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Renault Scenic E-Tech review

2024 onwards (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 54.0
” Innovative, sustainable and comfortable “

At a glance

Price new £37,495 - £45,495
Used prices £29,588 - £38,830
Road tax cost £0
Insurance group 28 - 32
Get an insurance quote with Mustard logo
Fuel economy 3.5 - 3.7 miles/kWh
Range 260 - 379 miles
Miles per pound 5.6 - 10.9
View full specs for a specific version

Available fuel types

Fully electric

Pros & cons

PROS
  • Easy and enjoyable to drive
  • Superb official electric range
  • Spacious, well-planned interior 
CONS
  • Fidgety ride at times
  • Poor rear visibility
  • There are cheaper alternatives

Written by John Howell Published: 15 March 2024 Updated: 26 June 2024

Overview

What’s Jean-Michel Jarre got to do with the Renault Scenic E-Tech? Well, for younger readers, Monsieur Jarre is a composer, and was big news in the 1980s. A pioneer of electronic, ambient music, and lots of people bought his albums. A little later, the Renault Scenic was big as well because it was one of the pioneers of the small MPV class, but big news because lots of people bought one.

The link, though, is the latest Scenic plays ambient electronic music composed by – yes, you guessed it – Jean-Michele himself. And it plays it to those inside and to pedestrians as you tootle past them in town. That’s not all that’s different about the current model. It’s now an electric SUV, although Renault doesn’t officially call it that. It says it’s just great car, not just a great electric car, and it’s up to you to decide whether it’s an MPV, SUV or a family car.

Well then, that means it’s up against many rivals. Everything from regular petrol and hybrid models, such as the Nissan Qashqai, to other all-electric cars, like the BYD Atto 3, Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV and Peugeot e-3008. You can put the Tesla Model Y is in the mix, too, which is in the same price bracket as the pricier versions of the Scenic.

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Renault Scenic (2024) front driving
There are two battery size options for the Scenic E-Tech.

There are three trims and two battery sizes. The smaller 60kWh battery comes with 170hp on tap; the bigger battery is 87kWh and delivers 217hp from its motor. What about the all-important range? Even the smaller battery will do a claimed 260 miles on a full charge, while the 87kWh battery goes way further: 379 miles claimed. That, folks, is one of the best ranges you can bag for the money. Read on to see how we rate it after driving several versions on UK roads – you can find out how we test cars to see how we’ve come to our conclusions.

What’s it like inside?

Rather pleasant, actually. Renault’s gone in big on sustainability with the Scenic, which we’ll talk more about later, but basically there’s lots of recycled bits including the seat upholstery. It’s made out of old plastic bottles but it looks and feels top drawer.

There are some cheaper plastics dotted around, true – the top of the door trims, for example, are scratchy and unforgiving – but there are plenty of smarter-looking materials to take your eye off those. Materials like the faux-leather-wrapped steering wheel, glossy black dashboard surfaces and chrome highlights.

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Renault Scenic (2024) interior
Renault has focussed on sustainability in the Scenic’s cabin.

We haven’t tried the entry-level Techno trim yet, but the sportier mid-level Esprit Alpine has electric blue carpet and door trims to lighten the ambience, while top-spec Iconic even has real wood on the doors. The carpeted door bins front and rear stop your bits and bobs rattling and are another nice touch. Compared with price rivals like the Skoda Enyaq and Model Y, the Scenic’s at least on par, if not better, in terms of fit and finish.

Infotainment and tech 

Push the start button and the 12.3-inch digital driver’s display erupts with hyperactive animations, Google OS branding and that welcome tune from Jean-Michel Jarre. It’s quite the entrance.

Both the digital driver’s display and the portrait-style 12.0-inch infotainment screen are high-definition and the latter’s software is snappy. We didn’t experience any bugs, but the software isn’t the final iteration – Renault is updating it before production starts and the first cars arrive in the UK.

Any future updates can be done over the air, and the functionality includes Google assisted services (Google Assistant voice control, Maps and Play store with up to 50 apps).

We’ve just mentioned the infotainment screen but there are physical buttons to operate the basics, like the climate control. Also, in typical Renault fashion, physical audio controls are laid on for you behind steering wheel – you can’t see them but you learn to use them by feel pretty quickly.

The driver’s seat is supportive and has plenty of adjustment. On Iconic trim it’s electrically adjustable with a massage function. The steering wheel also has a good range of movement in and out and up and down, plus there’s a big, sliding centre armrest to rest on.

Visibility is decent out the front and sides, but the rear window is tiny and the large back pillars make reversing a nightmare. The only saving grace is that you get front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera as standard. There’s also a ‘smart rear-view mirror’ available. Basically, it’s a regular mirror but if your view out the back is blocked by a boot full of luggage, flick a switch and the mirror turns into a screen showing what’s behind from a camera feed. It’s helpful but not essential.

