Review: Renault Scenic (2003 – 2009)

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Far better than the previous model. The Grand model seats seven. Practical and versatile. Excellent crash test rating.

Potentially heavy tyre wear on Scenics with 17-inch wheels. Blown turbos on diesel models. Patchy build quality. Dashboard failures common. Heater fan motor failures common.

Renault Scenic (2003 – 2009): At A Glance

Shock announcement: I'm about to recommend a Renault. I have just spent a week with a Scenic dCi 120 Privilege and, far from finding faults, I enjoyed every minute of it.

One reason was the cheerful, perky, free-revving 120bhp diesel engine (this one had done 8,000 miles). Another was the near perfect 6-speed gearbox.

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What does a Renault Scenic (2003 – 2009) cost?

List Price from £21,720
Buy new from £17,501

Renault Scenic (2003 – 2009): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4259–4498 mm
Width 1805–1810 mm
Height 1620–1640 mm
Wheelbase 2685–2736 mm

Full specifications

I liked the seating position, the steering, the handling and the thoughtful design of the interior. You can lose things in there. Apart from the glovebox, there are eight separate lidded storage compartments, and a between-the-seats console box so big it could take a small dog. It might be an idea for Renault to run a valeters competition for the most unusual object found in those cubby holes during a pre-sale clean-up.

The car has a flat floor so you can slide across with reasonable ease. To accomplish this Renault has adopted a dash mounted electric parking brake control which does take a bit of getting used to and might be a candidate for trouble in future. That said, it does apply the parking brakes far more firmly than a human arm, so there shouldn't be many cases of Scenics rolling away and becoming part of the scenery.

Child seats that fit a Renault Scenic (2003 – 2009)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Renault Scenic (2003 – 2009) like to drive?

The Scenic succeeded a Megane Sport Tourer and surprised me by out-handling it. Really, there's not much between this new Scenic and the Ford Focus C-Max. Except that the Renault boys invented this category of car, and have very obviously put everything they learned from the old Scenic into the new one.

So it's now a proper five-seater, rather than a four plus one. It has a Renault hands-free keycard, so you just walk up to the car, open the door and press a button to start the engine. No fiddling around with keys when you're getting in or getting out. The front passenger seatback folds forwards to make a table or an extended load platform. The dash is modern, digital with the readings in the centre. There's an optional lifting rear window so you can just dump stuff in the back without opening the big, heavy hatch. The car scored a full five stars in the NCAP crash tests.

The mammoth lists down below give the equipment and spec variations, so no point in repeating them here. It's very practical. Very comfortable. Rides well (on sensible 60 profile tyres). Handles well. Goes well. These are all aspects that can be dispassionately measured.

But the thing that surprised me was that the car I drove had real character. I simply liked it. That's not something I expected to write about a Renault. And it has a five star NCAP crash safety rating.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.4 16V 39 mpg 14.3 s 171–173 g/km
1.5 dCi 106 52–54 mpg 12.4–12.9 s 137–143 g/km
1.5 dCi 86 55 mpg 14.6 s 135–137 g/km
1.6 16V VVT 36–37 mpg 11.8–12.8 s 173–189 g/km
1.9 dCi 47 mpg 9.6–9.8 s 159–160 g/km
2.0 16V VVT 34–35 mpg 10.3–10.9 s 192–193 g/km
2.0 dCi 49 mpg 9.4–9.8 s 154 g/km

Real MPG average for a Renault Scenic (2003 – 2009)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

24–64 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Renault Scenic (2003 – 2009)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Is a turbo 'whistle' a symptom of turbo failure?

The other day I was driving my 2012 Renault Scenic 1.5 DCi when the Check Anti Pollution System Message came on with a slight loss of power. I managed to get the car to a mechanic. He took the vehicle out on a test ride and everything seemed okay. I was advised to drive as normal and to return if the warning appeared again. On picking the vehicle up, my wife noticed that there was a turbo whistle when changing from second to third and therefore the car was returned back to the mechanic. Have been informed that it's the turbo and have been quoted £700 for this to be sorted. There has been no smoke from the exhaust of any colour and I'm a little dubious as to whether it is the turbo. Any thoughts?
A "turbo whistle" usually indicates a worn and failing turbo bearing, which is pretty much all there is to go wrong with a turbo. They fail because not enough engine oil is getting to the bearing to cool and lubricate it, and the reason for that is usually that the turbo bearing oil feed and oil return pipes are blocked with carbon from switching the engine off when the turbo is too hot. Could be that simply replacing these two pipes will fix it.
Answered by Honest John
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