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First drive: Renault digs deep with Scenic dCi

Oil-burner: Scenic's dCi engine is available in one automatic specification.

New diesel version of Renault's compact Scenic people-mover hits the sweet spot

27 Feb 2008

RENAULT has expanded its diesel offerings in Australia with the launch of a turbo-diesel version of the Scenic compact people-mover/small-car.

The Scenic dCi becomes the third model in Renault’s diesel passenger vehicle line-up, which already includes the exclusively diesel Laguna as well as the Megane sedan small car. It also has three light commercial diesels (Kangoo, Trafic and Master).

Although diesels still account for less than five per cent of the Australian market, it is growing and Renault wants a bigger slice of that growth. When the new Laguna arrives in June, it will have diesel variants in both hatchback and wagon bodystyles.

And the all-new Koleos – a distinctly styled Renault version of the Nissan X-Trail – which will arrive here in about September to compete with the expanding number of European compact SUVs, will also feature a diesel version.

Renault Australia managing director Rudi Koenig said that the Koleos is “a big opportunity” for the company.

In the meantime, the new Scenic dCi provides Renault with another string to its bow and could provide some incremental growth (projected 150-200 units a month) from families looking for more performance and, more importantly, hoping to save money in the face of high petrol prices.

35 center imageMr Koenig said that customer enquiry rates regarding a Scenic diesel have increased over the years as a result of people hiring them while on holiday in Europe.

He believes that many potential sales have been lost to SUVs, not only because of the previous lack of a diesel but also because its compact dimensions mean it does not look like a family vehicle.

The Scenic has been a staple of Renault’s Australian line-up since the brand was relaunched here in 2001 and is somewhat unique in offering SUV styling and practicality with compact dimensions that mean better economy but seating for only five people.

With the new 1.9-litre diesel, attached to a standard four-speed automatic transmission, fuel consumption improves from 8.6L/100km to just 7.1L/100km over the equivalent 2.0-litre petrol Scenic.

Performance is also better with the 1870cc common rail turbo-diesel engine. Although its 96kW of power at 4250rpm is comparable with the 2.0-litre petrol’s 98kW at 5500rpm, its 250Nm of torque at 1600rpm blows away the petrol alternative’s 191kW at 3750rpm, making it much more suitable for hauling the extra people and cargo for which it is designed.

And, of course, it is also less harmful to the environment, with a CO2 rating of 188g/km compared with 205g/km for the petrol model.

The Scenic dCi does not offer a manual gearbox and comes only in Expression specification, not the more highly equipped Dynamique level that petrol buyers can choose (which adds things such as leather trim, six-CD in-dash audio and alloy rather than steel wheels).

Therefore the Scenic dCi Expression offers vital safety equipment such as electronic stability control (which has been standard since the Series II Scenic was introduced), ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, and six airbags (dual front, side and curtain).

Other standard features include automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, climate-control air-conditioning and a ‘hands-free’ fuel cap.

Interior comfort features include a sliding centre console that allows more legroom for a passenger using the rear centre seat, retracting rear side sunshades, various under-floor storage compartments, storage trays under both front seats and two of the rear seats, an electronic parking brake, adjustable front and rear head restraints, front and rear armrests, driver’s seat lumbar adjustment, airline-style trays for back seat passengers, individually sliding rear seats and a trip computer with outside air temperature.

Priced at $37,990, the Scenic dCi is $4000 more than the petrol-engined Expression, but more than $2000 of the difference is accounted for by the automatic transmission, so the extra performance and economy comes at a relatively modest price.

Renault Scenic dCi range pricing:
Expression 33,990
Dynamique 36,490
Expression dCi 37,990
Grand Scénic Dynamique 39,990

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