Practical experience Renault Scénic (2016-2023): still a real MPV?

‘The car is the top of the football club’

Renault Scenic

Renault unleashed a true revolution in 1996 with the Scénic. After the brand conquered the market for large MPVs with the Espace, it was now time for a compact midi MPV. Tens of thousands of families fell in love with the practical features of this model, the fifth generation of which recently became Car of the Year. Renault did adapt the concept for this: the new Scénic is more SUV than MPV and only available with electric motors. In this article we look at user experiences of the penultimate Scénic, which is still an MPV.

More than 160,000 Scénics have already found homes in the Netherlands. Especially in the first years, Renault might as well have left the showroom doors open, because it was only in 2007 that Dutch sales figures fell below 10,000 copies per year. More than the fourth generation have been sold in our country. By the way, there is no such thing as one Scénic, because from the second generation Renault offered an extended version under the name Grand Scénic. The brand stuck to this until 2023, but in the latest Scenic you will look in vain for seven seats. This article covers both the ‘short’ Scénic and the Grand Scénic.

Ease of use Renault Scénic

The Renault Scénic is known as a driving memory game. Because in which container or compartment did you put that flashlight again? And where are the plasters when you need them? This also appears to be the case with the last generation. “The passenger seat can be moved back just far enough to prevent a blow to the knees from the drawer,” writes the driver of a Scénic dCi 110 Intens from 2016. Because, indeed, this generation of Scénic does not have a traditional glove compartment but a pull-out drawer. But there’s more. “A huge sliding storage unit between the front seats. Fits everything that needs to go in it. Under the front seat there is also a drawer (for the booklets) and then under the mats also the well-known Scénic compartments in the floor.”

Another rider also experiences this, but for him the convenience of the boxes is overshadowed by a larger problem. “It may have plenty of storage spaces, but the space in the back is too limited. You’ll never get five adults in here comfortably. That Dutch designer may have designed a cool MPV, but those tables on the front seats are a real flaw. This is a car for two adults and two or three children. That problem is much less with the Grand Scénic.” Yet even a Grand Scénic driver is not a fan. “The rear folding tables are great for children, but for adults they are an annoying thing that takes away a lot of legroom”

A TCe 115 owner has a tip for those who are short on space. “If you raise the driver’s seat, you sit like in the first Scénic models, you can put your feet on the back seat under the front seat and you have much more space.” This rider is also not bothered by the folding tables. “I have to say that I don’t have those crazy tables. They really take up space and yield too little.” The owner of a 2017 Grand Scénic dCi 110 Bose decides: “Two extra people/children? Just set up the extra seats, place the luggage cover in the compartment made for this purpose (so don’t leave it lying around in the trunk!) and you’re done. The car is the pinnacle of the football club.”

Seating comfort

We read quite a few complaints about the folding tables in the back, which affect the seating comfort of rear passengers. Fortunately, the driver and front passenger are doing a lot better. “In the front: spacious in length and height,” says the driver of a short Scénic dCi 110 Intens. “Even with my long legs I have no problems with, for example, the gearbox plateau. In the back: legroom is very tight due to the tables present. In height it is good, but in width it is certainly less than the previous Scénic was.” Those damned tables again…

The driver of a Grand Scénic also makes a comment about the width. “The middle seat in the back is a bit tight when a high chair is placed next to it,” he writes. Without the high chair this wouldn’t be a problem, but it is quite wide and extends over the middle seat. If you do not use high chairs, this will not be a problem, otherwise this is something to take into account for long distances.”

The dCi driver also discusses the furniture. “The seats and handlebars can be easily adjusted, so that both tall riders (1.91 meters) and short riders (1.61 meters) find a good seat. Ergonomically, the seat is firm and comfortable. Compared to the Laguna, there is not much lateral support, but a lot better than in the previous Scénic. The seat adjustment lacks a stepless adjustment of the backrest, but otherwise you won’t miss anything.” For stepless adjustment you have to move to higher equipment levels, which is what the next rider did. “The chairs then. They are really comfortable. You can therefore adjust them in all possible positions. Both the seat heating and massage work perfectly and I also like the headrests because you can adjust them laterally.” Yes, the top Initiale Paris seats have a massage function. But, again, you don’t have to choose the top model. “The seats are very comfortable,” says the driver of a Scénic in Zen version. “After eight hours of driving, I came out of the car feeling fit.”

