► It's the new 2016 Renault Scenic
► A dash of Captur design flair
► Can it help MPV sales recover?
The new Renault Scenic has a simple mission in life: to make us fall in love again with midi-MPVs, the runaway success story of the 1990s.
It's a sector that's exploded and faded in a fashion akin to a firework; sales soared when the first Megane Scenic landed in 1996, only to tail away in the past decade with the rise in popularity of SUVs and crossovers among family buyers.
Hence why the new Scenic, another world debut at the 2016 Geneva motor show, will blend aspects of the two genres. Its people-carrying duty meets soft-roader design aesthetic, pumped up by huge standard-across-the-range 20-inch alloy wheels!
New 2016 Renault Scenic: the facts
The new look, supervised by Renault design chief Laurens van den Acker, undoubtedly takes many cues from the Captur junior SUV, and features the now-familiar prominent Renault diamond on the nose.
Note the stocky stance and raised ride height (both features more regularly deployed on crossovers). And there's a 'three-part windscreen' – similar to that found on the left-hand-drive-only Espace MPV – for a more panoramic view out from the driver's seat, and two-tone paint options, à la Captur.
In Renault’s words, the 'ground clearance has been raised and the rear overhang has been shortened, while a wider track at both the front and rear provide the vehicle with a particularly solid stance.'
Read about the Renault R-Space concept car from 2011, which set the template for new Scenic
Why the big 20in wheels?
‘We very quickly realised that the R-Space concept car’s large wheels were a fundamental part of its perfectly-balanced silhouette and pleasing proportions,’ said exterior designer Jérémie Sommer. ‘After conversations with the engineering department, the idea was adopted for the new Scenic at a very early stage.’ Great for looks, but it'll spell big bills come time for replacement rubber. Still, Renault promises they won’t compromise the ride as their 107mm sidewalls are proportionally equivalent to the old Scenic’s 17in tyres.
The kinked rear windowline and raised 'running board' graphic at the base of the doors give the side profile plenty of wedge, while a chromed hoop running along the A-pillar and entire roofline provides an elegantly arcing top hat to the Scenic. Those C-shaped headlamp graphics are enabled by LED lighting units.
2016 Renault Scenic engine range
Four diesels (dCi 95, dCi 110, dCi 130 and dCi 160) and two petrols (TCe 115 and TCe 130). A diesel-electric ‘Hybrid Assist’ dCi 110 model is on the way too.
The majority of models are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox, although a seven-speed dual-clutch auto is an option on the dCi 110 and the dCi 160 comes with a six-speed dual-clutch as standard.
What kind of equipment do you get for your cash?
The Scenic gets automatic emergency braking system as standard across the range, with pedestrian detection camera tech, and lane keeping assist.
Like the new Renault Megane, there’s a colour head-up display and an 8.7in touchscreen sits in the dash, portrait oriented like a smartphone. The centre console can be slid into two positions, directly beneath the touch screen or slid rearwards to free up space between driver and passenger.
How practical is the new Scenic?
The rear seats fold automatically via a tap on the touchscreen or a switch in the boot for a flat floor, and the front passenger seat back can be folded forward on certain models to form a small table – something of a Scenic tradition.
The second-row seats slide fore and aft, and there are two USB ports for rear passengers, along with a 12V charging socket and an audio jack point.
The Scenic has been a smash hit for Renault, selling nearly 5 million units in the past 20 years but the global MPV market has shrunk in recent years. Is this the Scenic’s last chance?
We expect to see a longer, seven-seat Grand Scenic in late spring, with UK sales due to start by November 2016.
Read more of CAR’s 2016 Geneva motor show coverage here
Click here for CAR’s A-Z guide to the 2016 Geneva motor show