Still going strong, Keith Ward takes a look at a French favourite which seems to be lasting the pace well.
THE Scenic does seem to inspire loyalty among its owners. A pal is on his fourth, changing every three years and demanding of his dealer that the trade-in should be such that his hire purchase payments stay roughly the same. Simple – his own version of leasing, I suppose.
As the bigger Espace had done before it, the Scenic on its original launch in 1996 set a fashion for the whole industry, in this case for the compact MPV, followed quickly by just about every other manufacturer. Total Scenic sales have gone on to exceed 3.3m, making it Europe’s “most popular family MPV”. It played its part in a bumper year just gone for Renault UK, with a 51 per cent zoom in sales.
This fourth generation Scenic keeps to the formula of versatile seating, a high driving position and as many as 40 storage spaces (total 86 litres) scattered around a roomy cabin. Improved visibility has resulted from moving the windscreen pillars further back. A wheelbase slightly longer allows more rear legroom. Since 2004 there has been a Grand Scenic alternative, with a third row of seats.
Our test Scenic had Renault’s latest EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) automatic transmission, promising mpg and emissions equivalent to a conventional manual gearbox. Like similar designs from other manufacturers, it dispels traditional prejudice against automatics for small engines.
Its six gears working through a double clutch ensure relaxingly smooth changes. The gear lever can be slid over to manual operation if required. The 1.5-litre, 110 bhp diesel is tweaked to keep emissions and therefore annual tax low, mpg high and yet give reasonable, if not exactly startling, performance.
Fuel consumption suffered, no doubt, from some dead-slow and stopped progress between winter snows, in one erratic journey which took us from Yorkshire across North Wales, the Irish Sea (courtesy of a Stena ferry) and on across a white rather than emerald Ireland itself to the Atlantic coast. All that at an average of under 48 compared to an official combined rating of over 56 mpg.
Extra cost options fitted to the test car included the welcome dual zone climate control (£410), the emphatically unused panoramic electric sunroof (£615) and a rear parking camera with front and rear sensors (£665).
Standard on this Dynamique Tom Tom version is a superb full-colour, touch-screen sat-nav system with traffic information and alternative routing, valuable in circumnavigating those winter hold-ups.
Also aboard are automatic headlights and wipers, Bluetooth connections, rear side sunblinds, cruise control, a folding front passenger seat and ISOFIX kiddy-seat mounting points on all three second row seats.
Altogether, a friendly, family package.
Model: Scenic Dynamique Tom Tom 1.5 dCi 110
Engine: Diesel; four-cyl; 1,461 cc; six-speed automatic
Power: 110 bhp @ 4,000 rpm; max torque 240 Nm @ 1,750 rpm
Performance: 112 mph; 0-62 in 13.4 secs
MPG: On test 47.7 mpg; official combined 56.5 mpg
CO2: 130 g/km;
Insurance: Group 16E
Warranty: 36 months/60,000 miles