Renault famously brought the idea of MPVs to Europe with its Espace, though the smaller Scenic was the massive sales hit. Based on the underpinnings of the Mégane hatchback, the Scenic follows the MPV recipe to the letter - it adds a spacious, tall monospace body on top to maximise practicality. This Scenic is the second generation model, introduced in 2004 and running to 2009 - before it was replaced with a comprehensively facelifted car.
Not as revolutionary as its pioneering predecessor, the Scenic II remains a thoroughly competent and desirable family car. Bigger than the first Scenic there's more cubbies and stowage areas than anyone could ever need. The seats all slide individually, allowing lots of interior versatility, while those needing more than the Scenic II's standard five seats can opt for the Grand Scenic, which adds another pair in the boot.
The engine range is extensive, encompassing everything from 1.4-, 1.6-, 2.0- and 2.0-litre turbo petrol engines and a trio of diesels of 1.5-, 1.9- and 2.0-litre capacities. The model mix in the classifieds seems to be made up of the smaller petrol engines mixed in with occasional diesels. The 1.6-litre petrol only offers a 10hp advantage over the 1.4-litre unit, though if you want an automatic then the bigger engine is the only choice. That's true with the diesels, too, where the lower power, smaller capacity engines are only offered with manual transmissions.
Inside, the Scenic is light and airy and the cabin is well designed, though the plastics can wear badly with hard use so look for well-cared for examples. Specifications are as expansive as the engine choice, Renault offering a huge variety of trim levels. Thankfully even the entry-level models come with almost everything you could possibly want, though be sure to have a good look around the dash at all the buttons to know exactly what you're getting.
It won't set your pulse racing with its performance, but the 1.4 100hp petrol manual model is a perfectly good all-rounder. If you're going for the Grand Scenic (and likely to fill all seven seats regularly) then one of the more powerful diesels will suit, but for the majority of buyers a regular 1.4 Scenic is just the job.
Renault Scenic 1.4 petrol
Engine: 1,390cc four-cylinder petrol
Maximum speed: 174km/h
0-100km/h: 14.3 seconds
Fuel consumption: 7.4 litres/100km
Euro NCAP: ***** (2004)
- Usefully spacious
- Smart styling inside and out
- High driving position
- Hard interior wear and tear
- Questionable reliability
- Emissions not great
The Renault Scenic is a useful, spacious family car for those wanting lots of room on a budget. The only concerns might be poor reliability with advancing years and the fact that emissions are high - as a result of the Scenic's age.