From Paris with love: 2016 Renault Scenic promises to make mini-MPVs desirable again

Published: 05 October 2015

► New 2016 Renault Scenic spyshots
Debut at 2016 Geneva show in March
► ‘It needs reinvention’, says design chief

The original Renault Scenic (or Megane Scenic as it was first known) was something genuinely fresh, leading the (school-run) charge of the then-new compact MPV class. Since then it’s become steadily less interesting, as fickle family buyers continue to flock to en vogue crossovers, or downsize to ever-roomier hatchbacks.

That’s not just our opinion; Renault’s design chief Laurens van den Acker, never one to mince his words, recently told CAR’s editor Phil McNamara he believes the Scenic is in need of a conceptual rethink:

‘For me the minivan needs reinvention, it’s a little passé. Minivans look like the parents don’t love each other anymore, like you’ve become a driver for your kids. Renault not making minivans would be a crime, so we’re going to try to make a minivan that makes it look like the parents are in love.’

So, this is our first sighting of the new, more amorous kind of small Renault MPV – the new-for-2016 Scenic, spied on secret test in one of continental Europe sunnier corners.

2016 Renault Scenic: what’s new?

Due to be officially revealed at the 2016 Geneva motor show in March, the new Scenic will reach showrooms towards the end of 2016. The established Megane-Scenic relationship continues, as the new Scenic will share its floorpan with the latest-generation Megane family. That’s Renault’s latest-generation CMF (Common Module Family) platform, the fruit of ongoing engineering collaboration with Nissan. You’ll find similar building blocks under the skin of the Nissan Pulsar, for example. The Scenic’s engine range will also be shared with the new Megane.

As before, both seven- and five-seater variants will be available.

Click here for the latest details on the 2016 Renault Megane.

Other mini-MPVs have been morphing into crossovers recently – is the Scenic going to follow suit?

The likes of Vauxhall’s Meriva and Zafira and Peugeot’s 3008 will have a more SUV-oriented design direction when their next generations reach the market, but Renault is sticking with a more traditional silhouette for the Scenic.

‘Don’t forget we’ve got the Kadjar [in the Renault range] too,’ van den Acker told CAR, ‘so it should [still] look like a minivan in the end.’

Nonetheless, the wide track and relatively low roofline of the car pictured here make the new Scenic a rather more athletic-looking proposition than its upright predecessors. Expect plenty of LEDs up front, in the vein of the new Megane, and a swoopy grille treatment as per the Kadjar. Enough to make us fall in love with the Scenic again? We’ll find out when the disguise comes off next year…

Click here to read CAR’s review of the current Renault Scenic, in high-riding XMOD spec.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer