Make / Model Search

Car reviews - Renault - Scenic - 2.0 Dynamique

Our Opinion

We like
Storage options, safety credentials, seating versatility, value for money, ride quality
Room for improvement
Absence of cruise control, requirement for premium unleaded petrol, steering kickback, suspect driver ergonomics

7 Aug 2001

IT MIGHT be a latecomer in the fledgling mini people-mover segment in Australia but the Renault Scenic is in fact the reason we have such clever, compact vehicles here at all.

This is, after all, the car that sparked an uprising in Europe last decade with its tall, petite exterior masking acres of space and outstanding packaging inside.

It won instant favour with the masses, spurred other manufacturers to follow suit, and now, five years on, has arrived in the Antipodes to take its place in the war against big-displacement cars and four-wheel drives.

What a task it has ahead of it. Other so-called mini-MPVs - the Kia Carens, Daewoo Tacuma and Mazda Premacy - have had no impact on mainstream consciousness.

But despite being copied, undercut and, in the case of the new Holden Zafira, outsmarted in the seating stakes, the Scenic has emerged with plenty of arsenal to make its presence felt.

A fair slice of Renault's $20 million launch budget will help, naturally enough, however those drawn to the flexible five-seater as a result will find a persuasive sub-$30,000 package that combines a long list of equipment with strong safety credentials, excellent use of interior space, smart seating arrangements and a unrivalled array of storage options.

In the case of the Dynamique model tested here, good engine performance is there as well.

Cruise control is the one grave omission in a features list that includes (single-zone) climate-control air-conditioning, a trip computer, leather/cloth upholstery, remote locking, power windows and a CD stereo.

There is also no shortage of safety gear, with all models fitted with dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, and lap-sash seatbelts and headrests throughout.

And, significantly, the Scenic has performed better in independent crash tests than its major rivals.

A plethora of interior space is complemented by individual rear seats that can each recline, slide, fold, tumble and be removed with consummate ease, leaving a flat floor. The retractable seatbelts can also unclip at both hip points to keep the area clear.

The bolstering and narrow rear seat width (up to 455mm) can make them awkward for child restraints and adults, while the centre-rear position cuts into rear visibility via its pillar-mounted seatbelt and roof-mounted child seat anchorage point.

Yet when unoccupied, the rear headrests hunker down on the seatbacks to provide a better view through the back window - and when filled with kids the rear compartment offers good comfort and plenty of entertainment with flip-up trays, maplights, a power socket, good visibility and ingenious underfloor bins that are part of an impressive collection of storage compartments.

There are under-seat drawers, a dashboard box, lockable glovebox, bins in all doors, map pockets behind the front seats, lidded cubbies in the luggage area and a wide bolthole revealed whenever a rear seat is tumbled.

And let us not forget the coolbox at the centre console, which gets more attention than it deserves - it's ugly, unsuitable for drink bottles, obscures the front power outlet when the lid is up and comes at the expense of a useful spot for a mobile phone or loose change.

Even with all seats occupied, the cargo area is generous in size, simple to access via the main hatch or rear window and contains tie-down hooks, another power socket, parcel shelf and a full-size spare wheel under the floor - though no more seats, as found on the Zafira, which could be a decisive factor.

From the driver's perspective, the Scenic has the requisite high-set driving position, good seat comfort, a bonza height adjustment lever and useful stereo controls mounted on the steering column.

The position does not come without annoyances, though, including unorthodox pedal placement, a difficult reverse-gear collar on the manual gearshift, two-piece front windows, visible warning lights and rear window switchgear separated from the main door-mounted control pad.

Climate controls are also set too low for simple adjustment while in transit.

Like the top-spec Privilege model, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that features variable valve timing and delivers 101kW at 5500rpm and 188Nm at 3750rpm powers the Dynamique.

It is enough to shift the 1290kg vehicle and a small family without strain. The engine gets a bit raucous at high engine speeds, but unlike the heavier RX4 version, the driver does not feel the need to dwell in this portion of the rev range and can extract good performance much lower down.

Fuel economy is respectable but the requirement for premium unleaded a burden faced at each fuel stop.

The light clutch and manual transmission action are unobtrusive, though the steering is high-geared and necessitates plenty of twirling of the tiller. The Scenic also suffers badly from steering kickback whenever the front wheels encounter a bump during a turn.

On the whole, the driving experience is predictable and safe. The tyres provide good grip, bodyroll is evident but not excessive, the ride is particularly well sorted and the brakes are effective.

General refinement is good, too, apart from wind noise across the windscreen and wing mirrors on the highway.

Designed for a life of urban toil and the occasional country sojourn, the Scenic will reward those who support its cause.

But the French legionnaire is a long way from home.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

GoAuto can help you buy a new Scenic

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires


This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here