Car Test   R0255
  See also R0158 
August 2002
  Renault Scenic
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.9dCi Fidji
Five years on and still going strong, Renault’s clever, trendsetting Scenic, so flattered by imitation, is still a year away from replacement. This gives us the opportunity to test the current turbo-diesel model – the one version that’s so far eluded us.
   A wide range of engines is on offer, from the 1.4/95bhp “starter” to the lively 140bhp two-litre, but this 105bhp common-rail turbo-diesel is the newest.
   It’s by no means the sweetest, though. Certainly it has the performance and economy to match or better those of its derv-drinking rivals, but, for a supposedly up-to-the-minute motor, it’s neither as smooth nor as quiet-revving as it should be. It isn’t very tractable in top gear, either, so the somewhat clingy gearchange is no stranger to the driver. Top slot’s highish gearing results in a long-legged lope on a motorway – which is welcome.
   There’s nothing sporty about the Scenic’s handling; it feels rolly when cornered enthusiastically, and the rather low-geared steering doesn’t help matters. Instead, a comfortable ride takes precedence over spirited bend-swinging – which is the way it should be for an easy-going family ferry, if one has to choose between one or the other.
   We would have liked a cushion-tilt setting on the height-adjustable front seats, but even so, they’re comfortable and include modest lumbar adjustment for the driver. Pity the steering wheel doesn’t telescope as well as tilt, though. All-round vision is very good, however, and convenient stalk controls, clear dials, a trip computer and a single CD player ease the driver’s lot.
   Storage spaces abound throughout the air-conditioned interior, which, in the case of the Fidji, boasts a generous equipment list, based on the mid-range Dynamique specification.
   Despite its maturity, the Scenic is still a force to be reckoned with among its rivals, even though Multipla and Zafira can offer a seat or two more for the school run. For those in the back, there’s ample leg-stretching space and headroom, but the seats (particularly the centre one) aren’t very wide and will be overspilt by three big blokes.
   All three seats flip-fold, slide and are easily removable, and each sports a head restraint and a three-point seatbelt. Removing the centre chair and man-handling the remaining pair on to an inboard set of floor mounts transforms the Scenic into a superbly spacious four-seater with extra, limo-like legroom.
   Thanks to good height under the two-position parcel shelf and the absence of wheelarch intrusion, the large, flat-sided load area has a healthy appetite for all manner of cargo. The opening tailgate window proves an additional convenience.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Safety Euro NCAP
  • lots of surprise and delight features
  • sensible/legible warning light cluster
  • back seats quite easy to remove and refit
  • rear headrests lower into seatbacks
  • air conditioned coolbox for drinks
  • tiny air con warning light
  • no shopping bag hooks
  • front wiper sweeps not ideal
  • door mirrors rather small
  • lowered armrest mars gear lever/handbrake use
While the Scenic may not be the most rewarding compact MPV to drive, it is still one of the best all-rounders; it’s keenly priced, the roomy, easily adaptable interior boasts a lot of clever touches and there’s a wide range of engines. Think twice before opting for this disappointing diesel, though. Its performance and economy are acceptable, but its growly, unrefined matures makes it the Scenic’s weakest link.

engine 1870cc, 4 cylinder, turbo-diesel; 105bhp at 4000rpm, 147 lb ft at 1500rpm; belt-driven single overhead camshaft, 8 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 26.2mph/1000rpm in 5th, 20.4 in 4th
suspension front: independent MacPherson coil spring/damper struts, anti-roll bar
rear: independent, four transverse torsion bars, trailing arms, telescopic dampers
  steering hydraulic power assistance; 3.5 turns lock-to-lock; 10.7m diameter turning circle between kerbs (18.3m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with standard anti-lock and brake force distribution controls   wheels/tyres 6in alloy with 185/65R15T tyres (Dunlop SP10 on test car); full size (steel) spare

size and type lower-medium (mid-priced) MPV   trim levels Freeway, Sport and Elegance "Collections" with three trim levels in each
engines petrol: 4cyl/1.4 litre/95bhp, 4/1.6/110, 4/1.8/120, 4/2.0/140 turbo-diesel: 4/1.9/80, 4/1.9/105   drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual (4-speed stepped automatic optional with 1.6, 2.0 and 1.9dCi (105)

