What is it?
This is the new Renault Scenic, which the French car maker hopes will take it back to the forefront of the five-seat MPV market by building on its reputation for cost-effective, practical motoring.
To this end, prices are an average of £2000 less than for the previous model, leading to our estimated £17,500 price for this car. Longer servicing intervals on some parts make running costs cheaper and there are more frugal, cleaner engines on offer too.
The new engines reflect some of the trend for downsizing, and when the car goes on sale next month they include the 1.4 Turbo Control Efficiency (TCe) 130, 2.0 VVT 140 CVT and 2.0 dCi 160 FAP.
However, we’re testing the Renault Scénic 1.5 dCi 110 Privilège, which won’t be available in the UK until early 2010. What’s more, while we tested the engine with a manual gearbox, the current plan is that it will only be available in the UK with Renault’s DCT dual-clutch transmission system.
The Privilege trim level is the range-topper and adds dual-zone climate control, electric folding mirrors, part-leather upholstery, rear parking sensors and a sliding central storage unit to an already extensive equipment list that includes just about everything you could think of – plus many you wouldn’t, but will come to appreciate.
What’s it like?
The basics are certainly there. There are enough adjustments for every size and shape of driver to get comfortable, there’s lots of knee space front or back and the seats are all cosseting (if a little narrow for three in the back). The cabin feels airy thanks to the large, wide windscreen, although the broad A-pillars could get in the way in town driving.
The ride is good on smooth roads, but suspect on bumpier surfaces. Anything but the smoothest surface also results in slightly intrusive road noise. Handling is reasonable, the steering well weighted and, while this is always going to be a car that puts comfort above sporting dynamics, it has reasonable body control.
The dCi 110 diesel engine hits the mark when it comes to blending performance and running costs. Two up on our test it offered adequate performance everywhere, including steep hills, and it only becomes noisy when revved hard. Our only concern would be how it coped in similar circumstances five up, with luggage. This engine is good for 54.3mpg on average, and emits 136g/km of CO2.
Practicality is top notch, with the rear seats sliding forward or tumbling out in a reasonably simple, if clunky, three-point manouvre to open up load space to 1870 litres, albeit with a short load lip to overcome. There’s a huge glove box, a variety of cup holders and door cubbies, sliding storage trays under the seats, and under floor storage areas in the back.
Should I buy one?
Maybe. The new Renault Scenic is certainly good enough to be on every MPV buyer’s shortlist, but it doesn’t have a great deal of sparkle, and that could lead to it losing out in the final reckoning.