The evolution of the MPV
It’s 1996.Gazza scored against Scotland at Euro 96, on the same day that the IRA bombed central Manchester. The Spice Girls replaced Take That in the pop charts, Dolly the sheep was cloned & Renault launched the Megane Scenic, their first small MPV. Back then, customers couldn’t get enough of MPV’s, with both the Scenic & larger Renault Espace selling in droves & especially appealing to young families. Based on the Megane hatchback platform, the Scenic was so popular that all of the major car manufacturers followed suit launching variously the Ford C-Max, Peugeot 307, Volkswagen Touran, Vauxhall Zafira & Citroen Zara Picasso.
Over the past 20 years though, MPV’s popularity has wained, being replaced by Crossover’s/SUV’s on most customers driveway’s. Despite this, the latest Renault Scenic arrived here at the end of 2016 featuring a more radical look than its predecessors that has been inspired by the current demand for Crossovers. Based on the same platform as the latest Megane, as well as the Renault Kadjar, Nissan Qashqai, X-Trail & Pulsar models. As before, there are five-seat Scenic & seven-seat Grand Scenic models on offer & it was the latter that arrived at Company Car for us to drive.
The Scenic line-up is the same as the Megane’s; Expression+, Dynamique, Dynamique S & Signature models. choose from. All models come attractively equipped with alloy’s, climate control, keyless entry, DAB & Bluetooth. We were driving the Dynamique S Nav, which adds 20” alloys, panoramic sunroof with electric sun blind, Sat-Nav with TomTom Live, a rear parking camera, an 8.7-inch infotainment set-up, a head-up display & 11-speaker Bose stereo.
There are five engine choices, beginning with the 1.2 TCe turbo petrol in 115 guise in the Expression+, while the rest of the range has a 130 version of the same engine. For diesel customers, there’s a choice of the 1.5 dCi 110, which powered our test car or the larger 1.6 dCi130 or 160 in the top-spec Signature model only.
Renault have at least mad the latest Scenic interesting to look both inside & out. Our test car came with the contrasting roof, black & body colour, Honey Yellow, which makes it stand out in a crowd. The front end is bulbous & the side’s feature both curves & creases. The rear is quite subtle & feature the same signature rear light clusters debuted ion the Megane. In-your-face Exception 20” alloys finish off the overall aggressive look, mile’s away from MPV’s of old.
Inside, the design & layout is similar to the new Megane, with the centrally located touchscreen dominant. The digital speedo, fuel & rev instruments are located behind the steering wheel, with most of the cars functions controlled on the touchscreen. The steering wheel controls include adaptive cruise control on the left, with the trip-computer & separate audio controls on a stalk to the right. The cruise control button is like in the Kadjar, unconventionally located in the centre binnacle under the hand brake place. Above this is a manual button to select driving mode. There’s a choice of five, again selected via the touchscreen. The infotainment system links great & is relatively straightforward to use & includes a pinch & swipe function. A major bugbear is that just like in some of the PSA products & latest Volvo’s, you have to access the touchscreen to adjust temperature & the fan, which is extremely tiresome, especially when your’e using the SatNav
Up front, passenger space is excellent with multi-adjustable front seats making it easy to get comfortable. The rear seats slide back & forth but there is not as much leg room as you would think, although rear headroom is excellent. The Dynamique S Nav features a clever sliding centre console, which contains cup holders & a couple of useful storage areas with 13 litres of space. Rear seats get aviation tables & rear storage pockets, plus sun blinds on the rear window. There are also hidden compartments under the front seats & rear seat floor, plus a glovebox that slides outwards like a filing cabnet
The Scenic offers a class-leading bootspace capacity of 572-litres, plus there’s a removable boot floor under which our test car hid the Bose subwoofer & emergency spare wheel. The boot is well-shaped, but the load lip is high, so even with the seats folded down you’ve got a ridge to lift over. The rear bench can be folded at the touch of a button, with this increasing the boot capacity to 1,554 litres, impressive but 297 litres less than in a C4 Picasso.
Those 20” alloys don’t help the ride of the Megane, which is a bit sloppy & hard, especially around town. Despite it’s increase size, the steering & handling around tight corners is excellent &b with our extra hands-free parking pack squeezing into tight spaces was easy too. The 1,461 cc engine with torque of 260Nm’s at 1,750rpm does feel underpowered in such a large car & I would be tempted to go for the more powerful 1.6 version. It takes 12.4 seconds to hit 62mph from a standing start & has a top speed of 114mph. This lack of power is really felt on the motorway. Getting to 70mph takes forever – 7.5 seconds to go from 30-50mph in 4th gear- & when you engage cruise control, the adaptive system slow’s you down so much as you approach a car in front, that it takes ages to get back up to speed again. Fed up, I turned this & the lane departure warning off.
Better news is the CO2 emissions which are an attractive 100g/km & the claimed combined fuel economy is 72.4 mpg. In our real world test though, our combined figure was 46.8mpg, probably because I push date accelerator too hard hoping for some oomph !
The Dynamique S Nav costs £25,565OTR. Our test model included the following extras; metallic paint £545, full LED headlights £500, Parking Pack Premium £500, which includes hands free parking, 360° parking sensors & blind spot warning, the Safety Pack Premium £500, which adds Adaptive Cruise Control with Safe Distance Warning & AEBS, plus the BOSE Pack £500, featuring 11 speakers, a subwoofer & digital amplifier & finally the emergency spare wheel £95, brought the price up to £28,205.
Renault’s aim with the Scenic was to manufacture an MPV, that was more akin looks-wise to a Crossover. It’s certainly different, but it’s still looks like an MPV. The Scenic is generously equipped & for the lower specced models, attractively priced as well. What let’s it down slightly, is it’s harsh ride & the lack of power from the 1.5dCi engine, which I think is too small for the model. Go for the more powerful 130 engine fitted out in Dynamique spec & I think you’ll be much happier.
A Family-Friendly 3.5/5