Renault Scenic E-Tech (2023) review
So does the Renault Scenic E-Tech look like a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) from the inside?
The 545-litre boot capacity is certainly promising. The tailgate opens into a deep, square cargo space, complete with a few luggage hooks, a 12-volt charger, and under-floor cable storage. The problem is that the floor is too far from the loading lip, and the 40/20/40-split rear seats leave a large step up when folded down. So, although there is a lot of space in the trunk, it is mostly in the rear.
Having a big drop above a lip that isn’t terribly low means coaxing dogs into jumping into a dark well; These are things that hold your back, as you have to lift the heavy stroller up and down, instead of just sliding it across a flat floor. However, Renault has told us it will offer a variable boot floor in the UK which will solve this problem, either as standard or as a very affordable option.
There’s endless legroom in the back of the Scenic – more than in the new Peugeot e-3008 – and even if you get the panoramic glass roof (which has smart glass, allowing its opacity to be changed at the touch of a button), a couple of six Feet will be very comfortable. Middle seat space is generous and the center passenger benefits from the lack of a transmission tunnel, so all three children will be reasonably happy together across the back seat.
However, while the three-way seat split is more useful than many competitors’ 60/40 split, and the center armrest has a hidden phone holder and two charging ports, the seats don’t slide or recline, and you can only fit two child seats to them. For real family practicality, we would have liked more seating versatility – ideally three individually adjustable seats with three sets of Isofix points in a manner suitable for multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs). Unfortunately, this ultimate practicality seems to be limited to truck-based vehicles at present.
Sliding into the front seat doesn’t do anything to shake growing suspicions that the Scenic is actually a big, luxurious hatchback that doesn’t have any MPV – just like most family crossovers in this class. This is mainly because rearward visibility is poor, and even forward visibility is average at best, as chunky side mirrors often obscure your view at intersections.
However, this sounds like we are in a state of major scenic decline, but that is not the case. The lack of versatility is a major disappointment, after Renault’s hype about this family car’s utility being a big selling point; But if you take the Scenic for the roomy and straightforward electric crossover it clearly is, it’s a strong contender. First of all, the materials used inside are beautiful. Our top-spec Iconic test car was particularly nice, with light upholstery made of part leather and gray fabric inserts. About 80% of these materials come from recycled sources as well.
The dashboard is very similar to that of the Renault Austral, so the 12.0-inch touchscreen is your window to almost everything, but there’s also a thin row of physical air conditioning buttons directly below it, which makes us very happy. The display has Google software built-in, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, one of the best in its class. There’s a handy home shortcut button permanently visible at the top of the screen, and having all the familiarity and ease of use that Google Maps has to offer is nice.
Sometimes, those huge, portrait-oriented screens are actually harder to use on the go than those smaller screens that have a lip to rest your hand on, but the large icons and reasonably simple layout of this Reno system make it very easy to get side-by-side with.
That probably can’t be said for the set of stalks that emerge from the right side of the steering column, where you’ll find the gear selector, indicators, and a large growth of buttons below that again for audio. It’s a lot of sticky controls to feel around in a small area.