Renault Scenic 1.6 Energy dCi 130

  • Engine drops emissions to 115g/km, economy to 64.2mpg
  • Manufacturer claims it is most powerful engine of its size
  • On sale now for £20,900 (Scenic) and £22,200 (Grand Scenic)

As Renault continues to try to portray itself as a clean and green company, this image isn't coming from purely focusing on zero emission electric cars but also from significant advances made in its internal combustion engines too.

While European manufacturers emissions average is 140g/km, Renault's average across the range is 135g/km, with the brand aiming to hit 120g/km by 2013 and less than 100g/km in 2016.

This may all be some way off, but the 1.6-litre Energy diesel model goes some way towards these goals. It is the latest in a line of new engines that come with lower emissions and better economy, without a compromise on performance.  

It is essentially a replacement for the old 1.9-litre dCi engine and the French firm has managed to cut emissions by 30g/km compared to the previous unit. They've dropped from 145g/km to 115g/km. This means your annual road tax bill falls from £145 to just £30, while company car drivers will see their BIK liability drop from 21% to 13%. Economy has also seen a substantial improvement from 51.4mpg to a claimed 64.2mpg.

Despite these drastic drops, the smaller engine still produces the same 130bhp and at the same time torque has gone from 300 to 320Nm.

The engine will start life in the Scenic and Grand Scenic, which we tested it in, before becoming available on the Megane in 2012. As a joint venture between Renault and Nissan it could also find its way in to some of the Japanese car makers models in the future.

In the Scenic the new engine is excellent. That extra torque means there is plenty of low-down pull and it will take 10.3seconds to hit 62mph, pretty competitive compared to the Ford C-Max and Peugeot 3008 equivalents. Even in the slightly bigger Grand Scenic, performance is good.

Those vast emission and economy improvements have come mainly down to the introduction of some new rather complicated engine technology. However, the more simple addition of a stop/start system as standard has also helped, and it's a good system that starts quickly to avoid any traffic light embarrassment.

Making the engine cleaner and more frugal has been the main priority, however, special attention has also been paid to the engines acoustic performance - according to the manufacturer. Something has definitely been done as the rattling of the diesel engine noise is almost non-existent in the cabin.

The ride is composed and should be comfortable enough not to make the kids be sick in the back. The six-speed manual gearbox that comes with it is precise, while the steering is almost perfectly balanced in weight - light enough for low-speed tight manoeuvres, but heavier for quicker driving. It will hardly set your world alight when it comes to driving pleasure but dropping the kids off at school will be a breeze.

This engine is only available in Dynamique TomTom spec cars and is available to order now, with first deliveries expected in July. Prices start at £20,900 for the Scenic and £22,200 for the bigger Grand Scenic.

Also consider

Ford C-Max

The latest version matches practicality and engaging perfromance superbly. Inside the cabin is like a spaceship, but continues to show the kind of premium quality Ford now offers.

Peugeot 3008

Billed as a kind crossover/people carrier mix, the 3008 offers refined and comfortable ride, plus the room in the back need to ferry the kids around. Also comes with impressive diesel engines.

Citroen C4 Picasso

Family-friendly interior offers plenty of space and practical touches. Like the Scenic, there's also the choice of a seven-seat version, and, like the Scenic the diesel options make most sense.