Renault's Scenic range has been rationalised in New Zealand with the introduction of the diesel model. Savagely rationalised — the diesel model is the only one available…
But that certainly isn't a problem, because the diesel would certainly be the pick of the range anyway, even if there was a choice.
The 1.9-litre oil-burner slotted into the innards of the Scenic provides almost the same amount of power as the previous petrol (96kW versus 98kW) and a whole lot more torque (250Nm versus 191Nm) nicely fixing one of the petrol version's faults: it struggled when things got hilly, and was very vocal and strained when pushed.
Not the diesel donk. It rumbles along nicely, riding the torque wave up hills and out of corners. The quiet, effortless engine combines with the beautifully balanced chassis — that manages an almost perfect ride/handling mix — to offer up a surprisingly capable little car. One surprisingly capable of getting you into trouble with Big Brother too — the Scenic can effortlessly cruise at excess speeds all day, and is also a surprising amount of fun to tip into a corner…
But the diesel-powered Scenic's bigget fault is the same as the petrol's — the indecisive four-speed autobox. At least one cog too few and a bizarre tendency to hold gears too long (it will only kick down or shift up when it is good and ready, thank you…) is frustrating, but doesn't ultimately ruin the driving experience.
The fantastically flexible interior stays the same, and is as wonderfully comfortable and user-friendly as ever, although despite a number of very clever features, you sometimes get the impression that "doing something better" has been confused with "doing something different".
Renault Scenic Diesel
Engine: 1.9-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel, 96kW @ 4250rpm, 250Nm @ 1600rpm
Transmission: Four-speed automatic
Fuel Consumption: 7.1L/100km