Comfort

How comfortable the Scenic is rather depends on what surface your driving on. It takes big hits like speed bumps in its stride, and even dispenses with an average pothole without thumping and crashing. Plus, if you’re winding your way along a country road strewn with dips and crests, the Scenic doesn’t float about like some nauseating waterbed on wheels.

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Renault Scenic (2024) rear driving
The ride is generally good, but how comfortable you are can depend on the road surface.

That’s all great, then, but it’s not without its challenges. The suspension is so determined to keep everything under control that when you hit Tarmac that’s more akin to a washboard – as in, with lots of little ripples – the ride gets quite giggly and unsettled. In the same vein, you’ll notice it rocking from side-to-side at times on the motorway. These traits aren’t deal breakers, but could be annoying. For something more settled, try out the Skoda Enyaq.

The Scenic is pretty quiet, though. There’s hardly any motor whine under acceleration. In fact, the only time you’ll hear much from the drivetrain is a background hum when you back off and the motor starts harvesting energy to replenish the battery. There’s some wind noise at 70mph but it’s not excessive, and road noise, even on the biggest 20-inch wheels, is only an issue on properly coarse roads. Overall, we’d say it’s one of the quieter cars in its class.   

Safety

The Scenic E-Tech has 30 driver assistance systems, which include lane assist, adaptive cruise control with lane centring, active emergency braking (to stop you having an accident and to prevent a secondary collision), plus blindspot monitoring. The blindspot system works when you’re on the go and when you’re parked – to warn you if you’re about to open the door on a cyclist.

And the new Scenic keeps a close eye on the driver too. Not just their awareness but also their driving style: a safety coach can score your excess speed, any tailgating or enthusiastic cornering. It’s part of the mandated driver monitoring regulations coming into force shortly.

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Renault Scenic (2024) twilight
There’s plenty of new kit with a raft of safety systems to keep you on the road.

The great news is that the Scenic’s safety kit isn’t overly intrusive. The lane assist, for example, isn’t fighting you regularly like it can do in some Skodas, Peugeots and Volkswagens. And you can turn some of the assistance systems off easily if they do get on your wick; just double-tap a button by the steering wheel and it’s done.

What’s it like to drive?

The Scenic is quite lightweight by electric-car standards, and as a result quite satisfying to drive. And by satisfying, first and foremost, we mean the way it goes round corners. Because it’s relatively firmly sprung you don’t feel it leaning excessively in corners, and nor is it overly troubled by a bump in the road mid-bend.

That air of stability gives you the confidence to push on if you feel like it, and, when you do, the ultimate grip is okay (at least on the warm and dry roads we tested it on in Spain). That said, the grip isn’t exactly tenacious – a Kia EV6 will carry more speed round a given bend. When the Scenic does run out of grip it’s at the front tyres first. And when that happens your instinct is to back off the accelerator, which usually neatens brings the nose back towards your desired line.

The steering is quite quick once you get past the first few degrees, which makes the Scenic feel agile and eager to turn. It’s also quite light, and if you’re not used to this kind of set-up you might find the way it steers a bit nervous to begin with. After a while you do tend to acclimatise to it, though. If you prefer heavier steering, you can add more weight by pressing the mode button on the steering wheel and selecting Sport.

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Renault Scenic (2024) front driving
The Scenic E-Tech has a bold new look.

Speaking of the steering wheel, there are paddles on the back of it to change the regenerative braking effect. The lowest mode basically lets the car freewheel when you take your foot off the accelerator, while the most aggressive mode (there are four in total) slows the car noticeably. It won’t stop the car completely, mind, like the one-pedal braking in a Tesla will. The brake pedal itself isn’t quite as progressive as the Tesla’s, either, but it’s not bad. It’s still easy enough to stop the Scenic smoothly – and way more smoothly than you can stop some EV rivals.

What about the performance? Well, if you’re after neck-snapping acceleration, buy a Tesla Model Y instead. The Scenic accelerates in a much calmer manner, more akin to competitors like the Enyaq. Nevertheless, it’s quick enough in our book. The less powerful 60kWh version hits 0-62mph in useful 8.6 seconds, while 87kWh model we drove does that sprint in 7.9 seconds. That’s quicker than the Peugeot e-2008 and more than a match for plenty of petrol and diesel rivals, too.

The nice thing is how progressively it accelerates, whether you’re in stop-start traffic or on a country road – where, by the way, there’s enough oomph to overtake slower-moving traffic when required.  

Practicality

In the front there’s enough space for a tall driver and a equally tall passenger. In fact, the Scenic will quite happily accommodate four-six-footers front and back thanks to the amount of head and legroom in offer – with room for a fifth person in the tighter rear middle seat when required.

