What's it like?
Very competent. The Scenic ticks off all the requirements of a compact MPV with studied precision. Practicality, spaciousness, robust build quality and value for money are what make cars such as this a success, and sitting in the new Scenic it's not hard to see Renault's two decades of experience at work.
The cabin is spacious and, thanks to the optional panoramic sunroof, very airy. It benefits from Renault's now-familiar soft-plastic sweeping dashboard design, and everything feels solidly put together. The seats are comfortable in a functional sense, and there is no end of storage space dotted around. It's a shame the sliding centre unit is a redundant gimmick, and removing the rear seats proves almost as inconvenient as mining coal, but otherwise it's hard to find fault inside.
Things aren't too bad behind the wheel, either. The ride quality that impressed on the polished roads of the Continent translates reasonably well onto the UK's patchy highways. Despite crashing over the occasional pothole, the Scenic does a decent job of smoothing imperfect surfacing into an acceptable ride. That said, things do get a little choppy if you push on with too much intent.
The old 1.5 diesel engine delivers competent, predictable performance without ever being especially likeable. Its case is not helped by disappointing hesitancy below 1750rpm, but once into its stride the 177lb ft of torque does at least permit satisfactorily brisk progress and it should be good for 57mpg.
That there is little power to be found beyond the engine's modest comfort zone is a shame, partly because overtaking can become a nerve-wrackingly drawn-out affair and partly because the Scenic's handling is surprisingly good. With well controlled body roll and decently weighted steering, the Scenic will tackle B-road bends with unexpected relish, running out of puff long before it runs out of grip.
Should I buy one?
If you're in the market for a compact MPV, the new Scenic deserves serious consideration. If you can't wait until next year for the new, punchier 1.5 dCi, you might think about the excellent 1.4 TCe if you can bear the drop in economy that inevitably comes with the petrol engine.
While the Scenic never quite makes it to the top of its class, Renault has succeeded in delivering an MPV that's better equipped, more comfortable, safer and certainly better to drive than before. And though it arguably lacks the dynamic polish of its closest rivals, there is no doubt that its aggressive price tag offers impressive value for money.