From £37,4958

After falling out of favour as a pure MPV, Renault's Scenic has been reinvented as an electric family crossover

What’s that? You thought the MPV was dead? Yeah, us too. But it seems there’s hope for those who’ve been yearning for a modern family-mover that isn’t a high-riding SUV, because life has been breathed back into the class with an all-new, all-electric Renault Scenic E-Tech

Well, sort of, anyway. The fifth-generation Scenic hasn’t entirely avoided SUV-itis and is (predictably) billed as a crossover, even though Renault is also very quick to point to roominess and functionality as its chief selling points. It’s a “new form of family vehicle”, it said when unveiling the 4.5-metre-long five-seater in September, that offers “family solutions” inside and SUV desirability outside. 

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DESIGN & STYLING

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renault scenic e tech 02 panning side

That’s all well and good, but a walk around the outside leaves questions as to whether the swoopy window line and fairly narrow rear screen can really bode brilliantly for the airiness and visibility that you might want of something claimed to be a family specialist, even if it leaves no doubt as to the modern, SUV-ish style traits.

Is there more than a dash of Peugeot-like styling to that front end? Hmm. Well, these things are always subjective. Regardless, the Scenic looks fresh and modern, and the Renault badges on the front and back are certainly big enough that you won’t mistake who makes it. 

Based on the same CMF-EV platform as the Nissan Ariya and Renault Mégane E-Tech, both also electric crossovers, the Scenic gets a single permanent magnet motor on the front axle, which delivers 167bhp in the Comfort Range version or 215bhp in the Long Range that we’re testing here. There’s no dual-motor, four- wheel-drive model planned. 

The batteries are 60kWh and 87kWh nickel-manganese-cobalt packs that are good for WLTP combined ranges of 267- and 388 miles respectively. Their LG-sourced cells are said to achieve six per cent better energy density than in the Mégane, which itself was launched as recently as the beginning of 2022. However, it’s likely that only the bigger-battery Scenic will make it to the UK, in high-spec trims that will cost from around £40,000. 

It’s notable that a heat pump is standard, while charging maxes out at a very competitive 150kW. The 22kW AC option will be useful for those with regular access to a faster, three-phase AC charger. 

INTERIOR

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renault scenic e tech 08 dash

So is the Renault Scenic E-Tech really MPV-like inside?

Its 545-litre boot capacity is certainly promising. You open the tailgate to a really deep, squared-off load space that’s complete with a few bag hooks, a 12V charger and cable storage under the floor. The problem is that the floor is a long way down from the load lip, and the 40/20/40-split rear seats leave a big step up when folded down. So while there’s plenty of space in the boot, it’s mostly in the depth. 

Having a huge drop over a not-terribly-low lip means persuading dogs to steeplechase into a dark well; and it’s back-crippling stuff having to heft a heavy buggy up, over and down, rather than just sliding it onto a flush floor. However, Renault has told us it will be offering a variable boot floor in the UK that will solve this issue, either as standard or as a very affordable option. 

There’s endless leg room in the back of the Scenic – more than in the new Peugeot e-3008 – and even if you get the panoramic glass roof (which has smart glazing, allowing its opacity to be changed at the touch of a button), a couple of six-footers will be very comfortable. The middle seat squab is wide and the central passenger benefits from the lack of a transmission tunnel, so three kids will be reasonably happy together across the rear bench. 

However, while the three-way seat split is more useful than the 60/40 split of many rivals and the centre armrest has a cunning hidden phone stand and two charging ports, the seats don’t slide or recline, and you can mount only two child seats to them. For true family practicality, we would have wanted more seat versatility – ideally three individually adjustable seats with three sets of Isofix points in proper MPV fashion. Sadly, such ultimate practicality seems to be reserved for van-based cars nowadays.

Sliding into the front seat doesn’t do anything to shake the increasing suspicion that the Scenic is in fact a plush, large hatchback with nothing MPV about it – just like most of the family crossovers in this class. Chiefly because the visibility to the rear is poor, and even forwards visibility is middling at best, as the chunky side mirrors often obscure your view at junctions. 

