► Stylish new MPV tested
► Supermodel looks and practical interior
► Does it drive as well as it looks?
A sensible family people carrier on 20in alloy wheels? Madness, you might think. That hasn’t stopped Renault fitting these enormous rims to every single model in the new Scenic (and Grand Scenic) line-up. They’re even bigger than the original R-Space concept car from 2011.
It certainly looks like a concept car…
We’d go as far as saying it’s the best looking MPV out there. It’s well-proportioned and Renault’s latest family face has been grafted onto a practical people carrier template rather successfully.
Its cause is helped by some bright colours and contrasting roof and mirrors available higher up the range, and it’s refreshing that even entry-level models enjoy the bigger alloys too.
And what about the interior?
Equally futuristic. Models like the Dynamique S Nav we tested come with Renault’s new portrait touchscreen infotainment system and slick digital dials. They’re easy to use, make the Scenic feel properly modern and change colour depending on the driving mode you’re in, so your inner child may be pleased if you like to personalise.
There are fewer clever storage spaces than a Citroen C4 Picasso, but there are some appealing details, including a big storage bin between the (exceptionally comfortable) front seats that can be slid back and forth.
There’s also the obligatory set of USB charging ports to keep your nearest and dearest’s numerous devices topped up with juice, while the rear seats can be folded at the tap of a ‘button’ on the touchscreen (how modern), or from the boot. Said boot is also bigger than the C4 Picasso’s at 572 litres.
There’s plenty of space, with endless adjustment for the seats in both rows, while a huge glass roof makes the cabin feel incredibly airy.
Back to those wheels – does it crash into every bump in the road?
You might think so, and it is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to comfort. On a smooth road it’s a relaxed affair and road noise is well suppressed. However, come to rougher piece of tarmac or broken surface and the Scenic fidgets and becomes unsettled.
For a set of 20-inch wheels, it’s a comfortable ride. For a comfort-oriented family car, it trails its Citroen Piccaso rival, which rides very well indeed.
Where the Scenic claws back some ground is the way it handles. Body control is adept, so you don’t have to worry about spilled drinks and foodstuffs if you take corners ‘enthusiastically’.
With a modest 108bhp from the 1.5-litre diesel engine it’s not the fastest, but it’s punchy thanks to 192lb ft of torque. Overtaking manoeuvres will require some planning but it’ll be quick enough for most.
Will it cost much to run?
Claimed fuel economy of 72.4mpg is moderately ambitious (we managed around 50mpg on a two-hour drive), while CO2 emissions of 100g/km mean you don’t have to spend a penny on road tax.
Consider how dull a practical people carrier has the potential to be, and the Renault Scenic’s styling is something of a triumph. It really could be confused with a concept car, and feels an upmarket and interesting thing inside, too.
Renault has managed to inject a good dollop of desirability into a sector that’s all about practicality and thinking with your head, with an MPV that’s more likely to pull at your heartstrings than most.