Renault Megane Scenic Estate 2003 - 2006

Renault Megane Scenic Estate 2003 - 2006

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Spacious and practical
  • Good value for money
  • Higher than usual safety standards
  • Economical engines

Cons:

  • Not a lot of fun to drive
  • Awkward controls and inconvenient gear lever

Overview

The 2nd generation Scenic is a good improvement on the 1st edition and although it has undergone significant design changes, it is not as 'wacky' as its hatch-back cousin the Megane.The mini MPV market has changed since the first Scenic appeared in 1996. The 2nd generation Scenic is much more family oriented offering space and practicality. It has also lost some of the annoying faults and shortcomings that the old model had.

Exterior and Interior

It follows the newly established Renault design guidelines and moves away from the rather hippy first generation Meganes. The French engineers have done a lot to make the car appear as normal as possible as they feared that the Scenic might follow the 2002 Megane's fate (it received sever criticism regarding its rear end design). The objective was to create a car that would appeal to as many people as possible. As a result, the Scenic looks modern, but it lacks all the unnecessary idiosyncrasies of some recent French models. The Scenic has sufficient space to ensure the comfort of passengers. The basic model is a 5-seater but there's an addition to the range with the 7-seater Grand Scenic. It fills the gap between the 5-seater and the much bigger and more expensive Renault Espace. Calling the Grand Scenic a proper 7-seater would be an exaggeration though. The rear row of seats is only really good for children. On a positive side, the 2nd generation has added a good number of hidden storage compartments, causing a nightmare if the kids decide to hide things. The car must also be an insolvable maze for a person who tends to lose things, there are large storage compartments underneath each individual seat, there are pockets of various sizes all around the interior and there are several hidden compartments located in the front part of the cabin. It's also a very versatile car. The seats are separate (apart from the driver's seat) and can be moved or folded to create a flat surface that can be used as a table. The seats can slide forward and back or they can be removed from the cabin creating a good luggage space. The Scenic is a comfortable car and also a safe one. Lately Renault has put a strong emphasis on safety and the crash test star ratings reflect that. The Scenic has received five stars meaning it is a very safe car for the family and this will make it very popular with parents who have to transport children often.

Performance and Economy

The entry level 1.4-litre petrol engine develops close to 100bhp and will not struggle with the car, even if it is fully loaded. However, in the used car market, where the price is not largely affected by the engine size, the 1.4-litre option doesn't make much sense mainly because there are much better options. The 1.6-litre engine with variable valve timing provides extra power and is more economical than the smaller engine. The 1.6-litre unit is capable of returning 39mpg. For that extra power, you can choose a 2.0-litre variant which will still provide decent economy at 35mpg. As for the diesel options, both are really good. The smaller diesel may feel out of power on highways but its 56mpg fuel economy allows a very frugal lifestyle. The 1.9-litre option, whose character is as lively as that of a petrol engine, can return 48mpg.

Like to Drive

The toning-down theme continues when it comes to driveability. It almost feels as if the car was too active and the engineers decided to make it a bit blunter to discourage enthusiastic driving. The first thing that you notice behind the wheel is that you cannot find the right setup between the seat and steering adjustments to enable you feel comfortable. Secondly, the dashboard, now executed in the same UFO Espace style, makes it difficult to read the dials so eventually you just stop bothering and try to follow your intuition. Glancing sideways to the over-sophisticated central column is clearly an inconvenience. The Scenic is a very quiet and meek family car and even its gearbox lever has been designed in a way to prevent you from switching through the gears in a brisk manner. Fast driving is possible, but then you'd have to take the engine too close to the red line, which means excessive noise, wear and tear. On a positive side, the car provides good ride quality, there's plenty of grip and the steering system is pleasantly responsive.

Faults and Repairs

It does not take a lot of money to get the Renault Scenic or to keep the MPV on the road. In fact, the low maintenance cost of the Scenic MPV is one of the main points of attraction towards this car. The few electronic faults or localised interior failures are easy to solve. All in all the Renault Scenic is a highly reliable car.