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Renault Scenic 2004 Review

Styling for the Scenic has caught up with the innovative look of the remainder of the Megane family.

"The runout of the current model has been so successful that our dealers are crawling all over us to get the new car as quickly as possible," Renault Australia's Lenore Fletcher said in France this week.

"There will be about 20 cars going into dealerships in the next two weeks, really just so that they can show them off.

"An on-sale date for the five-seater will be around the Melbourne Motor Show [late February-March] with the Grand Scenic [seven seater] following about a month later."

Fletcher says that pricing is being argued with the factory and is unlikely to be settled until closer to the launch. Suggestions from others at Renault point to an entry-level five-seater at a tick under $30,000 while the Grand Scenic would need to arrive around $40,000.

"We will most likely have three specification levels and a single engine choice – the 2.0-litre petrol from the Megane – in both the five and seven-seaters," Fletcher says. "There is a possibility that we could also look at the 2.0-litre turbo but that would be some time further down the track."

Styling for the Scenic has caught up with the innovative look of the remainder of the Megane family with its sharper lines and bustle-back rear end.

Renault's Christophe Deville says: "The driver's eye level is exactly the same but the angle of the steering column, wheel and relationship to the driver's seat has been refined to make it less bus-like."

The interior of the Scenic II is stylish with an acre of dash leading out to the raked windscreen. The digital instrument display is housed under the sweeping binnacle. While the readouts are small they are easy to read. A discordant note is the intrusive automatic gear lever, which is mounted on the dash. The designers have chosen a large leather dust pouch. It doesn't work.

What does work is the huge bits-and-pieces bin between the front seats with a roller-door cover. The space is big enough to take a small handbag or a number of smaller items. There are various storage areas spread around the interior, which is light and spacious.

Rear seat passengers in the five-seater are well treated for room. But the third row in the Grand Scenic is for small children only.

The twin seats fold away to give a flat floor but when extended they are sited well forward, almost hard up against the middle row. While the three middle-row seats can slide forward it means less leg room for the second or third rows – or both.

The Scenic II is a quality drive and is 4.2m long on a wheelbase of 2.7m. It is straight off the Megane platform and behaves as you would expect. The extra 200mm of height raises the centre of gravity and promotes slightly more lateral body movement.

Ride quality is good with all but the very worst road undulations filtered by the standard suspension geometry – Macpherson front and torsion beam rear with outboard attachments and programmed deflection. The Scenic does not wallow and while there is a slight tendency to dive under braking it gathers itself and retains poise.

With 3.2 turns lock-to-lock the steering is not sharp but it does offer reasonable feedback and a good sense of what is happening through the 15-inch front-drive wheels.

There is little danger of being overpowered by the 2.0-litre engine's 98kW – peaking at 5500rpm with a redline just over 6000rpm – but the delivery is willing and with 191Nm of torque on tap the Scenic gets along nicely.

What does let the engine down is the aural coarseness it displays from outside the cabin. Sound insulation from with the cabin is exceptional – aided by sound-deadening foam in the body and chassis cavities.

The four-speed automatic has well-sorted ratios with a kick-down that is easy to induce. The lower gear will be held well up into the power band and a six-speed manual gearbox is an option.

Anti-lock brakes and electronic brake force proportioning are standard across the range with ESP offered as an option in overseas models. Satellite navigation is another function that is likely to be an option for Australia.

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Range and Specs

Dynamique 2.0L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,900 – 5,060 2004 Renault Scenic 2004 Dynamique Pricing and Specs
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Privilege 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $4,100 – 6,710 2004 Renault Scenic 2004 Privilege Pricing and Specs
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