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Renault Scenic makes transition to electric SUV status. Image by Renault.

Renault Scenic makes transition to electric SUV status
Old MPV Mk4 Scenic is replaced by new two-box, all-electric Renault Scenic E-Tech.
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What's all this about?

This is the new Renault Scenic E-Tech, an all-electric model that’s due to launch in 2024. It has been revealed at the Munich motor show and, well… nope, we can’t avoid it. It’s an SUV. Or at least, it would appear to be.

What do you mean by that?

Renault, presumably stung by the negative reaction when it announced the long-serving Espace was going to morph into an SUV, makes no direct reference to SUVs anywhere in the new Scenic E-Tech press materials. But it’s clear to see that the two-box profile of this vehicle has pushed it far closer to ‘compact SUV’ in shape than ‘amorphous blob MPV’. Of course, many people will be delighted with this alteration, but there will also be plenty of folk who will be sad/angry/incredulous (delete as appropriate, or add your own emotions if you will) at the abandonment of the MPV format.

Sigh. Everything is becoming an SUV these days, isn’t it?

OK, so you’re in the ‘anti-SUV’ camp. And we get that. But to be fair, a lot of the opprobrium that was directed at the Espace Mk6 by UK car critics was, well, a bit odd, if we’re honest. You see, the MPV has been dying out left, right and centre in recent years, squeezed by both buyer apathy and the inexorable rise of the SUV (especially seven-seat variants). It’s not just Renault as a manufacturer who is killing off its MPVs, and even weirder than that was the fact that we’ve not even had the Espace in this country since the Mk4 died off in 2014; we never received the Mk5 here because – yep, you guessed it – Renault didn’t think it worth importing something in right-hand drive that would sell in minuscule numbers. And so it comes to pass that the Scenic, which we did enjoy in its 2016-launched Mk4 MPV format, is now just another SUV.

Right. But presumably there’s lots of interest in its technical make-up?

As the French might say, bien sur. Two all-electric powertrains are offered – hence the ‘E-Tech’ bit of the Scenic’s name – so things kick off with the 125kW (170hp) model, which generates 280Nm of torque. This means it can do 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and run on to a limited top speed of 93mph, although where and why you’d need to do nearly a ton in an EV is beyond us. Coupled to a 60kWh battery pack, Renault is still waiting for full WLTP ratification, but the aim is for this version to have a 260-mile one-shot driving range.

There’s a more potent version of the Scenic E-Tech, though, which has a 160kW (220hp)/300Nm e-motor and a larger 87kWh battery pack. This improves both performance and range, this Renault capable of 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds and a restricted top whack of 106mph, while it is said to be able to go up to 379 miles on a single charge. There are slight variations in maximum charging rate as well, as the Scenic E-Tech 60kWh charges at 130kW DC maximum, while the 87kWh model can run at 150kW DC if needs be. Either way, you’re looking at a good chunk of charge in around half an hour at their maximum charging rates.

OK, sounds decent. And what about the interior? Is it still as practical as it was as an MPV?

Apparently so. Renault says the 4,470mm-long Scenic E-Tech, which is also 1,570mm tall, has as much rear knee- and legroom for passengers as the very best C-segment-sized cars; that’s things like the Renault Megane and Volkswagen Golf, for reference. There’s a 545-litre boot, rising to 1,670 litres with the rear seats folded down, and if that’s not enough cargo-carrying capacity for you then there’s another 38.7 litres of stowage space dotted about the cabin. In terms of tech, the human-machine interface is managed on a 12.3-inch display cluster for the driver with a 12-inch vertical screen for the Google-powered infotainment. That leads to a rather minimalist dashboard, so perhaps you can draw your passengers’ attention to the Solarbay.

The what now?

This is a panoramic glass roof on which you can change the opacity – so, for instance, if it’s a dull day, you can increase the transparency to let light flood into the Scenic E-Tech’s cabin. And if it’s blazing sunshine and the cabin is getting roasting hot, then you can dim the roof down to cut out the Sun’s scorching rays.

B-b-but… that’s not exactly new, is it?

No, but the fact that you can dim specific portions of it is. Sort of. It’s new to Renault, anyway. You see, you can have one of four schemes: all light, all dark, front light and rear dark, front dark and rear light. It’s these panels of various opacity which make the Scenic’s roof a ‘pioneer’ in the industry, apparently. Maybe they haven’t seen the Taycan’s multi-panel roof.

Tidy. And what about that SUV design?

Well, Renault again doesn’t make a big deal of it – there’s no mention of ‘faux skid-plates’ or ‘rugged stance’ or ‘protective body cladding’ to be seen, so perhaps it’s best not to mention the letters ‘S’, ‘U’ and ‘V’ in connection with the Scenic Mk5. At any rate, the body sits on the CMF-EV platform, which means it has a fully flat floor and loads of concessions to aerodynamics to make it go further on a charge – there are air curtains under the front DRLs, for instance, while the larger of two wheel sizes (19s and 20s) has a design with minimal air inlets to reduce turbulence and drag. As is the fashion with EVs these days, the door handles sit flush to the body, too.

OK. Anything else you’d like to add?

The Scenic E-Tech is made up of 24 per cent recycled materials and fully 90 per cent of its mass is recyclable once it reaches the end of its serviceable life. It’s also going to be built in a factory that aims to be carbon neutral by 2025; very ecologically sensible and sustainable, as you’d expect. Oh, and perhaps taking inspiration from BMW’s tie-up with noted film composer Hans Zimmer, the noise that the Scenic E-Tech makes when it is travelling at anything up to 19mph, and also the little welcome sequence of notes it pipes out when you get into it, were all done by fabled French electronica pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre. Yes, the man behind Oxygene. Bet you’ll get that earworm stuck in your head now, eh?

Oh great. Thanks. But is the Scenic still a Scenic if it doesn’t have a big glasshouse?

That’s where you might have got the wrong end of the stick when it comes to where the Renault’s name originated from in 1996. Its name doesn’t have anything to do with the fact you sit up high and have ‘scenic’ views out of the vehicle – in fact, the clue as to its true identity is given by the current version having 30-plus advanced driver assist safety (ADAS) systems fitted to it. And that’s because the Renault mini-MPV, based on the then-contemporary Megane, was actually an acronym of the phrase ‘Safety Concept Embodied in a New Innovative Car’. And that can apply to an electric SUV, just as much as it can to a Megane which facilitates its passengers wearing exceptionally tall hats if they so wish.

Fine. Any prices and specs?

Not as yet, but as we’ve said the Renault Scenic E-Tech is due to go on sale in early 2024, so we expect further details on this in the coming weeks. We’ll bring them to you as we get them.

Matt Robinson - 6 Sep 2023

2024 Renault Scenic E-Tech. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Scenic E-Tech. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Scenic E-Tech. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Scenic E-Tech. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Scenic E-Tech. Image by Renault.

2024 Renault Scenic E-Tech. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Scenic E-Tech. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Scenic E-Tech. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Scenic E-Tech. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Scenic E-Tech. Image by Renault.    - Renault road tests
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