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Car Review

Renault Scenic review

£37,440 - £45,440
810
Published: 27 Nov 2023
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The new Scenic is spacious, efficient, light and good-looking. But did Renault have to pinch the name from its fondly-remembered MPV?

Good stuff

Good to drive and ride in, handsome, long range

Bad stuff

Doesn't have the versatility of early Scenics

Overview

What is it?

The Renault Scenic was a massive hit with car-buying families in the 1990s, so you can see why they wanted to revive the name. But that was that and this is this. It's a long-ish wheelbase, long-range electric family car.

The original Scenic's one-box profile and its ultra-versatile interior, with three individual folding and sliding rear seats, are history. Fair enough: people gradually stopped buying those MPVs, and unused ultra-versatile seats just add weight and cost.

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These days the sales (and the legal mandates) are in stuff like the Tesla Model Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Nissan Ariya, VW ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq. That's where the Scenic competes.

Renault has another family electric hatch, the Megane E-Tech Electric, but people have complained it's not roomy enough in the back. The Scenic is largely the same up front but has a 100mm longer wheelbase, devoted to the rear.

People also grumbled that the Megane's battery size isn't enough, so the Scenic comes with 87kWh as standard. That's 391 miles WLTP. Which ought to shut them up.

So no family-amusing cabin novelties then?

Actually, although the seats are straightforward, there is one. If there are only two people in the back, they can drop the centre armrest. That has two USB sockets, and trays for this 'n' that, and cupholders. Pivoting brackets around the cupholders act as little arms to grip and hold upright tablets and phones. They can be set either across the car so both people can watch the same screen, or at 45 degrees so each can see their own.

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That armrest opens up more to turn into a ski hatch. There are more USBs for when the centre seat is occupied. In all the Scenic has six sockets and a wireless charging pad.

The top-spec has Solarbay, a glass roof that can be rendered opaque by LCD switching, with separate LCD sections for front and rear. Less weight than a blind, and more rear headroom.

Oh and Jean-Michelle Jarre composed the pedestrian warning noise and the Scenic’s other beep-beep-boops.

How is it to drive?

Very good. The suspension is taut and the steering quick. It's well-balanced and lively in bends. It's very light for a long-range EV – 1,850kg, and that shows in its sense of fleet-footedness. Yet it doesn't feel flimsy.

Performance is easily strong enough for most people: the lead engineer remembered the R5 GT Turbo he drove in his 20s. This is a match for acceleration.

Renault's excellent driver interface helps. You get physical buttons for the most urgent functions, and a big customisable centre screen too.

How is it to ride in? It's a family car after all.

It's fine. Adult-size people in the back have all the room they need, so they can enjoy their screens. It'll do three abreast, and the flat floor means the central bod has foot space. Headroom's not a problem either. You get useful storage in the cabin, and the boot's fine.

It's quiet over the road and through the air. The ride is firmish – think Kia EV6 rather than Hyundai Ioniq 5 – but it's well damped. Which will likely reduce the need for sickbags out back.

What are the electric stats?

Here in Britain an 87kWh battery is standard, for a range of 391 miles WLTP. Renault is honest enough to say this means 231 miles at French motorway speed, an average of 72mph. And that's exactly what we got – 116 miles for 50 per cent discharge – on French motorways and open-country, quick roads driven at eight degrees Celsius. And we were paying precisely zero attention to energy economy.

So it's going to be about 260 on UK motorways and more than that on slower roads. Unless you've a headwind, driving rain or it's really cold. And actually a heat pump and battery heater are standard in the UK, so low-temp range should hold up pretty well. Finally, battery chemistry is different from the Megane's, and is able to deliver more of its rated energy down to colder temperatures.

Rapid charging is good too: it's not about a headline-grabbing power spike, but a consistent rate as the battery fills. It has online charge planning and will precondition on approach to the charger and then can average 110kW over 30 minutes starting from 20 per cent, so you've added 50kWh in that time.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

The Scenic is good-looking on the outside and well-finished within, and in most ways it's a very sweet drive

It's likeable. Lots of rational reasons why: space, efficiency and lightness count in its favour. But it's also good-looking on the outside and well-finished within, and in most ways it's a very sweet drive.

We almost wish it wasn't called Scenic. It's a name that has long since evaporated from public consciousness in Britain, and in any case this isn't a Scenic. But it is a very good car.

The Rivals

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