Renault Scenic And Grand Scenic
by Tom Stewart (15 February 2012)
For those not employed by Renault or one of its franchised dealers, the Scenic/Grand Scenic story might already seem a little confusing. So, before introducing the new, New Scenic and the new, New Grand Scenic, let's start with a brief recap of what's what and when.
Based on the Megane and pioneering the compact MPV sector, the first Scenic was introduced in 1996. Aside from being voted European Car of the Year the following year, it went on to sell in great number. The second-generation Scenic II followed in 2003, and, with revisions in 2006, this was joined by the longer-wheelbase, seven-seat Grand Scenic that same year.
2009 saw the introduction of the New Scenic and New Grand Scenic, and now 2012 sees both models revised once again. Were they computer software products they'd probably and more accurately be known as Scenic version 3.1 and Grand Scenic version 2.1, but that's maybe a discussion for another time.
So what's new for 2012? Well, the Scenic is 80mm longer with a 20mm longer wheelbase, while the Grand Scenic is 62mm longer with a 34mm longer wheelbase, as well as being 9mm taller and 26mm wider, all of which allows for improved cabin space in both. Both have been treated to a complete front-end restyle, with a new bonnet, wings, bumper and headlights.
Additionally, their windscreens are larger, their rear light clusters are new and there is now just one spec level – Dynamique TomTom. Prices range from £18,325 to £22,725, excluding any options.
The six-engine line-up for both models includes two new units, the 110hp 1.5 dCi and the 115hp 1.2 TCe, but the latter won't come on-stream until April. The 1.5 dCi Scenic I drove was also equipped with Renault's Efficient Dual Clutch automatic transmission. Although adding some 29kg to the car's kerb weight, the six-speed EDC version manages 124g/km of CO2 and 60.1mpg on the combined cycle, which compares favorably with the 128g/km and 57.6mpg of the six-speed manual.
The flip side is that, even with just two people aboard and no luggage, the 1.5 dCi with EDC feels pretty unenergetic. Press the pedal to the floor and not much happens, and what does happen takes quite a long time. Hurried overtaking is not this car's forté, and with 0-62mph in 13.4 secs, or over a second longer than the manual version, you wouldn't take a 1.5 dCI EDC Scenic to the drag strip either.
I didn't drive a Grand Scenic so equipped, but with 0-62 in 14.3 secs and presumably an even more lethargic on-road demeanor, I don't suppose I missed much.
On a far more positive note, I did drive a Grand Scenic manual with the top-of-the-range Stop & Start 130hp 1.6 dCi. Despite being that much bigger and a little over 100kg heavier than the 1.5 EDC, it feels significantly more energetic. This is reflected in its 11.1-second 0-62 time, but as an added bonus there's no price to pay in terms of emissions or fuel consumption, which at 114g/km and 64.2mpg are both superior to the 1.5 dCi's, with or without the EDC transmission.
That said, for the ultimate in Scenic/Grand Scenic greenness, the 1.5 dCi manual with Stop & Start manages 105g/km and 68.9mpg combined, but the extra power of the 1.6 motor would very definitely be worth the extra £1100 it costs to buy.
Although not connected, the Scenic 1.5 dCi I drove had a constantly irritating buzzing in the dashboard that no amount of Fonz-style thumping would cure. My Grand Scenic however, which is identical in the front, suffered no such affliction.
Actually, "dashboard" is too dated a word to use there, as the Scenics have four or five separate instrument and control clusters, the uppermost of which has an impressive digital colour LCD displays for speed, economy and more, plus of course the satnav guidance if fitted.
Other than that, the Scenic's interior is unremarkable by current standards. There is a little more kneeroom for rear- (Scenic) or middle-row (Grand Scenic) passengers, although the two-seat third row in the Grand Scenic (which folds neatly into the floor) offers minimal kneeroom even with the middle row seats slid fully forward, and so in common with other compact seven-seater MPVs it's for smallish children only.
To obtain maximum loadspace the rear (or middle) seats have to lifted out and removed, but the inconvenience of this is offset by more space and less weight when you are in fully-loaded van mode.
Staying faithful to the tradition started by the Espace of 1984, both Scenics boast a plethora of oddments stowage space, and Renault lists about 45 features that come as standard. If that's not enough then there are various option packs which include additional goodies and high-tech gadgetry.
Following back-to-back drives in both Scenics over a varied test route I've nothing negative to report concerning steering, ride or handling. The steering is well-weighted and acceptably communicative. The ride, with two people aboard, is also perfectly acceptable, and, despite the cold and damp conditions, there's decent grip along with good body control in corners.
In short, the 2012 Scenics provide pretty much everything you'd expect of a family MPV, but they're not the most entertaining or exciting to drive and, subjectively, nor are they the most pleasing aesthetically. But as with previous Scenics, they remain both highly practical and versatile. If you can negotiate a good deal, then you could do worse.