Renault has gone sexy. There is no other word for it. In a bid to increase the appeal of its multi-purpose vehicles against the onslaught of chunky crossovers, the French company has given its new Scenic models a bit of oh la la.
It has raised the style factor inside and outside the car. Most noticeable are huge 20in diameter wheels that rival those on a Bentley but to keep down running costs, and help ride comfort, the wheels are not skinny rubber bands like you find on high performance cars. It looks a bit strange at first from some angles but the overall effect is wow!
And because the tyres are not super low profile, the depth of the tyre wall is 107mm; you should get less wear because they rotate less. Renault claims the price will be comparable with more norma17in wheels.
You could argue the company is hedging its bets a bit because the new Scenic does ride higher than before, and has more ground clearance, which gives it more of an SUV stance like its sister model, the Renault Kadjar.
The Scenic would not be a modern Renault without a tablet computer style display to the left of the usual instruments as the dashboard is now a conventional one with dials in front of the driver rather than £€˜on the horizon£€™ under the bottom of the window as with the previous model.
Helping you keep your eyes on the road rather than glued to the speedometer is an aircraft style £€˜head-up£€™ display and you can adjust the responses of the accelerator pedal, engine response and weight of steering as well as lighting ambience and colours.
Drivers can flip between sport, comfort, eco and perso (personal?) driving modes. If that isn£€™t enough there are neutral, sport and comfort engine sounds. More practically, the backs of the front seats fold down electrically for easy loading but you have to pull them up yourself as the cost and weight of motors to do it would be too expensive. Front seat passengers fare well, but rear ones might have to compromise if both front seat passengers are tall. The boot is up with the best in class and in proper MPV fashion there is a sliding centre console with 13 litres of load space volume. There are compartments under the front seats and rear seat floor. The glove box slides out like a cabinet.
The Scenic comes with choice of two 1.2 litre turbo charged petrol engines and four 1.6 litre diesels. Power outputs range from 95bhp to 158bhp.
Scenic prices start at £21,445 for the Expression + petrol 115 version but we chose a Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 for our first experience of the new model. That costs £25,445 but luxury options including metallic paint, full LED headlights, hands free parking, adaptive cruise control and seven-speaker Bose stereo pushed it up to £28,080.
A top speed of 114mph from only 108bhp emphasises the car£€™s sleek shape. The Scenic is quite brisk off the mark and on the open road it is a pretty nimble car, but you have to be prepared to work it quite hard via the six-speed manual transmission if fully loaded.
The Scenic turns into corners without too much body lean and you only hear the big tyres on harsh surfaces. Insurance has dropped seven groups compared with previous models. Fuel consumption, with two drivers of different styles, averaged 50.5 mpg.
Consider also: Citroen C4 Picasso, BMW 2 Grand Tourer, Volkswagen Touran, Vauxhall Zafira Tourer.
Verdict Brings glamour to SUVs. Who would have thought it?