This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Renault Scenic (16-19) review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

There's a good choice of engines available in the Scenic but the entry-level 1.4-litre petrol with 100bhp struggles for pace, especially with a full complement of passengers on board. The 1.6-litre VVT engine is better and although it only has a modest 111bhp offers more pulling power than the 1.4-litre and has a much livelier nature. Alternatively there is a 2.0-litre VVT with 136bhp but while it's smooth it's not particularly economical with a claimed figure of 35mpg and it has to be worked fairly hard in order to get meaningful performance.

A quicker 2.0T with 165bhp was available from 2004 until 2006 but it comes with high running costs. However it's the diesels which make the most sense in the Scenic, especially if you are covering long distances with a full load. The best choice for economy is the excellent 1.5dCi which will average around 55mpg. It's available in two outputs of either 86bhp or 106bhp.

The other diesels are a 1.9-litre unit with 120bhp (130bhp on later models) which has plenty of pull from low revs or the range-topping and refined 2.0dCi with 150bhp - this propels the Scenic from 0-60mph in 9.4 seconds.

Like most people carriers, the Scenic isn't particularly exciting to drive but it's safe and reassuring - and makes an ideal long distance vehicle. Body roll is fairly well kept in check, especially considering the height, plus grip is good. However the heavily-assisted steering feels lifeless and over rough roads there can be noticeable vibration through the steering column.

It rides well and although not quite as smooth as alternatives like the Citroen C4 Picasso it improves with a full load on board. The light steering makes parking straightforward and the large windows aid visibility. Conquest models have a higher ride height and stiffened suspension which actually means they ride better than the standard car, however despite the off road looks they don't have four-wheel drive.