Fleet News

Renault Scenic

Renault

Review

##renscen.jpg --Right##SINCE its introduction here in early 1997, Renault has sold 68,000 Scenics in the UK underlining the popularity of a concept that, at its launch, had no direct rivals. And only now, with Vauxhall's new Zafira, has Renault encountered any real rivalry in the niche - and its response has been a comprehensive makeover of the range.

New Scenic is on sale now with prices that undercut the old model. For example, the volume-selling 1.6 16v Alize costs £1,825 less than the 2.0 model it replaces with extra equipment. Key to the changes has been a conscious effort to make the Scenic a brand in its own right, with revised badging on the tailgate stating simply 'Renault Scenic'. With this repositioning comes a radically restyled front and rear, new engines, revised interior trim and a wider range, which aims to broaden the Scenic's appeal.

The number one criticism of the old Scenic was a lack of power, so in place of the old eight-valve 90bhp 1.6 and 115bhp 2.0-litre petrol units are new 1.4 95bhp 16-valve, 1.6 110bhp 16-valve and 2.0-litre 140bhp 16-valve petrol engines. There's also a new direct injection 1.9-litre turbodiesel developing the same 100bhp as the old 1.9-litre indirect injection unit, but offering greater refinement, cleaner emissions and improved economy - up from 45.6mpg combined to 47.9mpg. Renault's Proactive automatic transmission is available as an option on 1.6, 1.9dTi and 2.0 cars.

Eight trim levels significantly increase the range: these are Scenic 16v and 16v SR (1.4 only), RT, Alize, Sport (with 1.4, 1.6 or 1.9dTi engines), Sport Alize, RXE and Monaco (with 1.6, 2.0 and 1.9dTi engines only). The idea is to create a 'range without options', with enhanced trim giving better value and a host of new features fitted as standard on all models. These include double-optic headlamps, electric front windows, electric door mirrors, height adjustable driver's seat and steering wheel, remote hi-fi and a sliding rear centre seat. Innovations include a drinks cooler cubby at the foot of the centre stack on Alize models up and an opening tailgate window on RXE upwards.

Four airbags for driver and front seat passenger, ABS with disc brakes on all four wheels, three-point seatbelts on all seats, with load limiters on all four outer seatbelts plus triple rear head restraints as standard across the range enhance the Scenic's NCAP-topping safety performance, while drive-off locking of all doors, a transponder immobiliser and remote locking improve security.

On the road, the driving experience is much improved, the new engines providing useful extra performance. The volume-selling 1.6, for example, now has a top speed of 115mph with 0-62mph in 11.2secs compared with 106mph and 13.7secs for the old car. At the same time, economy is up from 34.4mpg for the old 1.6 to 38.7mpg for the new 1.6 16v. The stiffer suspension also brings benefits to the ride and handling, with less roll on cornering and a more controlled ride when laden. The all-disc brakes are more reassuring, giving powerful stopping power and firmer pedal feel, which complements the ABS, now standard across the range.

Overall, the changes are welcome. Together with the keen pricing they mean Scenic now offers the widest range, the most powerful engine and the broadest price span in its class, ample ammunition with which to tackle the Zafira, Mazda Premacy and the plethora of other mini-MPVs which are scheduled for launch within the next year.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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