First drive: Renault Scenic Dynamique S Nav dCi 110

Futuristic looks, enhanced practicality, improved economy and lower emissions: the all-new Renault Scenic brings impressive qualities to the compact MPV class

What is it?

It’s hard to believe that the Renault Scenic has been around for 20 years. First launched in 1996 – and European Car of the Year in 1997 – it was considered to have invented the compact MPV segment. Four generations later, the new Scenic combines the traditional people-carrying virtues of the older car with brave and bold styling, along with a revitalised range of five economical petrol and diesel engines.

As before, the standard car offers seating for five, while a new second‑generation Grand Scenic caters for seven. The new cars are built at Douai in northern France on the same Renault‑Nissan Alliance Common Module Family (CMF) platform shared with the All‑New Megané, Megané Sport Tourer, and Kadjar (GreenFleet, issue 99).

How does it drive?

The first thing that strikes you about the new Renault Scenic is how it looks. Heavily influenced by the R-Space concept car from the 2011 Geneva motor show, the new French compact MPV certainly cuts a dash. On Dynamique S Nav models upwards this is enhanced still further, with the addition of a contrasting roof panel and door mirrors.

Our Honey Yellow car featured a black roof and really looked the part, also helped by the standard 20-inch alloy wheels. Twenty inches? Yes, but don’t think large rims necessarily equal less economy. 

Renault has taken the decision to equip all Scenics with 20-inch rims – which undoubtedly help the looks – but has negated some of the environmental and cost ill‑effects of larger wheels. The tyre walls for example, are no wider at 195mm than those on 16‑inch rims for lower friction. Narrower tyres mean less drag, too, which Renault says saves 2g/km of CO2 emissions when compared with the outgoing Scenic.

Low rolling-resistance tyre compounds also play their ecological part. Finally, the tyres themselves are A-rated for improved economy, and with three chosen tyre suppliers Renault states the cost for 20-inch rubber should be similar to that four-inches smaller.

The dCi 110 variants will be the pick of the range when it comes to performance and economy. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine will be familiar to drivers of similarly-engined cars from the Renault-Nissan Alliance, and performance is more than adequate. The car’s 192lb ft/260Nm of torque gives lots of mid-range power, which makes it fine on open roads and motorways. You’ll want to take the new Scenic off motorways, too, though: its steering is nicely-weighted, body roll is kept to a minimum, and it turns in well for something so family-friendly.

Pleasantly, the 20-inch wheels don’t create too much road noise, either – unless you’re on really coarse tarmac – and for the most part, the new Scenic has an admirably comfortable ride despite the giant rims. The car only becomes unsettled on really potholed surfaces. Overall, though, the new Scenic is a good-handling and safe MPV, Renault equipping the car with autonomous braking, blind spot warning, cruise control, lane departure, and traffic sign recognition systems as standard. 

Enhancing the driving experience, Renault’s ‘Multi-Sense’ technology is borrowed from the company’s executive models, and is fitted to Dynamique Nav models and above. It allows drivers to personalise the car with five modes – Neutral, Comfort, Sport, Eco, Perso (‘Personal’) – offering various levels of accelerator and engine response, steering weight and air conditioning performance, as well as ambient lighting.

It works well, while a separate switchable ‘Eco’ mode optimises the engine’s performance for economy. The Renault Driving eco2 setting also helps adopt a more parsimonious driving style. As well as the dCi 110, there are also dCi 130 and 160 models with 127 and 157bhp respectively, while the pair of turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engines are available in 112 and 127bhp states of tune. 

How economical is it?

Renault quotes 72.4mpg on the combined cycle for the Scenic dCi 110, which is impressive for a small MPV. Typically, on our 80-mile test route we averaged a less determined 50mpg. The seven-seat Grand Scenic dCi 130 we tested alongside the standard car has a claimed economy figure of 61.4mpg.

If diesel is not your thing, both new Scenic and Grand Scenic models fitted with the TCe 1.2-litre petrol engines are rated at 48.7 and 46.3mpg respectively.

What does it cost?

The £25,565 Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 tested here sits near the top of the new Scenic range, and inside, Renault has done an exemplary job of making the car feel much more premium than its predecessors.

Leather covers the dash and seats, while the centre console is dominated by its portrait-orientation 8.7-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system. This almost iPad-size ‘R-Link 2’ screen controls most of the car’s interior functions, and has crisp, clear graphics, is fast to react and is the largest in the segment.

Adding to its new-found more premium status, a BOSE 11-speaker sound system is standard on Dynamique S Nav models and above, while a full-colour head-up display is also available on selected versions. 

The range starts at £21,605 with the Expression+ TCe 115, while the Dynamique Nav models begin at £23,105. Dynamique S Nav cars kick off at £25,105, while the highest-specification Signature Nav Scenics cost from £26,605. Equipment is high on all models, although the Expression+ and Dynamique Nav cars feature a seven‑inch touchscreen infotainment system, 1.7 inches down on the 8.7-inch unit fitted to Dynamique S Nav models and above.  

How much does it cost to tax?

The dCi 110-engined version of the new Renault Scenic is the most efficient both in terms of emissions and cost – for now. A class-leading 92g/km ‘Hybrid Assist’ version (see panel) joins the range this year.

Until then, the dCi 110 new Scenics have CO2 emissions of 100g/km and incur a £120 first year rate, £140 thereafter. The most expensive new Scenics to tax are the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol versions at 129g/km.

The Grand Scenic dCi 130 we tested alongside the standard model (see panel above) is rated at 119g/km, which costs £160 to tax in the first year, dropping to £140 thereafter under the new rates which were introduced in April 2017.

The cleaner 104g/km dCi 110 version costs £140 per year which is the same as its initial first year period. Just as with its smaller brother, Grand Scenics fitted with the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine emit 136g/km.

Why does my fleet need one?

As good to drive as they are practical, the new Renault Scenic and Grand Scenic prove that MPVs no longer have to wear bland, square-edged suits. 

Renault states that the new cars are “MPVs you want rather than need”, and we’d agree – those distinctive looks and bold detailing, lower running costs, improved economy, and impressive practicality make the all-new Scenic and Grand Scenic genuinely desirable not just to families, but to people-moving fleets, too.

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