Infotainment and controls

The Renault Scénic is equipped with Renault’s own R-link infotainment system. Depending on the version, with a common, horizontal screen or a larger, vertically oriented screen. “The whole operation of navi and audio takes some getting used to, I would have preferred some hardware shortcuts for certain choices,” writes the driver of a Scénic dCi 110 Bose. The climate control is also controlled via this screen, and that is not to everyone’s satisfaction. “I don’t think the display’s menu is completely perfect,” says a Grand Scénic driver. “You have to ‘swipe’ a lot to the next screen.” He outlines a scenario in which this is not desirable. “If you get into a warm car, the air conditioning turns on full power including the associated wind noise, but if your phone rings at the same time, you have to search and ‘swipe’ to make the wind blow softer.”

It’s not all doom and gloom. A third diesel driver can now make good use of it. “The R-link system is really starting to get used to,” he writes. “I do notice that you unknowingly change channels again and that you take your eyes off the road. And yet you don’t have to hold the phone in your hand if Android Auto is properly connected.” This last condition seems remarkable, but it is not simply stated. “Despite a good cable, the connection is very sensitive and can be disconnected in no time.” A complaint that we note from more drivers.

On the road with the Scénic

They have long proven that the French know how to make a chassis. But what about this Scénic, which is equipped with relatively narrow, but 20-inch wheels as standard? “The comfort is certainly good,” says a Scénic TCe 115 driver, “although the suspension is quite firm for a French car. I like this myself, but I can imagine that the spring behavior is not your thing. I like a car that gives some feedback and it does enough, including in the steering wheel. You don’t have to buy this car for old-fashioned French suspension comfort,” he concludes.

“In terms of driving, it is still a very nice car, which despite its weight and dimensions has surprisingly good road holding,” says the driver of a Grand Scénic TCe 140. The good road holding is also emphasized by a dCi driver. “The car is very quiet up to about 140 thanks to the seventh gear and is also very stable, so a very nice travel car. The handling is also very good when loaded and higher speeds are hardly noticeable.”

The driver of a 160 hp petrol version does have reservations about the tires. “Given the high torque, I would have liked to see some wider tires on it. There is so much power on those narrow tires that slipping when taking off is not a problem.” Followed by a bit of nuance: “Of course this is also up to you :)”

A dCi 110 Bose driver also experiences that the black rubber is important. “It’s the tires!” he shouts. “All the negative experiences I described above expire. Aquaplaning, sometimes creaking, less refined handling than the Skoda Superb… It’s the tires. The Renault is fitted with Goodyear EfficientGrip in the summer and Continental Wintercontact TS860 in the winter. What a difference. I now have a nice driving car that no longer suffers from aquaplaning and no longer understeers on damp roads, let alone in the rain. And it is quieter and drives softer. Leave the Goodyears aside and you have a true limousine.”

Maintenance, malfunctions and irritations

Sifting through the reviews reveals two obvious annoyances. One is noise from the front axle, caused by play on the reaction arms of the stabilizer bar. “The chassis made quite a bit of noise,” writes an owner after just under 70,000 kilometers, “and I also found the steering behavior very unstable. For the first time I had some serious concerns about the car. Fortunately, the problem was found and resolved very quickly. It appears to be typical wear and tear for this model. There is play on the original stabilizer bars, causing a banging/rumbling sound.”

With a second driver the problem occurred before 50,000 km. “In February the car was allowed into the dealer for regular maintenance and annual inspection,” he writes. “Both exterior mirrors were then repaired as they no longer folded or only folded halfway when leaving the car. Both stabilizer bars were replaced at the end of July, the car was just an old junk car.” With this he immediately draws attention to the second common problem: the automatically folding exterior mirrors sometimes refuse to work over time.

One driver faced greater suffering: the automatic EDC transmission was replaced several times. The complaint: “On the cruise control at approximately 100 km/h, the speed went up and down by about 300 revolutions. After investigation it turned out that this was in the EDC gearbox. There is a hydraulic pump in each clutch plate and one of the two varies in pressure, creating the above effect.” Unfortunately for this driver, the problem reappears after about 180,000 kilometers, causing him to say goodbye to the car early.

Apart from this major problem and some minor irritations, the Scénic is doing very well. Although some users note that its predecessor was more spacious, it remains as flexible as ever, especially if you choose the Grand Scénic as a seven-seater. The space-consuming folding tables on the front seats were not a smart move, and we no longer see them in the ‘new’. The fourth generation Scénic reportedly drives remarkably well. It is not so much French comfortable, but convinces with stable handling and the peace and quiet on board. Especially when the right tires are installed.

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