Renault Scenic Conquest dCi 130
SUV-like styling add a new dimension to the Renault Scenic's looks
- It's competitive priced against its rivals
- Decent levels of standard equipment
- Provides a smooth and refined drive
- The flexible 1.9 dCi range of diesel engines
- Only has five seats, whereas some of its rivals offer seven
- Steering not sharp and lacks feedback
- Limited off road ability
- Chunky SUV-style exterior won't appeal to everyone
The Scenic Conquest is not trying to be an SUV with off-road ability but instead tries to combine the space and practicality of an MPV with the styling of an SUV. Renault says it is aimed at customers with a passion for leisure pursuits but its versatility means it is just as likely to appeal to urban families.
The Conquest is easily distinguishable due to its higher ground clearance and exterior styling. Twin skidplates have been fitted to protect the underbody while a number of practical design features, such as a protective black graphite coating on the lower part of the bumper, dark lens headlamps, 16-inch alloy wheels, chunky rubbing strips to protect the side bodywork and longitudinal roof bars finished in chrome and black set it aside from other Scenics.
Available with a choice of four engines - two petrol and two diesel - the 1.9 dCi diesels offer the most flexibility with a wide powerband and plenty of mid-range punch. The diesels are both refined and economical and well suited to the car's suspension set-up, which is more supple over rough terrain than a regular Scenic and gives the Conquest a comfortable ride over poorly made roads.
The chassis has also been stiffened and the car copes well tackling potholes. The fact that the Conquest isn't a 4x4 obviously means that its owners are restricted in their choice of driving routes, although Renault states that the car offers the best of both SUV and MPV worlds, as it is not weighed down by the bulk of a 4WD system.
The Conquest leans when cornering although the car has good grip on the road and remains composed through fast corners. The changes in the car's set-up have also improved the ride on tarmac. However the steering isn't that responsive; it lacks feedback and doesn't offer the driver a particularly engaging experience. The car's excellent road manners and family-friendly attitude more than make up for this.
Our verdict on the Renault Scenic Conquest dCi 130
The Scenic Conquest is able to provide the best bits of owning an SUV, for example the styling, visibility and practicality, without the costs of running a 4x4 both in terms of space, fuel economy and emissions. The fact that it resembles an SUV is just a bonus, as realistically its off-road ability is restricted. Buy the Scenic Conquest if you want a practical family car with the looks and lofty driving position of a 4x4 but don't want to pay SUV-like running costs.
Renault is known for offering competitively priced deals on its cars, and the Conquest is competitively priced from the outset. Running costs should be less than a comparable all-wheel drive SUV, thanks in part to lower insurance ratings and greater fuel economy.
Space and practicality
The cabin features numerous storage areas front and rear while a folding front passenger seat back with integrated aircraft-style tables adds a useful touch. The rear seats can slide forward, back, be folded or be completely removed easily and independently of each other. There are underfloor storage compartments, handy for hiding valuables, and the boot space has a capacity of 406-litres, which extends to 1840 litres with the rear seats folded.
Controls and display
The steering wheel-mounted controls mean the driver can access most functions without taking their hands off the wheel, which is just as well as the stereo control buttons quite small. The main display is laid out in the centre of the dashboard and is simple and easy to read at a glance.
The seats are firm but comfortable, with height and lumbar adjustment on the driver's side. There is ample legroom in the rear although headroom could be improved. Air conditioning is part of the standard equipment but a 'comfort pack' adding an electric panoramic sunroof, Renault Card ands-free entry and start, electrically folding mirrors, footwell lighting and so on is available at extra cost.
An insurance approved alarm system and engine immobiliser are fitted as standard. The central locking system locks the doors when on the move for added peace of mind. Discreet storage options allow occupants to keep their valuables and possessions hidden from view when in the cabin.
The Scenic range has scored well in crash tests, which makes it an ideal family car for the safety-conscious. It is also equipped with ABS and EBD, traction control and a full complement of airbags. ISOFIX child seat mountings points are fitted on the front passenger and rear outer seats.
With the right choice of engine, the Conquest delivers a smooth, refined and supple ride ideal for acting as the main mode of transport for a family. Steering is not very sharp and could do with more feedback, which means that although it's easy to drive it's not particularly rewarding. The high driving position affords the driver good visibility when off- or on-road.
Family car appeal
The Scenic Conquest's ability to accommodate passengers and cargo easily, its balance between an MPV and SUV and its excellent safety record should appeal to a wide range of families. Although its lack of a four-wheel drive system might restrict the choice of location for family outings, the plus side is that it provides lower running costs than a conventional off-roader.
First car appeal
New drivers that require a roomy and practical mid-size MPV with stylish looks should consider the Conquest. Its insurance rating is lower than some of its competitors and in diesel form it's especially frugal. However its remote steering and lack of all-round good visibility are not ideal for first time drivers.
Quality and image
Build quality is solid and the cabin is stylish thanks to colourful design features and a soft touch finish. In the past, the Scenic has done well in customer satisfaction surveys although some owners have reported problems with controls, heating and ventilation. There is no high-level status associated with this model - that is reserved for the likes of Volkswagen's Touran.
The inclusion of the familiar 'Renault Card' makes this a completely keyless entry car, which is a neat touch. However its raised ride height of 20mm over the standard Scenic means some drivers may find the driving seat quite high. An opening tailgate window is available as an option although the doors and boot open wide to provide easy access into the car.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
A RDS radio/single CD with six speakers is fitted as standard. Further options include MP3 compatibility, and a dash mounted or underseat six-disc CD changer. A turn-by-turn satellite navigation system is also available. The stereo is fine at low speeds but competes with wind noise that penetrates the cabin at high speeds.
Colours and trim
The Conquest is available in a wide range of colours, although Cayenne Orange is exclusive to this model. Splashes of orange design details liven up the dark cabin with contrast stitching, orange seatbelts and contour lines on the dash. Renault has managed to avoid an overly plastic looking cabin and the upholstery should be able to cope with transporting a variety of cargo in addition to children.
Based on the Dynamique trim level, the Scenic Conquest adds extra equipment such as rear parking sensors, which will be invaluable for urban driving. Larger wing mirrors would be more in keeping with its SUV characteristics and more useful, especially considering the rear pillars are quite chunky and partially block visibility.
An space saver spare wheel is fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.6-litre VVT (111bhp); 2.0-litre (136bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.5-litre dCi (106bhp); 1.9-litre (130bhp). Transmission options: All versions come with six-speed manual transmission as standard. Conquest is a standalone trim level.
Mitsubishi Outlander Proper off-roading talent supported by MPV-like practicality
Volkswagen Touran Offers more flexibility and has seven seats but is more expensive
Toyota Verso A seven-seater with excellent build quality but lacking character
Ford C-Max Five-seater Ford can't match a regular MPV although it does have sporty driving characteristics