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The Renault Scenic is the 2024 Car of the Year

TG's very own Paul Horrell was on the jury - here's why the Renault beat the other contenders

Published: 26 Feb 2024

The Renault Scenic is the 2024 Car of the Year. The award was announced and handed over at the first event of this year's Geneva Motor Show.

The Scenic topped this year's shortlist of seven cars, with the BMW 5 Series/i5 a close runner up, well clear of the rest of the field. The final result was:

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Renault Scenic - 329 points
BMW 5 Series/i5 - 308
Peugeot 3008/e-3008 - 197
Kia EV9 - 190
Volvo EX30 - 168
BYD Seal - 131
Toyota C-HR - 127

Those seven themselves are chosen from the whole crop of all-new cars available in Europe in the year to November 2023. There were 28 of them this time.

The jurors are 58 road-testing motoring journalists from across 22 countries in wider Europe. I'm one. It's an independent process. No manufacturer pays to enter, no juror gets paid to do it.

For the final round, jurors drive all the cars then distribute 25 votes among the cars. But we can't give any car more than 10, and have to give more than zero to at least five cars.

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The Scenic also got most first-place judgments, as it was the fave of 22 jurors, the BMW taking 19 first places. The EV9 was next, with just seven. So a clear-cut result whichever way you cut it. Another interesting result was that the first Chinese car to make the shortlist, the BYD Seal, beat the Toyota.

As usual, we also submit a brief justification for our voting, which is transparent. You can go on the caroftheyear.org website, click on our names on the voting grid and see our reasons.

Every year when I run this news on TopGear.com there tend to be a few barbed comments. To get my defence in early, I judge a Car of the Year candidate from a different perspective from when I road test for Top Gear. There's a broader set of criteria to consider.

Anyway, to save you clicking, here's a copy of my thoughts submitted when I judged this year. This year as every year, I take the view that if a car isn't the best car in its class, in other words better than existing rivals from previous years, then I'm not going to give it many points. That's why the 5 Series and Scenic did it for me. And for the other jurors too.

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9 pts BMW i5/5 Series

This is a great car to drive or ride in. The suspension and steering are superb, especially the adaptive version with four-wheel steering, which imparts immense spread between comfort and sportiness. The broad range of powertrains are all excellent in their class. The control interface works well once you're used to it. I think the design is brash, but this is the world's best saloon.

8 pts Renault Scenic

There's space for five and useful versatility, even if it doesn't have some of the original Scenic's tricks (which few actually used). The design is agreeable outside and well-furnished inside. It's good to drive, with an agility helped by the well-contained mass. Impressive electric range too. It's the best normal-priced family car on sale, so it gets big points from me.

3 pts Volvo EX30

The sustainability story is strong, especially in the version with the LFP battery. Recycled materials don't undermine the cabin's striking beauty either. I like the steering, and progressive performance of the single-motor version. The twin-motor is OTT. But saving cost and materials by throwing out the switches is a mistake. This is a pleasant car to drive but much too difficult to operate.

2 pts Kia EV9

Immense space and good versatility make this an enviable wagon for a big family. The looks mean they'll be noticed on arrival too. Driver ergonomics are well-thought-out. The long wheelbase is good for space, but there's no four-wheel steering and that makes it very cumbersome around town junctions. The size and mass mean it uses a lot of electricity but at least it charges fast.

2 pts Peugeot 3008/e-3008

The interior design and interface are terrific, a first impression that will give lasting pleasure. The choice between electric and combustion is well-conceived. But it's too heavy, and feels that way to drive, lacking Peugeot's usual vivacity. Yes, it's very quiet and the optional big battery will make headlines but overall I expected better from a brand-new platform.

1 pt Toyota C-HR

The coupe styling is a big draw, yet it will accommodate medium-size rear passengers with only moderate compromise. Economy is strong of course. The plug-in version's extra electrical torque improves acceleration refinement, but the non-plug one still drones a lot. Steering is fine but the suspension is a little noisy. It's the cheapest car on the shortlist but I'm afraid it feels it.

0 pts BYD Seal

It looks good and is well specified, so makes a strong market entry. The advanced electric system and cobalt-free battery are commendable too, and it's enjoyable enough to drive quickly. That's undermined by an agitated ride over bumps, and the logic of screens and switches is pretty eccentric. BYD is moving fast and I'm sure the revised version will have its rough edges polished away. But not yet.

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