Long-term test: Renault Scenic

Long-term test: Renault Scenic
Long-term test: Renault Scenic

It’s handsome, but is there enough behind the looks?

It’s clear that the lines of the latest Renault Scenic have helped turn heads and turn potential customers into customers. It’s a handsome beast that belies its bulk neatly, but as a working member of our fleet, it needs to be more than that. And as a mule for photographer John it needs to be able to cope with large loads, early starts and long miles. Can it deliver?

Those looks have clearly been improved as a consequence of Renault trying to make this MPV look much more like one of the SUV brigade. However, Renault reckons there’s actually more space inside than in the previous model and they’ve taken steps to ensure practicality is improved as well.

For example, it’s running on large wheels but the tyres are specially designed to have high sidewalls which act as part of the package offering a soft and compliant ride.

Renault Scenic

Handling and ride do seem pretty easygoing, even with the vehicle stuffed full of gear. It’s only when fully laden that you feel the need to work the six-speed manual much. Otherwise the 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine pulls strongly enough for most chores and trips and makes a useful motorway muncher.

The body should be very aerodynamic, but one consequence is that when you’re driving at speed in rain the side windows have their own little water vortex storm going on, which renders rear visibility less than useful. It’s not the only vehicle to do this, but it’s the worst we’ve encountered for it so far.

That’s on the outside. Inside it’s very modern as well as spacious. It’s all very digital, including the displays for all the essentials like speed and fuel. Once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll find all you need easily.

Renault Scenic

But the desire to push this MPV towards SUV territory has led to a notably raised floor. Which in turn means passengers have their knees set high, higher than their hips. That’s not entirely comfortable over long distances, exacerbated by the sloping roof at the rear. Those in the rear seats have to not only have their knees high, but their heads can end up touching the roof quite easily.

But the driver won’t mind that much because the high floor gives the driver the high driving position that is so popular with the SUV crowd. Combine that with a lot of glass and you have a lot of visibility which aids enjoyment and safety.

The passengers get a slice of this too with a full-length fixed panoramic roof, so if you suffer from claustrophobia this is definitely a vehicle for you. So far, the whole family has enjoyed this hard-working vehicle, although there is just one bone of contention. That colour – love it or hate it.

Mazda MX-5 2.0 review - still as sharp as a surgeon's scapel

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross review - SUV is left in the shade