Renault Scenic review: why would you choose a Model Y?
Renault has re-established itself as a titan of Europe’s family car sector; the Scenic offers range, tech and space, all at a reasonable price
- Class-leading range
- Strong tech offering
- Spacious interior
- Not much fun to drive
- High boot loading lip
- Renault customer satisfaction
Renault Scenic verdict
The Renault Scenic has been reborn as an SUV for the electric age, and the automotive industry may not have seen quite such a dramatic reinvention since the third-generation Mercedes A-Class launched in 2012. The all-new, all-electric Scenic has been thrown in at the deep end amongst a raft of established rivals, yet manages to swim to the forefront thanks to its superb electric range, strong refinement and slick tech offering.
If you’re after a sporty driving experience or Tesla-toppling performance, you won’t find it here, though we think the Renault’s roomy cabin will garner it more brownie points with electric family SUV buyers. We were supremely impressed by the smaller and cheaper electrified Megane hatchback, but several advancements mean that the more practical Scenic is an even more appealing proposition.
Details, specs and alternatives
Following the launch of its first EV, the ZOE supermini, it took Renault almost 10 years to come out with another electric car. That follow-up arrived in the form of a new electrified version of the long-running Megane hatchback - if we ignore the Twizy quadricycle and the very limited-run Fluence Z.E saloon. Now, only another two years on from the arrival of the Renault Megane E-Tech, we have its newer, bigger brother: the all-new Renault Scenic E-Tech.
Forget the frumpy Scenic MPV of old, this latest model is a fashionable electric family SUV to rival the likes of the Volkswagen ID.4, Skoda Enyaq, Toyota bZ4X, Nissan Ariya and, of course, the UK’s best-selling electric car: the Tesla Model Y. Those with deeper pockets, or more generous company car allowances, may also be considering the BMW iX1, Audi Q4 e-tron and Volvo XC40 Recharge.
The Renault Scenic has them all trumped in terms of electric range, though; there’s only one battery configuration available in the UK, and this returns an official WLTP range of 379 miles – almost 50 miles more than the equivalent Tesla. However, with only 217bhp, the Scenic’s electric motor can’t quite match the Model Y in terms of outright performance. That said, Renault says you only need to plug-in the Scenic for half-an-hour at a 100kW public rapid charger for over 200 miles of continued motorway driving.
At launch, Renault is offering the electric Scenic in three trim levels: Techno, Esprit Alpine and Iconic. Starting from around £41,000, the Scenic is a bit of a bargain in the electric family SUV space – especially given the long range it offers. Standard equipment is strong, too, with even the base Renault Scenic Techno getting a slick dual-screen infotainment system (more on that later), LED headlights, climate control, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a wireless smartphone charger and a plethora of driver assistance features, such as blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, front-and-rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
If you’re a fan of Formula One then you can splash out an extra £2,000 for the sporty-looking Esprit Alpine model, which is inspired by Renault’s performance brand and F1 team. This gets several styling accents in the signature Alpine blue, as well as a set of figure-hugging sports seats, a model-specific Alpine steering wheel and a set of 20-inch alloy wheels (Iconic cars get 19-inch alloys as standard).
Finally, there’s the top-spec Renault Scenic Iconic that starts from around £45,000. For your extra cash over the base Techno car you get 20-inch alloy wheels, as well as a Harman Kardon sound system, recycled fabric upholstery, a massaging driver’s seat, a digital rear-view mirror, an electrically frosting glass roof and 360-degree camera system. Ultimately, we think the base Techno represents the best value for money, although we do understand why you may be tempted by the extra goodies offered by the top-spec model.
Range, battery size & charging
Wallbox charge time
13hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)
37mins (15-80%, 150kW)
As mentioned, there’s only one battery option available at launch: with a usable capacity of 84kWh, this gives the Renault Scenic an electric range of up to 379 miles on a single charge. In comparison, a Tesla Model Y Long Range is capable of up to 331 miles before needing to be plugged-in, while a Hyundai Ioniq 5 has a maximum range of 315 miles.
As is the case with most electric cars, this figure is a best-case-scenario estimate. You should easily be able to get more than 300 miles of range out of the Scenic from a full charge, though, and a standard-fit heat pump should help you get close to that 379-mile maximum in the winter months. Be that as it may, we’ll provide our own efficiency stats when we get to drive the Scenic back at home in the UK.
All versions of the new Renault Scenic come as standard with 150kW DC ultra rapid charging capability; Renault says this is enough for a 15-80% top-up in 37 minutes when connected to a fast enough public charger, or the equivalent of 239 miles of additional range in half an hour. Of course, using a home wallbox will take a lot longer – Renault quotes a full charge will take 13 hours.