Anyway, this sounds like we’re on a massive downer on the Scenic, but that’s not the case. The lack of versatility is a big disappointment, following Renault’s noises about this car’s family usefulness being such a big selling point; but if you take the Scenic for the straightforward, roomy electric crossover that it evidently is, it’s a strong contender. For a start, the materials used inside are lovely. Our high-spec Iconic test car was particularly nice, with light, part-leatherette upholstery and grey textile inserts. Some 80% of those materials are from recycled sources, too. 

The dashboard is very similar to that in the Renault Austral, so the 12.0in touchscreen is your window to just about everything, but there’s also a slim row of physical air-conditioning buttons just below it, which makes us very happy. The screen has in-built Google software, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it’s one of the better ones in the class. There’s a useful shortcut button to the home page permanently visible at the top of the screen, and having all the familiarity and usability of Google Maps is great. 

Sometimes these really huge, portrait-oriented screens are actually harder to use on the move than those smaller screens that have a ledge on which to steady your hand, but the large icons and reasonably straightforward layout of this Renault system make it pretty easy to get along with. 

Which perhaps can’t be said about the array of stalks coming out of the right-hand side of the steering column, where you will find the gear selector, the indicators, and a chunky growth of buttons below that again for the audio. It’s a lot of protruding controls to be fumbling around with in a small area. 

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

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renault scenic e tech 21 tracking front

You get the same 'Multi Sense' driving modes here as in the Mégane E-Tech, meaning that you can cycle through Personal, Comfort, Eco and Sport to alter the steering weight and accelerator response (as well as the interior ambient lighting and climate settings).

Our 87kWh Iconic test car rode on big (20in) wheels and Michelin Primacy tyres and felt more than fast enough for everyday driving. The 8.4sec 0-62mph time is hardly noteworthy, but the Scenic feels urgent enough when you want it and appropriately smooth, punchy and intuitive the rest of the time.

The Scenic’s speed limit warning sounds are like submarine sonar – an echoing two-tone ping. Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to turn off.

Renault now gives you three strengths of regenerative braking to choose from (just as in the Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona Electric, which will be among the Scenic’s key rivals), or you can turn it off entirely to coast freely. Even the heaviest doesn’t quite afford one-pedal driving, but it’s close to it, and having easy control of the various settings means that you can use them almost as gears for deceleration, should you want to. 

Otherwise, braking response is a touch inconsistent at times in harder use, but overall the Scenic will ease you through the daily muddle very nicely.

RIDE & HANDLING

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renault scenic e tech 23 tracking front

There are no adaptive dampers on the Scenic E-Tech, nor are they an option; but that’s fine because the car's damping is well-tuned and generally cushy, and the body control is tidy. You do notice the Scenic’s heft keeling over in sharper direction changes, but it’s never overly dramatic or jarring, nor does it detract from the general sense of this being a relaxed and unflappable car. 

The steering is light in all of the modes other than Sport, when it weights up noticeably. The easy responses in the less overt settings feel more natural even if you’re hustling along, and while there’s plenty of front-end grip to make use of, the Scenic isn’t a car that offers up much fizz anyway. 

Rather, there’s satisfaction to be found in the confident progress it makes. If there is a niggle, it’s that the steering can feel a touch quick off the dead-ahead, especially at speed, but that’s far from a deal-breaker.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

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renault scenic e tech 01 tracking front

UK specs and prices haven’t been confirmed yet, but the Renault Scenic E-Tech is likely to cost from £40,000 up to around £44,000, which is no small price and will have it face everything from the Skoda Enyaq and new Peugeot e-3008, right up to the Tesla Model Y and Hyundai Ioniq 5

However, Renault’s finance deals are typically very competitive, and the Scenic’s relatively long range is tempting: expect 320- to 340 miles in real-world use from an 87kWh car.

VERDICT

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renault scenic e tech 24 static front

The Renault Scenic E-Tech seems a solid midfielder in this increasingly crowded family electric car class. It doesn’t break any new ground, especially not with its conventional seating and practicality. Even so, if you ignore Renault’s noises about “family solutions”, it’s just as useful as rivals, and its tech, interior finish and roominess are really great.

It deserves to be a popular choice.