HOW THE RENAULT SCENIC COMPARES~ engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Renault Scenic 1.9dCi (5) 4/1870/105 2670 12.7 17.6/26.4 46/157 14/28.5 108 102/76a 3.5/10.7 417
Citroen Picasso 2.0HDi (5) 4/1997/90 2840 14.0 18.6/27.0 50/147 16/26 106 95/72 3.3/12.0 428
Fiat Multipla JTD 110 (6) 4/1910/110 2740 13.3 19.2/27.5 43.5/170 18/28.5 106 114/83 2.8/11.1 399
Mercedes-Benz A170CDi (LWB) (5) 4/1689/95 2630 12.1 17.5/26.1 53/139 30/25 112 110/87 3.7/11.8 378
Nissan Almera Tino 2.2D (5) 4/2184/114 2380 12.6 17.5/29.7 42/168 9/26.5 108 98/71b 3.2/10.7 427
Toyota Corolla Verso 2.0 D-4D (5) 4/1995/89 2960 14.4 16.9/25.2 46/164 14/26 107 100/76 3.2/10.7 424
  b 105/81 as a 4-seater  a 109/85 as a four-seater  ~ maximum seating capacity in brackets

Commanding view, thanks to front seat height adjusters, although wheel only tilts. Clear dials. Remote radio controls excellent, but gearshift rather vague and “clingy”. Heat/air con controls low set.
Languid, low-geared steering and body lean through fast bends confirm that this diesel Scenic is built for comfort not cornering; it’s reasonable agile and wieldy for a family holdall, nevertheless.
Sensible 65-Series tyres and supple suspension make Fidji an easy rider. Comfortable front seats, but those at rear are “cosy”. Ample leg and headroom, though. Manual air con standard, but (two) sunroofs extra.

Engine gives class-average performance, with a lively feel from 2000 to 4500rpm, but it isn’t the smoothest, sweetest diesel you’ll meet – rowdy when revved. Long-legged motorway cruiser, though.
  acceleration in seconds through gears* 3rd gear 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 3.7 6.1 9.9 16.4
  30-50mph 4.8 5.7 8.4 13.6
  40-60mph 6.1 5.9 8.3 13.0
  50-70mph 7.9 9.8 9.2 12.8
  30-70mph 12.7 15.5 17.6 26.4
  max speed in each gear (* using 4500rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th      5th
     speed (mph)      24      44      68      94      109 (4150rpm)

Loping top gear gives impressive motorway economy; elsewhere, mpg - like performance – is about average. Trip computer flatter figures by about 7 per cent, however. Excellent tank range between fill-ups.
    AA test results (mpg)  
    worst (hard/urban) 31  
    best (gentle/rural) 57  
    overall mpg 46  
    realistic tank capacity 54litres  
    realistic tank range 550miles  
    official figures (mpg)
    urban 36.7
    extra urban 57.6
    combined 47.9
    CO2 emissions 157g/km
    car tax band C

Four airbags up front, plus curtain 'bags (giving extra protection front and rear), three-point seatbelts and head restraints all round, and Isofix child seat mounts, help to give Scenic a class-leading 4-star NCAP rating.
  1.4 tested March 2001
  from 50mph (with standard ABS)
front impact     69%
side impact     100%
overall     85%
overall safety rating    
pedestrian rating    
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     30.5m
sudden 14kg     28.5m best stop
+4kg ie 18kg     29m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

Others offer more seats, but versatile Scenic still hugely practical. All back seats slide and are easy to remove and refit – not too heavy, either. Dual-height parcel shelf and opening tailgate window handy.
  in centimetres (5-door MPV)
  length 417
  width - including mirrors 198
    - mirrors folded 173
  height (no roof bars) 160
  load sill height (inside/outside) 3/56
  turns lock-to-lock 3.5
  turning circle (metres) 10.7
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 87-108
    - headroom 94-98s
  rear - typical legroom 102a
    - typical kneeroom 76a
    - headroom 92
    - hiproom 132
  load area
  load space (all seats in use)(litres/cu ft) 385/13.5
  load length 73-165
  full length to facia 250
  load width 105-110
  load height (to shelf/top of aperture) 25 50/91
a 109/85 as a four-seater  s no sunroof

Anti-drill door locks, transponder-controlled immobiliser, etched windows, selectable automatic door locking as you drive off, will deter undesirables. Concealed compartments under back seats for hiding valuables.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior)   
self-locking (drive off)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of" not available
NCSR - "theft from" not available
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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