Running costs & insurance
Starting at just over £41,000, the Renault Scenic is competitively priced for an electric family SUV – especially if you consider a Tesla Model Y RWD costs around £3,000 more and offers significantly less range. Insurance groups have yet to be announced, but it’s worth keeping in mind that EVs tend to be more expensive to insure than their petrol and diesel-powered counterparts.
All of the usual electric car benefits will apply to the Scenic, including rock-bottom 2% Benefit-in-Kind company car tax rates until 2025, with zero road tax (VED) to pay until the same year. With that being said, the Scenic’s large 84kWh battery pack means it might not be quite as cheap to charge as you might expect; a full charge at the average electricity rate of 30p per kilowatt-hour will set you back roughly £25, while the average rapid charging cost of 79p per kilowatt-hour means that a 10-80% charge will come to around £46 – cheaper than filling up a combustion SUV with petrol, but not exactly as inexpensive as many might anticipate.
Performance, motor & drive
Let’s make this clear straight off the bat: if you’re after driver enjoyment, you’re better-off taking a look at the Toyota bZ4X, or even the Nissan Ariya. All versions of the new Renault Scenic come as standard with a 217bhp electric motor and while this would be good news in a conventional petrol-powered SUV, the weight of the Scenic’s battery pack means 0-62mph takes a pretty unstimulating 7.9 seconds. This is fast enough for most buyers, though, with the strongest acceleration taking place between 0-30mph, which should make the Scenic feel nippy around town.
Weighing in at 1,800kg, the Renault Scenic is pretty heavy for a car of its size, but around the middle of the pack when it comes to EVs of similar dimensions. Yet, many of the Scenic’s competitors disguise their bulk better on a twisty road; the steering is well weighted, although quick direction changes can throw the car off balance.
Dial things back a bit and you’ll find the Scenic is pretty refined on the move; the suspension setup may be firm, but the Renault’s springs nevertheless do well at ironing out all but the biggest bumps in the road – while we haven’t yet tried the car back in the UK, we feel the Scenic should be more than up to the task of swallowing up potholes. It’s pretty quiet, too, although there is a bit of intrusive wind noise around the A-pillar at motorway speeds.
Interior, dashboard & infotainment
We previously gave the Renault Megane E-Tech an award for its Google-based infotainment system and the Scenic gets this same set-up, just with a larger 12.3-inch centre display. This, as you’d expect, benefits from things like Google Maps built-in, as well as smart EV route planning and battery preconditioning – Apple CarPlay can also be used if you’re an iPhone user. We’re thankful that Renault has maintained a row of physical toggle switches and buttons at the bottom of the display, allowing you to easily adjust the climate control.
Moving away from the tech offering, the Scenic’s interior has a high quality feel to it with a plethora of sustainable materials – you can’t get a Scenic with leather upholstery. Everything feels well-screwed together and is laid out where you expect it to be. The full-length glass roof of our test car helped brighten things up, as did the light grey fabric on the seats.
Boot space, seating & practicality
Boot space (seats up/down)
The Renault Scenic, like its MPV predecessors, boasts a spacious interior that's laden with family-friendly features. Its bespoke EV underpinnings mean there’s no hump in the floor of the Scenic’s rear passenger compartment, meaning it’s easy to sit three adults abreast; a tall roofline results in plenty of head space for those over six feet tall, too.
One of our favourite features is the Scenic’s multi-talented rear armrest which not only acts as somewhere to… well, rest your arm, but also incorporates cupholders, a stand for your mobile device or tablet, plus two USB-C ports to keep them charged up.
With a capacity of 545 litres, the Renault Scenic offers boot space on-par with some of the roomiest cars in class, including the Skoda Enyaq and Hyundai Ioniq 5. Fold the rear seats down and this expands to 1,670 litres, though getting the largest of items inside may prove quite difficult given the pretty high load lip.
Reliability & safety rating
The Renault Scenic has just come out so we don’t have any reliability data on it yet; Renault as a brand, on the other hand, didn’t perform all too well in our most recent Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, placing 29th out of 32 manufacturers. Roughly a quarter of respondents reported a fault with their cars within the first year of ownership, with the most common problem being electrical faults – not what you want to hear when buying an EV.
Safety shouldn’t be a point of concern, though; the Scenic’s smaller sibling, the Megane E-Tech, was given the full five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP, and we expect nothing less from this latest model.