Do we have any gripes? Well, the rear seats don’t slide or recline, and it’s a shame there’s not more room for the rear passengers to fit their feet under the front seats. On the plus side, there’s flat floor spanning the width of the rear compartment and the rear bench is positioned relatively high up. Higher than, for example, the Tesla Model 3’s, so on a long trip you shouldn’t hear your rear passengers grumbling about any aches and pains.

There’s also lot’s of storage capacity in the front, including reasonably sized door bins and a big well beneath the infotainment screen that includes a cup holder. One question mark is the glovebox. On the left-hand drive cars we tried the glovebox wasn’t huge, and often when Renault brings out a right-hand drive version it gets smaller still. We’ll let you know about that in due course.

In the back there are two more door bins and lots of handy pockets on the back of the front seats for electronic devices and other bit and pieces. But the party piece is the rear armrest. This has a lid that reveals some extra storage inside, two USB-C charge points, and two cup holders. Nothing outlandish there, we know, but when you rotate the cup holders they reveal a tablet holder – one for each rear passenger. That should keep the kids quiet for a while.

The 545-litre boot isn’t far off the size of an Enyaq’s carrying capacity. That’s a good thing because it means you’ll get larger items, like pushchairs, fitted in easily enough. There’s also 38 litres of storage underneath the boot floor, which is perfect for the charging cables, but no storage space under the bonnet.

There’s a massive drop from the boot lip to the boot floor to lift items over, and when you lower the 40/20/40 rear seats – increasing the space to 1,670 litres – you’re left with a large step in the extended floor. For that reason, we’d definitely recommend the optional height-adjustable boot floor. It’s not silly money and helps mitigate these issues. 

Range and charging

As we’ve said, there are two battery sizes: 60kWh and 87kWh. The entry-level battery has the same capacity as the top Megane, but Renault claims the Scenic’s new Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) cell chemistry boosts energy density by 6% for more range. And in the base Scenic the official range is respectable 260 miles, while the 87kWh model travels 379 miles according to the WLTP test cycle. That’s really impressive, beating the biggest battery versions of the Skoda Enyaq and the Tesla Model Y.

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Renault Scenic (2024) rear seats
We wish the rear seats would slide back or recline.

A heat pump is standard. This helps maintain the battery’s range even in more extreme weather – by making the heating and air-conditioning more efficient and keeping the battery at the optimum temperature when it’s cold outside.

In fact, Renault says the Google Maps navigation is linked to the battery management system. That means it knows when to heat or cool the battery en route to a charger so it’s in the perfect condition to charge quickly when you arrive. The infotainment even considers the weather, in a bid to accurately predict your range – something we look forward to testing.

Maximum DC charging is 150kW, and Renault claims a strong charging curve that averages 110kW to replenish 50kWh in 30 minutes. And if all that makes absolutely no sense at all to you, basically, a 30 minute charge at a fast charger should add around two hours or motorway driving. The standard onboard AC charger is 7kW, although 22kW is optional for homes with three-phase electricity.

Lastly, ordering a home wallbox charger from Renault subsidiary Mobilize enables bi-directional charging. That means the chance of selling electricity back to the grid at peak times, in France at least.

What models and trims are available?

Entry-level Techno trim includes 19-inch alloy wheels, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, a powered tailgate, adaptive cruise and LED headlights.

Esprit Alpine adds 20-inch diamond cut alloys, heated front seats and plusher dashboard materials, while top-rung Iconic gets a Harman Kardon sound system, that smart rear-view mirror and a 360-degree parking camera.

On top of that lot is something a bit flash to impress your mates with – or at the very least keep the kids entertained. It’s called the panoramic Solarbay roof. Instead of a physical blind to stop glare, the large glass roof has polymer-dispersed liquid crystals that make individual sections of the glass opaque at the touch of a button.

What else should I know?

As we mentioned earlier, Renault is getting increasingly serious about sustainability. Some 24% of the materials in the Scenic are recycled, with the aluminium bonnet and doors 40% recycled and four-fifths of the dashboard structure having a second life.

And 90% of the car will be recyclable at the end of the vehicle’s life, too. That includes the battery, with 90% of its cobalt, nickel and lithium going into a closed loop to make new batteries. Renault is also establishing 20 centres around Europe to repair defunct battery modules – rather than having to replace the whole unit just because one module has gone doolally.

Renault also says that 85% of the components that make up the Scenic are sourced from Europe, which is yet another thing that helps cut the car’s CO2 footprint.

So is the Scenic E-Tech different enough from the opposition to fully appeal in a market that’s exploding with choices? Read our verdict to find out.

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