest in the petrol line up, slotting between the 98bhp 1.4-litre unit and the 136bhp 2.0-litre powerplant. Four mainstream trim levels are offered, starting with the Authentique and progressing through Dynamique and Expression up to the range-topping £17,765 Privilege; hardly big money for such a multitalented performer. A further option for more adventurous buyers is the Conquest model which offers chunkier mock-4x4 styling.
Even if you never have cause to utilise the airbags, the Scenic 1.6 is a car that instils a feel good aura of money well spent. With a three-year warranty and 18,000-mile service intervals, it's off to a good start. Factor in 37mpg average fuel economy and a modest Group 6 insurance rating and the Scenic 1.6 hammers home the advantage. The final clincher is a residual value that's a good deal more German than French.
The Scenic rides on Megane running gear, offering five seats. A long wheelbase seven-seat Grand Scenic is available for a £1,000 premium but most will settle for the regular model, offering as it does a usefully larger cabin than its predecessor. The wheelbase is up 105mm and the overall length stretches 125mm. It's a hefty 127mm wider and even stands a good deal taller. Height-wise it's within a centimetre of the first generation Espace, but it's a significant degree longer and wider and the cabin is massively more space efficient. How times change.
The interior feels roomy enough, the clean lines and low dashboard adding to the airy feel. Legroom is especially generous in the back, especially when the rear seats have slid into their rearmost position. The central seating position in the back can be removed and the remaining two seats repositioned to allow more elbowroom but it's not quite as slick as Ford's diagonally sliding system. Ride quality is possibly the best in class with the Scenic making short work of rutted A-roads and poorly surfaced motorways.
"Renault have proved with the Scenic 1.6 that it is possible to make a safe, economical, stylish and affordable mini-MPV.."
The Scenic has been revised in recent times, the biggest alteration being to the styling, Renault giving the car a nip and tuck in order to keep it looking fresh. Xenon-look headlamps, LED rear lights and revised front and rear bumper assemblies give this mini-MPV a sharper, more contemporary look a million miles away from the Teletubby-soft original that took Europe by storm. The interior has been revised too, with better quality trims, and there's also a different palette of exterior colours and alloy wheel designs. The options list has also swelled to include items such as MP3 stereo compatibility, a panoramic sunroof, front passenger seat height adjustment and front and rear parking sensors.
Ride quality is possibly the best in class with the Scenic making short work of rutted A-roads and poorly surfaced motorways. Even on the optional seventeen-inch wheels, bump and thump through the suspension remains very muted. There is a trade off when it comes to handling, but Renault have probably judged the ride/handling balance wisely. Those few drivers who feel they need a vaguely sporting mini-MPV will find the Focus C-MAX and the Honda FR-V more to their liking. That said, the driving position is now much more car like.
Emerge from a Scenic 1.6 and even the most pernickety will be confronted with a tiny grumbles list. The stalks are a little fiddly and it's possible to switch the headlights on when effecting a hasty indication and the centre-mounted instruments aren't the last word in legibility but that's about it. Renault have proved with the Scenic 1.6 that it is possible to make a safe, economical, stylish and affordable mini-MPV. It's bound to create a big impact.
The results below show the top SCENIC deals on buyacar
|Renault Scenic 1.6 VVT Expression 5dr estate|
|Renault Scenic 1.6 dCi Dynamique TomTom 5dr diesel estate|
|Price £17,545||Save £4,650|
|Renault Scenic 1.5 dCi Dynamique TomTom 5dr [Start Stop] diesel estate|
|Price £16,689||Save £4,406|
|Renault Scenic 1.6 VVT Dynamique TomTom 5dr estate|
|Price £15,234||Save £3,911|
|Renault Scenic 1.2 TCE Dynamique TomTom 5dr estate|
|Price £16,055||Save £4,190|
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|OVERALL||7.0 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||7|
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