The Renault Scenic is back! But not as we know it | Top Gear
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The Renault Scenic is back! But not as we know it

No glorious return for the people carrier, instead it’s - yep, you guessed it - an electric crossover…

Published: 04 Sep 2023
 

The Renault Scenic was a massive player in the 1990s family-car game, a super-versatile people-carrier. Then those egg-shaped things went out of fashion. Now the name is back, as an all-electric crossovery-thing but still with an emphasis on family handiness.

Actually, in the publicity Renault bumf avoids the C-word entirely, and this is indeed a lower car than the rival Tesla Model Y, VW ID.4, Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Ford Mustang Mach E.

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It's closely related to the electric Megane – a car we rate highly – and inherits the same excellent dash layout. If all goes well, the driving smarts too.

But the Scenic has a longer wheelbase for a stretchier back seat and a bigger boot. It leverages that by making life properly homely in the second row. The central armrest has fold-out stands for screens, powered by adjacent USBs. Multiple pockets in the front seatbacks swallow the clutter of travel, and the front armrest slides. Overall Renault reckons there's 39 litres of storage around the cabin. The boot is a solid 545 litres.

A panoramic glass roof is electrically dimming in two separately controlled sections, so it can be clear over the back seats but opaque over the front, or vice-versa.

The long wheelbase gives space for a battery of up to 87kWh. That translates to a 379-mile WLTP range. Call it 300-330 in the real world. That's paired with a 220bhp electric motor, for a 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds. Recharging is rapid, peaking at 170kW, so motorway stops should be brief.

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A cheaper option is 170bhp and a 60kWh pack, for 260 miles range WLTP, or 200-plus real-world. Which is actually enough for nearly everyone, representing as it does three hours' plus of UK motorway driving with the odd jam or roadworks section. It's a family car remember, and by that time someone onboard will be yelling for a comfort stop. All versions have a heat pump so range shouldn't collapse in winter.

An online journey planner takes into account the weather and public charger power, so works out the best places to stop, and tells the car to cool its battery on approach to chargers so it can suck energy faster. The planner works on your phone so you can build the route beforehand, and send it to the car. Which should avoid the stress of the kids' impatience while you're jabbing at the screen when you first get in.

Even with the big battery option, the Scenic is 1,850kg, which is lighter than most rivals. The bonnet and door skins are aluminium to save weight, and that's 80 per cent recycled material. The iron and steel is 37 per cent recycled, and the cockpit plastics and upholstery are in big measure recycled or bio-sourced. Overall, Renault says the Scenic is 24 percent recycled out of the factory, and the company has the expertise to recycle 90 per cent of its mass at the end of life, including recovering battery materials.

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Because it's so closely related to the Megane, you can deduce prices for the 60kWh version will start at just over £40k. But it's still nearly half a year until exact UK specs and prices are announced, and several months more before deliveries start.

So even if you don't think you need a family car right now, you've got time to get pregnant and give birth before the Scenic hits UK roads.

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