What is the Renault Scénic/Grand Scénic?
One of the first compact MPVs on the market, the Scénic introduced family car buyers to a new concept: a multi-seat estate with a high roof and lots of space that is the size of a hatchback and drives like one. The thing is, since the original was launched in 1996, just about every other mainstream manufacturer has joined the party, and the Scénic itself is now looking rather passé next to trendy newer models.
It still has much to offer, however. The third-generation Scénic (from 2009) comes with a range of economical engines and is well equipped, easy to drive and pleasant to ride in. Longer-wheelbase Grand Scénic models seat seven and have in effect rendered the larger Espace redundant.
The Grand Scénic scored the full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, too, and all versions come fitted with stability control, curtain airbags and Isofix child seat mounting points. Three child seats can be fitted in the back of the five-seater, or in the central row of seats in the Grand Scénic (theoretically, at least — some parents are reporting difficulties). The rearmost sixth and seventh seats, which fold away flat into the floor of the Grand Scénic, can even accommodate adults — just about — thanks to a sliding central row. The seats don’t all tumble or fold flat, though, and are heavy and awkward to remove.
The most economical engine is the 1.5dCi 110 diesel, which returns 68.9mpg and emits a low-tax 105g/km in its latest form with stop-start (from early 2012). It’s no high-performance powerplant, nor the quietest and most refined, but is perfectly adequate for the needs of most families. Lower-mileage drivers may prefer the turbocharged 1.4 and later 1.2 TCE petrols, however: they are surprisingly nippy, and the latest 1.2 returns a very respectable 48.7mpg. The 1.6 VVTs are cheap but weedy. Ultimately, it’s not worth splashing out on the larger engines, and they are harder to find second-hand anyway.
All but the entry-level models have an automatic electronic parking brake, which takes a bit of getting used to, and likewise the Renault entry-and-ignition card has proved both glitchy and, in the opinion of many drivers, an absolute pain in the neck (it’s easy to lose cards in bags and pockets). The Scénic is arguably far more complex than it needs to be and is best bought in its simplest forms. That said, the upper-end models do come with a full range of creature comforts and attractions such as night vision and lane departure warnings, Bose audio systems, Carminat TomTom sat navs and some pretty plush upholstery.
What to look out for
Renault has tended to score poorly in reliability and satisfaction surveys, let down by electrical and electronic faults. The 2009-on Scénic/Grand Scénic appears to be doing better than its predecessors, however, and came seventh in the MPV category and 55th overall in the 2012 JD Power survey (beating the Citroën C4 Picasso and Vauxhall Zafira by some margin). Owners have complained of faults including malfunctioning stop-start systems, electronic parking brake failure, general electrical and electronic troubles, inadequate ventilation/air-con, and failure to achieve anywhere near the claimed fuel economy; they’re also often confused and frustrated by some of the gadgets.
The one to buy
Renault Grand Scénic 1.5 dCi Expression
- 1461cc, 4 cylinders
- 110bhp @ 4000rpm
- 177 lb ft @ 1750rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 13.3sec
- Top speed:
- 57.6mpg (combined)
- Road tax band:
- L 4344mm, W 1845mm, H 1637mm
Renault Scénic and Grand Scénic rivals
- Citroën C4 Grand Picasso (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Peugeot 5008 (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Vauxhall Zafira (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
Published December, 2012