Road Test: Renault takes the Scenic route for a modern family car
Model: Grand Scenic
Date Reviewed: June 24, 2013
Renault is trying to kill the people carrier. No, I have no crystal ball and there’s nothing in my prediction other than educated guesswork. Still, the trail of evidence and motive is undeniable. Renault effectively created the people carrier (MPV) with the original Espace (yes, I know, Chrysler and Fiat both technically got there first), but now it seems determined to bump the segment off.
Not only has Renault confirmed that the next Espace will be as much an SUV as it will be an MPV, so too has it sounded the death knell for the Scenic. The seven-seat Grand Scenic will continue unabated, but the standard five-seat model will be progressively replaced by this new XMOD model, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that, when the next-generation Scenic arrives, there will only be a seven-seat version. The five-seat model will likely be replaced entirely by a standalone SUV-style car. Which is rather a shame.
Why? Because the XMOD has thrown out the form-following-function ideal that all MPVs should cling to. A facelift of the entire Scenic range has brought a new, bolder, grille with a huge Renault diamond plonked in the middle and some other exterior and interior tweaks. But the XMOD goes further, with phony undertray bash plates and stick-on grey plastic panels in an attempt to convince you that, yes, it really could go yomping its way across the Serengeti.
It couldn’t. It’s a front-wheel drive diesel MPV. And the ironic thing is that all of the things that are good about the Scenic XMOD have absolutely nothing to do with the XMOD part. The interior is an obvious strong point. It’s spacious, the seats are very comfy and everything looks and feels suitably well built. The all-digital dashboard is nice to use and to look at, and the equipment levels are high, including electronic child locks and a kick-ass Bose stereo.
Individually adjustable rear seats
In the back, there are three individually adjustable seats, which means that you can fit three child car seats abreast in there, a major consideration for families these days. The boot, a 472-litre space, can be enlarged by sliding those rear seats forward a touch. In addition, there’s a sense of airiness and light to the cabin which makes it a very pleasant place to be. By accident, not design, I ended up taking the XMOD on three round trips between Dublin and Galway in the space of a week, and never once felt tired or bored of the car.