Renault Scenic

16 Jun 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Renault Scenic

Renault Scenic

(July 2001)

Renault’s Scenic is a family-friendly, five-seater with ticks in all the right boxes, as Rob Smith discovers

WHAT IS IT?

The Scenic Dynamic is Renault’s top spec five-seater family car, and one that the company hopes will find itself in the driveways of family homes all over Australia. Offered in three different guises, the Scenic is priced to impress and I’m tipping that just as it has in Europe, it will.

At the bottom end of the Scenic range is the Expression, which features a 1.6 litre four cylinder engine making 79 kilowatts @ 5750 rpm and 148Nm of torque @ 3750 rpm. Sitting in the middle is the Dynamic, which shares the same power plant as the Privilege, namely the 2.0 litre four cylinder with variable valve timing. This puts out 101 kilowatts and 188Nm @ 3750 rpm.

Both the bigger engines come with auto and manual, while the smaller unit makes do with manual only.

WHAT’S IT GOT?

Where the Scenic scores very highly is in the passenger safety department. The car is in a class of one in offering a total of six airbags for under $30K, four of which protect the driver and front passenger from frontal and side impacts, while the remaining two protect the rear passengers from side impact.

All five seats have pre-tensioned lap and sash belts which is a vital feature in a family car. Antilock braking is by four discs, and an electronic brake distribution system is fitted, which ensures that optimum amount of braking occurs at the back of the vehicle when the brakes are on hard and the weight transfer is on the front.

All members of the Scenic family have a high emphasis on practicality and versatility. To achieve this there are masses of useful storage areas, easy access, and rear seats that foldaway to provide multiple variations of seating and load carrying capability. The rear seats are also easily removable to allow the car to become a van.

The seats themselves are quite heavy to lift, but the ease of removal and replacement goes a long way to the overall friendliness of the system.

The Dynamic also boasts a wealth of gadgets, gizmos and gimmicks including central locking, climate control, fogs, alloys and a CD player. While that level of equipment is impressive, the lack of cruise control is a strange oversight to say the least.

WHAT’S IT DRIVE LIKE?

In terms of performance this car is never going to set the world on fire. The engine feels revvy and is quite happy to let you hold on to the revs but the benefits are questionable and the net result is just going to be more time spent at the servo.

Fuel consumption, which is a major concern these days, came out at 9.8 km/l in the primarily urban driving arena, not bad but could do better.

Renault have made ninety five percent of the engines torque available between 2500 rpm-5500 rpm and the car definitely likes to ride the torque curve. Adequate best sums it up, there’s enough urge to get you off the line quite smartly, and once it’s rolling along in fifth it’s got enough torque to make flat land overtaking stress free. However if there’s a hill on the horizon and all the seats are full, you’re going to need to work the box, as there’s just not enough power to really get up it happily.

As far as the gearbox and clutch goes, the clutch bites very early in the release movement and the box is smooth and nicely precise, displaying little of the typically excessive French sloppiness other cars from the land of garlic and creamy cuisine exhibit.

Road holding and ride quality is another area where the Scenic scores well. Bearing in mind that this ain’t no sports car, and it’s more likely to find itself doing the school run, netball/footy/shopping than carving arcs in the scenery, there’s less body roll than I expected and plenty of feed back via the suspension and through the steering wheel to let the driver know what’s going on.

Secure and forgiving, the general feel is that the cars soft suspension has been well matched to the design brief and the relationship with the chassis is well sorted. In keeping with the family theme, I can see the Scenic scoring well with kids learning to drive.

Driver and passenger comfort is pretty good, with multi adjustable seats that are well elevated, firm and supportive, if a little narrow for the more generously proportioned of humankind. While on the subject of the seats, the height adjusters feel a bit cheap and tacky, as does the drivers fold down arm-rest which when in the down position, obstructs the drivers ability to change gear easily. In the back, the rear seats received positive feedback from our Australian standard sized teenager test crew, who reported that things were well in the comfort department, and the fold down, seat back tables were greatly appreciated.

Spacious and airy, with commendable outside visibility, the cabin itself is pretty quiet, although chasing the afore mentioned revs results in more engine noise than you really need to listen to. Controls are logical and easy to use, with the exception of the radio, which has been designed by someone who obviously will never have to use it.

Adjusting the volume up and down is achieved at the steering wheel but trying to make any other adjustments while driving, as people will, is both difficult and distracting. Not good.

Just as the car rides and drives well, the brakes also add to the overall picture of satisfaction. Strong and controllable with plenty of feel, full on emergency stops can be performed with confidence right up to the point the ABS cuts in.

SUMMING UP

At the current sticker price, the car’s a bargain. Ideal for the young family it’s sure to make a lot of friends with it’s high safety spec and raft of thoughtful features. Probably the only area of discontent is in the performance, as I said adequate, but there’s always the sensation that here’s a car that could do with a few more cubes, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if fuel economy improved a little with a bit more power pulling the thing around.

Apart from that it’s a winner.

Published. Sunday, 1 July 2001

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