Renault Scenic XMOD first driveRenault’s third generation Scenic and Grand Scenic are essentially five and seven seat MPVs – or ‘people carriers’

but there is now a sub sector version of the Scenic, the strangely named XMOD which sounds like an army surplus buy.

 

This version blurs still further the sectors for MPVs and SUV crossovers. We have had SUVs/4x4s that have become seven-seaters so mixing part off road part family bus, now we have the Scenic XMOD five door, a five seater MPV on higher suspension with a few skid protection plates and a clever traction control system which crosses the boundary from compact MPV to become a lightweight SUV/crossover.

 

Both the MPV and crossover sections of the new car market have continued to grow as families move to vehicles which offer more space with active lifestyle looks and with better traction to combat bad winter road conditions or cope with recreational pursuits.

 

To expand the picture about the five seater Scenic, it is the fourth model launched in Renault’s C-segment Meganne family following the Hatch, Coupe and Grand Scenic. The Scenic, priced from £19,155 to £22,195, comes with one level of specification, Dynamique TomTom with a choice of five engines, 1.2 TCe direct injection turbo petrol through to 1.6 dCi diesel. The Grand Scenic seven seater is similar for engines and spec choice and costs £20,355 to £23,395.

 

Renault Scenic XMOD first driveRenault Scenic XMOD first driveNow we have the Scenic XMOD, priced from £17,955 to £22,100, with Expression+ and Dynamique TomTom core levels of specification plus several lifestyle option packs. Depending on the spec chosen there are five engine options, like the other two Scenic line-ups. Six speed manual gearboxes are standard on all models although the 1.5 dCi 110 turbodiesel unit has the £1,100 extra cost option of a six speed auto.

 

The new Scenic XMOD is the first vehicle in the Renault range to feature the all-new Grip Xtend system. This front wheel drive traction control function enables the vehicle to grip the road more confidently under difficult driving conditions such as mud, ice, standing water and fresh snow. Venturing off road it will improve traction in sand and on muddy tracks or wet grass.

 

Manually activating the rotary control positioned on the centre console, the driver can choose from three types of assistance. In ‘Expert’ mode, Grip Xtend manages the braking system, while leaving the driver in full control of the engine torque. The ‘Road’ mode offers conventional traction control settings and this mode automatically reconnects at speeds of over 25mph. The ‘Loose Ground’ mode optimises braking control and engine torque control depending upon the available grip. The standard 16-inch wheels are fitted with mud and snow tyres.

 

I have just had a Wintery driving spell in the Scenic XMOD 1.5 dCi 110 Stop & Start manual with Dynamique TomTom specification plus the £1,500 Bose+ Pack and a few more options such as the emergency spare wheel, electric panoramic sunroof and metallic paint. As standard the car costs £21,095 but with the Bose+ Pack and other extras that price ballooned to £25,695. For that amount of money we are well into the Nissan Qashqai plus other 4WD crossover model prices.

 

The core features of the Scenic XMOD include antilock braking, Grip Xtend traction control, cruise control and speed limiter, stability control, hill start assist, front fog lights, Bluetooth, a full range of airbags, air conditioning, electric windows and door mirrors and synthetic leather and fabric upholstery. Dynamique TomTom adds, as its name suggests, live-time navigation, 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers and automatic air conditioning.

 

Going for the ‘full monty’ Bose+ Pack spec you get a Bose sound system with nine speakers, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated and folding door mirrors, keyless entry with push-button start, roof bars, rear parking sensors, suede and synthetic leather upholstery, flat bottomed sports steering wheel, aluminium pedals and gear knob plus XMOD kick plates.

 

Owners of the Scenic XMOD shouldn’t get carried away with the added traction capabilities. It worked fine in a simple sort of way with just a bit more grip than a conventional front wheel drive vehicle. It will sharpen up the steering grip on ice, help pull away from standstill in mud and snow, reduce aquaplaning in standing water but it is no off-roader or even designed to be one. It looks purposeful with its taller stance and protection plates but it didn’t stand out visually as either a crossover or an MPV.

