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Exclusive: Seven-seat Renault Scenic on the cards

Scenic lookout: The previous-generation Scenic was not sold in Australia, but Renault is looking to introduce the yet-to-be-seen seven-seat Grand Scenic Down Under if the numbers stack up (regular Scenic pictured).

Renault Australia looking to fill seven-seat gap with fourth-generation Scenic


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5 Apr 2016

RENAULT Australia is working on a case to reintroduce the Scenic MPV in an effort to bring a seven-seat model to market, despite limited demand in Australia for European-oriented compact people-movers that has seen a host of brands – including Renault – exit the segment.

The French car-maker ripped the covers off the fourth-generation Scenic in five-seat guise at the Geneva motor show last month, with the three-row Grand Scenic variant set to be revealed in the coming months ahead of European sales from November.

In its latest generation, the Scenic has morphed into more of a compact crossover offering with SUV styling flourishes and a higher ride height. In Europe, it will be offered with a choice of six diesel and two petrol engines, with one of the diesels incorporating an optional hybrid unit, dubbed Hybrid Assist.

The dimensions have grown over the previous model – not sold in Australia – and it is underpinned by the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s CMF-CD platform shared with the Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail as well as Renault’s Kadjar and upcoming Koleos replacement (see separate story).

Discussing the prospect of a three-row variant of the Koleos replacement, Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said in an interview with GoAuto that while there was “no seven-seat version confirmed at this time” there was another model in Renault’s global portfolio that it was studying.

“There is another seven-seat product coming to market in the not-too-distant future,” Mr Hocevar said. “We would like to explore the suitability of that for the Australian market.

“When you have got a different concept with a really flexible platform derived from a passenger vehicle, therefore the handling attributes of a passenger vehicle but with more of a crossover visual appeal and other things people like in a crossover – raised seating position, big glasshouse and so on – there is something we may explore there.” When pressed, Mr Hocevar admitted he was talking about the new-generation Scenic.

He said the Scenic was not locked in for an Australian debut, but that the company was giving it serious consideration.

“Our product manager and I took a trip at the start of this year. We spoke with the program, we are working on a business case. We will see how we go,” he said.

“It is not a given but I think that there is an opportunity and it is still yet to launch so we have got to give it appropriate time. It is at least something we look to the horizon with.” Renault sold the facelifted version of the first-generation Scenic in Australia from 2001 to 2005 and the second-generation model from 2005 to 2009, including a seven-seat Grand Scenic version.

However, the third-generation Scenic never made it to Australian dealerships, based on slow sales in the segment and the clear preference of buyers for SUVs rather than MPVs.

Possible sales cannibalisation from the Koleos, which reached the market in 2008, also contributed to the Scenic’s demise here.

Mr Hocevar said the shift with the latest model from pure European-focused MPV to more of a crossover could boost the model’s appeal this time around in Australia.

“It has made a huge journey from being a real MPV to riding higher, sitting on really the big (20-inch) wheels filling out the large arches, that whole visual appeal of a crossover coming into that MPV category,” he said.

“If we see the way SUV is trending back towards becoming more passenger-car-like in its design and appeal, this is almost coming to converge on that space from just a different origin.” Renault Australia corporate communications and sponsorship manager Emily Fadeyev added that the Scenic “presents and interesting challenge” for the brand in bringing it to market.

“That market is not very big at the moment but does it … offer that opportunity to appeal to two worlds. Two-wheel-drive SUV customers with a bit of the MPV. It’s an interesting one.” The other seven-seat model in the Renault model range is the Espace that launched in Europe last year, but this is only built in left-hand-drive configuration and is therefore not available to the Australian market.

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