First DriveStriking looks and clever tech help make this the best Renault Scenic yet. We think going for one of the diesels makes more sense, though
First DriveBody styling add-ons and new traction system aim to turn MPV into a crossover rival; and there's no price penalty for choosing it over a standard Scenic
What is it?
Renault’s ever-green Scenic compact MPV is getting the option of a brand new, downsized, diesel engine, the Energy dCi 130.
With stringent EU ‘fleet’ Co2 requirements bearing down on carmakers (not least the need to hit an average of just 95g/km by 2020) engine capacities are heading in just one direction: downwards.
Renault’s brand-new Energy dCi 130 diesel motor is a perfect example of this trend. An all-new 16-valve unit, it will replace the company’s current, 8-valve, 1.9-litre diesel engine, appearing first in the Scenic range, before being fitted to the Megane.
The company says the Energy dCi unit ‘is the world’s most powerful engine of its size’ offering 128bhp and 236lb ft of torque at 1750rpm, though 80 percent of the twist action is on tap from 1500rpm. Average Co2 output is 30g/km lower than the 1.9-litre diesel.
Work on the new engine started back in 2006 from a clean sheet and features a completely new block (using a ‘square’ short-stroke design), which will form the basis of other, future, downsized engines. A 230m Euro investment, Renault says this engine was tested for a lifecycle of 186,000 miles or 20 years of driving.
The unit includes a number of fuel-saving features including a new stop-start system, regenerative braking, a variable displacement oil pump, a double water jacket in the head (which improves cooling efficiency, allowing the use of a smaller water pump) and low-friction, F1-derived, UFLEX piston rings.
To give an idea of how much reducing consumption is an incremental task, the Energy dCi’s stop-start system reduces CO2 output by just three per cent and the new oil pump by just one per cent.
What’s it like?
The Scenic is the first Renault model to get the new engine and, arguably, its age (the Scenic III is a heavy make of the 2003 Scenic II) means the motor is not shown in its best light. Despite the claims made for the refinement, I found the Energy dCi unit was notably dieselly at tickover and at low speed with wide throttle openings.
However, once the car was rolling, mid-range torque delivery was smooth and seamless, engine noise was decently subdued and the six-speed ‘box was clean shifting. The stop-start works well, too, kicking in virtually as soon as the driver’s foot pressed the clutch pedal.
The Scenic, however, suffered from tyre noise and an occasionally unsettled ride on the roads around Chantilly, especially compared to the Megane I drove on the same route. Overall, the car’s dynamics cannot be described as more than humdrum. OK, it may be a family carrier but it might have been imbued with either a little spark or the sort of old-school loping and languid Frenchness that might particularly suit a car such as this.
Should I buy one?
This Scenic offers both generous space and a comprehensive specification. The cabin, especially upfront, is noticeably wide and spacious and elegantly styled. In this ‘Dynamique TomTom’ specification, there is not much more you could reasonable want (even the seat fabric is Teflon-coated), aside from the bizarre decision not to fit parking sensors as standard. Front and rear, Renault wants another £520. Ultimately, though, most drivers will conclude that Ford’s similarly priced C-Max Titanium is both fresher and sharper to drive.
Renault Scenic Dynamique Tom Tom dCi 130
Price: £20,900; Top speed 121mph; 0-62mph 10.3sec; Economy 64.2mpg (combined); Co2: 115g/km; Kerb weight: 1430kg; Engine type: four cyls, turbodiesel, 1598cc; Power: 128bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 236lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox: 6-speed manual