 

Renault Scenic XMOD first driveRenault Scenic XMOD first driveRenault Scenic XMOD first driveInside it is relatively roomy with seating for five with the three rear seats folding independently. With the rear seats in use there is 470-litres of space but with them folded this goes up to a huge 1,845-litres which is impressive for a vehicle of 4.4-metres in length. In addition there are lots of storage pockets and compartments so it is family friendly. The instruments are clear to see, the multitude of steering column mounted controls less so. The most annoying feature was the Lane Departure Warning alerts which didn’t appear as though it could be switched off. With no handbook supplied in the car I did discover it was listed in the on-board computer functions but with no way of un-ticking its option box. Its warning chime was really annoying, intrusive and far too sensitive – it went off without even crossing the white lines of a driving lane.

 

As for driving, in its XMOD form the Scenic has lost some of its ride comfort and handling finesse. Being on a taller suspension increases cornering body roll and the larger 17-inch option wheels created a firm and not very compliant ride. It’s a bit of a compromise going the XMOD route with the Scenic. I can see it will have some appeal for rural dwellers but in the main the shift from a people-carrier to a crossover with added grip doesn’t really work in this country. In France I have seen lots of these models being used for rural travel as they cope better with the rural tracks away and the large interior space is good for carrying children to school and home produced produce to the weekly local market.

 

The 1.5-litre dCi common rail turbodiesel engine is well known in the Renault, Nissan and now Dacia ranges and has a reputation for being responsive for its size with the potential for really good fuel economy with low CO2 emissions. In the Scenic XMOD the 110hp version seemed to struggle at times. The final drive gearing, or perhaps the fourth to sixth gear ratios, are too high. This is done to achieve attractive official fuel economy and low CO2 figures. But in use driving on rural A/B roads was really tiresome with the constant need to change up and down gears. The 240Nm, (177lb ft) of torque should easily have coped with providing acceleration without dropping down two gears. It didn’t seem to be that fuel efficient in real-life conditions either. Officially this model will return 68.9mpg in the Combined Cycle. My test driving covering motorways, A/B roads with some short runs resulted in a poor 45.9mpg average and for most of the time that was only with me in the car so no passengers adding weight. With CO2 emissions of 110g/km VED road tax is £0 in the First Year rate and then only £20 per annum for year two onwards. As for top speed it is officially 112mph so the legal 70mph cruising speed on motorways was coped with easily. The zero to 62mph acceleration time of 12.3 seconds was no more than adequate. Whether it’s the size, weight, mud/snow tyres or gearing that has dulled this engine’s performance it is difficult to say, it just wasn’t that enjoyable to drive.

 

If an SUV/crossover is required the new Renault Captur is a better and cheaper option, if it’s an MPV model wanted then the standard Renault Scenic is the best option. Combining the crossover and MPV styles with the Scenic XMOD didn’t work for me. This version sits ‘on the fence’ so it’s a bit of a compromise and not a cheap one at that.

 

MILESTONES. Renault Scenic XMOD Dynamique TomTom 1.5 dCi 110 Bose+ Pack. Price as tested: £25,695. Engine/transmission: 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, common rail direct injection turbodiesel, 110hp, 240Nm (177lb ft) of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual with Grip Xtend traction control. Performance: 112mph, 0-62mph 12.3 seconds, 68.9mpg (45.9mpg on test), CO2 110g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £20 per annum year two onwards. Insurance group: 19. Warranty: 4-years/10,000 miles. Dimensions/capacities, L 4,372mm, H 1,656mm, W 1,845mm, 5-doors/5-seats, boot/load space 470 to 1,870-litres. For: Extends the choice of models in the Scenic range, low tax, Grip Xtend added traction system, roomy, lots of load space, well equipped, chunky rugged styling. Against: Expensive over other Scenic models, sluggish engine response at low to medium speeds due to high gearing, not very fuel frugal in real-life motoring conditions, harsh ride due to 17-inch option wheels and mud/snow tyres, no way to switch off the intrusive Lane Departure warning. Miles Better News Agency

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