The secret to the Scenic’s new design identity – aside from all the obvious curvature going on in the bodywork – is contained within a number of telling dimensional changes.

The latest model is 20mm wider than its predecessor and on broader axle tracks. It’s also a little over 30mm longer in the wheelbase and is 16mm shorter in the rear overhang, making it better proportioned right out of the gate.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The switch to a 60/40 split middle row disadvantages RHD buyers. No Isofix mountings on third-row seats. Those are major failings in an MPV

But the real coup is the previously unheard-of addition of 20in wheels as a standard item across the range.

These inordinately big rims make the Scenic look suddenly squat and purposeful, while at the same time helping it to gain 40mm in ground clearance.

The effect, considered alongside the high shoulder line, deep sills and raked nose, is significant. The Grand Scenic gains slightly longer rear doors in order to account for a wheelbase length 70mm greater than that of its five-seat sibling, although it, too, is a visual tonic for the mostly by-the-numbers design of direct rivals such as the Volkswagen Touran and Citroën Grand C4 Picasso.

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Whether or not the Scenic overhauls the more fashionable profile of a Skoda Kodiaq or Nissan X-Trail is debatable, but the very fact of it being worthy of discussion signals that the Renault design team has triumphantly hit its target.

Underneath the body, there are fewer surprises. The aged platform of its predecessor has been replaced by the larger version of Renault-Nissan’s Common Module Family (CMF) architecture.

The C/D variant of that component set underpins everything from the Nissan Qashqai to the Renault Talisman, and while it can accommodate four-wheel drive, the Scenic is exclusively front drive.

Turning the halfshafts is a familiar range of engine options: two versions of the four-cylinder petrol 1.2 TCe, alongside the stalwart 1.5 dCi 110 and 1.6 dCi 130 diesels. The 1.6 is also available in its lesser-seen, twin-turbocharged dCi 160 form, which gets a six-speed EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox as standard. The rest come with a six-speed manual, although a seven-speed EDC ’box can be ticked for the 1.5 dCi.

The chassis is independent at the front, courtesy of MacPherson struts, and sticks with a torsion beam at the back.

To help stave off the inevitably detrimental effect of wearing 20in rims, Renault has shod them in equally big tyres, with the 195/55 rubber delivering a fairly sizeable 107mm sidewall. Moreover, by keeping the tyre narrow and being clever with the compounds, the manufacturer has earned an A rating for rolling resistance – the best, it says, ever awarded to a 20in wheel. 

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