What is it?
The world’s first compact people carrier has fallen down the pecking order in recent years. Rivals have copied Renault’s Scenic and added their own clever touches – the electric sliding doors of the Ford Grand C-Max, for example, or the upscale cruising ability of the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. What’s Renault done? Well, there was a facelift last year, but it wasn’t enough: the standard Scenic will thus be replaced with a crossover-style variant later this year, called XMOD. Grand seven-seat models will, however, remain.
You don’t buy a people carrier for high-octane thrills, but to deliver a peaceful ride for the family no matter what the situation or load. The Scenic generally delivers this. It’s a bit pattery when unladen but settles down well with the family on board. It’s safe, stable, comfortable and simple to steer, even if the driving position remains odd.
Updated engines for revised models mark a big improvement. The best-selling diesels have been transformed, with the 1.5-litre dCi getting an upgrade and the new 1.6-litre dCi taking centre stage overall. Default to either, but don’t dismiss the sprightly little 1.2-litre TCe turbo either: it’s way better than you’d expect. Do, however, dismiss the droning old 1.6-litre petrol – and don’t expect a particularly satisfying gearshift from any of them. At least the 1.5 dCi now offers a twin-clutch transmission as an option.
On the inside
Practicality is all here and the Scenic remains an exemplar, in both five-seat regular-length and seven-seat extended-length Grand guise. It’s roomy, the sliding seats are comfortable and there are stowage boxes everywhere – even in the floor. The 2013 range revision sees just a single Dynamique trim offered, which includes Renault’s simple to use TomTom sat nav system as standard.
The five-seat model offers a big 437-litre boot. Just be aware that if you fill all seven seats in the Grand Scenic, you’ll more than halve the luggage allowance: ditch them and fold all the seats down to make a van-like 2,000 litres available.
Ignore the lure of the 1.6-litre petrol’s budget entry-level list price. Spend £1,100 more on the 1.2-litre TCe and you’ll get over 10mpg more, with a corresponding cut in CO2 which will save you every year when you come to tax it. Better still, choose diesel: the best is capable of 68.9mpg, even in Grand guise, which is pretty amazing for one so upright. Renault’s new four-year warranty adds reassurance too. And it makes things very simple when choosing a trim as there’s only one available. Still, Renault is generous and includes a bounty of equipment as standard with it.