After two weeks with a pair of new cars – first the Renault Megane Sport Tourer and then the Renault Grand Scenic
Neil Lyndon gives his verdict, Renault have got their style mojo back
Both cars are sensuously satisfying in their appearance, fully matching up to Renault’s long traditions as a chic and tasteful mass manufacturer. Banished into the fires of hell, thank God, are the gruesome aberrations of the past when Patrick le Quement was in charge of Renault design and saddled the company’s products with those grisly duck’s arse tails (gone but, clearly, neither forgotten nor forgiven).
Instead, the Megane Sport Tourer is now, hands-down, the most elegant family estate car on the market and the Scenic is an equally clear stand-out winner for design originality among compact MPVs. If their driving dynamics were fully a match for their looks and if the cloud of suspicion that has hung around Renault’s reliability for decades were to be blown away, these cars would be almost irresistible.
We’re not going to dwell for long on the Megane in this review because, of the two cars, the Scenic is by far the more innovative and interesting.
Even so, the Megane Sport Tourer deserves proper notice as a serious contender for anybody in the market for a family estate. Its carrying capacity may not be so cavernous nor so adaptable as a Skoda Octavia’s; its handling may not be so needle-sharp as a Ford Focus estate; the six-speed manual gearbox may not be so precise and slick as the Seat Leon’s, but the Renault is more comfortable, better equipped in standard forms and cheaper than most rivals. It is also better looking to about the same extent as Louise Redknapp is easier on the eye than Jamie. Anybody who can close their eyes to the findings of J.D. Power surveys or the listings for warranty claims on Warranty Direct might feel that they’ve picked up a genuine original in the Megane Sport Tourer.
The same can be said, with knobs on, for the new Scenic. This is not just the best-looking MPV that has come our way this year: it’s one of the best-looking cars of any type.
It’s difficult to write about the Scenic because the fingers traversing the keyboard keep automatically trying to type the word “Espace”. This Scenic is 20mm wider, 40mm longer and with a wheelbase 32mm longer than the last Scenic. It is also so much longer than the original 1996 compact MPV that set the trend for that kind of vehicle even exceeding the measurements of the original 1984 Espace which, similarly, set the mould for large MPVs. While Mars bars keep getting more expensive at the same time as the content of the wrapper reduces, new cars keep getting more and more expensive in order to justify their expanded dimensions. Recently I reviewed a glorious BMW 5 Series Touring that was closer to the size of a 7 Series, just ten years ago, and also cost more than that 7 Series. The new Scenic is an Espace in all but name.
Terrific it is, too. Just as the Megane Sport Tourer knocks all other contemporary mid-size states into a cocked hat for styling, so the Scenic makes all (so-called) compact MPVs look about as exciting as your uncle’s Christmas pullover. Here is a piece of work with the confidence to stand out from the crowd and the composure to carry off the performance.
The sharp elegance of the exterior is matched by vastly improved interior styling (though the Volvo-like, tablet-size multimedia screen is fiddly and erratic in operation), lavish equipment levels and nifty, one-touch rear-seat folding operation.
Like all versions in the range, the Grand Scenic Dynamique S Nav dCi 130 we borrowed rides on 20” wheels with multiple spokes so flash they could pass muster on Brixton Road on a Friday evening but do not help the handling to feel less lumpy. The 1600 cc engine is best praised for its economy – which worked out at over 50 mpg for the week of the loan – rather than its performance, which is roughly on the level of our house Dacia Duster. Driving dynamics have a floaty-boaty feel, almost as if the car is swinging on its mooring through a slowly turning tide.
Despite these drawbacks and the reservations about the reliability of the Megane Sport Tourer which must equally apply in this case, the new Scenic was a delight to borrow and a joy to use. My whole family were sorry to see it go.
Car reviewed: Renault Grand Scénic Dynamique S Nav dCi 130 – Recommended On the road £28605 with options £31265 0-62mph 11.4 secs Top speed 118mph Fuel Economy combined 61.4mpg CO2 emissions 119g/km Engine 1600cc 4-cylinder diesel Max Power 130HP@4000 rpm Torque 320Nm@1750rpm Transmission 6-speed manual
Car reviewed: Renault Mégane Sport Tourer Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 – Recommended On the road £22990 with option £25640 0-62mph 11.3 secs Top speed 116mph Fuel Economy combined 76.4mpg CO2 emissions 96g/km Engine 1461cc 4-cylinder diesel Max Power 110HP@4000 rpm Torque 260Nm@1750rpm Transmission 6-speed manual
The 2017 Renault Grand Scénic
A serious family estate car
Great styling for an MPV
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