|Renault Scenic v Citroen C4 Grand Picasso compared - boxsterboy|
On holiday in Spain last week and luckily we had pre-hired a car. I had booked a Pug Partner on the basis that it was cheap, roomy, and a car I was genuinely interested in trying. At the airport we were upgraded to a brand new Renault Scenic 1.5DCi (400km on the clock). Over the next 10 days we did another 700km. Then this week our C8 was in for a service, and instead of the usual C3 I got a C4 Grand Picasso 1.6 HDI manual (8,000 miles on the clock). A chance to drive two competing cars within days of each other. So, how do they compare?
To me the new Scenic is just too bland and a retrograde step compared to the previous model. This seems to be a common theme in Renault's styling department at the moment. The Grand Pic is a far more adventurous design to my eyes, although maybe a bit bulbous around the front? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The Scenic has a smart TFT display screen that is just slightly easier to read than the Grand Pic's conventional digital display, but the rest of the interior is a complete victory for the Citroen. Better quality materials, more room around the pedals, and really clever seats that all fold flat, with a flat load-lip, making the transfer of a washing machine last night a complete doddle. The Renaults rear seats fold just like a conventional hatchback, leaving an uneven floor (although they can be taken out altogether) and the boot has a noticeable load-lip. The huge windscreen on the Picasso is great, really brightening up the cabin. The seats on the Picasso are also better. Both had stacks of room in the rear but the Citroen was roomier and I could fit in all seats (all 6'1" of me).
ON THE ROAD
The two cars are very similar as far as road-holding and suspension are concerned - but the Citroen has a slight edge on comfort. Both had electronic hand-brakes. The Citroens was a bit slow in operation but the car had a hill-hold which would seem to be essential with hand-brakes like this. If the Renault had a hill-hold, it wasn't working on our car, making hill starts very difficult.
The PSA 1.6HDI has a slight power advantage over the Renault 1.5DCi, and this really showed on the road where it goes very well, despite the larger body of the Citroen. I've driven this PSA/Ford 1.6 HDI in other cars and it is a great engine. A major fault with the Renault was the way it would bog down in 2nd gear at, say 10mph when you turn into a side road. It just couldn't pick up in 2nd and you would be forced to drop down to 1st uncomfortably. The Citroen can pull away in 1st with no throttle in the way that all good diesels can. The Renault needs revs to pull away, making town driving more of a chore - I stalled it more than once!
Brakes clutch and steering on both were similar, both had light, feel-free steering in the modern style - perfectly acceptable for the type of car, although doubtless some road testers would moan about them.
The Citroen would win all day long for me, which must be a bit of a disappointment for the head honchos back at Renault HQ. It is almost as if they hadn't even looked at the Picasso when designing the new Scenic.
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