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Car Chooser

2003 Renault Scenic Expression 2.0 owner review

Philip Roper
  • Space
  • Comfort
  • Visibility
  • Reluctance to use overdrive
  • No standard cruise control
  • Some servicing was tricky

About the Renault Scenic

Philip Roper purchased this Renault Scenic used for $18,000 (including all on-road costs) in 2005. Philip Roper would buy this car again because: “It was the most comfortable, spacious and practical car I have ever had. It had five individual seats and the three in the back were removable. The upright seating position made the best use of all of the interior space and gave everyone a good view out of the large windows.”

How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

The major issue I had with the car was that several times it lost throttle control and would go into limp mode. Mechanics diagnosed a damaged pedal sensor, but this was a symptom and not the cause.

It all eventually turned out to have been caused by poor workmanship from the installer of the aftermarket cruise control, which was organised by the dealer before I bought the car. Poor soldering into the throttle wiring loom had caused the fault, and I only worked it out when I had already agreed to sell the car years later.

Otherwise it was relatively trouble-free.

What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

Apart from the disconcerting unreliability that wasn’t the fault of the car (see above), it was brilliant. I could fit heaps in it, it was perfect as a family car, it had storage compartments all over the place – including capacity for six wine bottles, one in each door and two slots behind the rear seats (Not going to ask why you know that – Ed.) – it handled brilliantly and it had six airbags and five headrests.

It was much safer and more practical than anything else I could have bought at the time.

Replacing the timing belt (which had to happen three times while I owned it) was a tricky affair, and only a specialist mechanic could do it properly.

Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

It was very well equipped for the money. The flexible and comfortable seating alone made it worth buying, but it also had the best audio remote control I have ever used. It could all be operated by feel, without looking at the controller (which was largely hidden behind the steering wheel).

Flat load floor, two-height parcel shelf, drawers under both front seats, full-width compartment under rear seats, bins in floor in front of rear seats, electronic oil level gauge (!), even tray tables for rear seats were included and this was the bare-bones standard model.

I would have liked a manual shift option for the automatic, because it never liked being in fourth gear below about 75km/h, but it was otherwise great.

What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

It had exactly the right amount of power and torque for its size and design. It was able to tow capably, and it never felt sluggish or slow.

It averaged 9.5-10L/100 km while I had it, which is a lot these days but was good for a pretty tall MPV over a decade ago. Especially as its engine was quite an old design.

What do you think of the technology in your car?

This car had no elaborate technology, but all of its basic technology was very well designed. The remote control for the sound system provided radio station/track skip, volume, source selction and muting all with a few buttons and a wheel, and it stayed in the same position regardless of the steering wheel’s angle of rotation.

What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

The suspension was really well designed. The rear torsion beam suspension may have been cheap, but it facilitated a wide, flat floor in the rear and it really worked well on winding roads. On unsealed surfaces, the car did tend toward lift-off oversteer, so we had to be careful of that (there was no ESP), but otherwise it felt solid and dependable on all roads.

The suspension and the seats combined in a very French way to make it a very comfortable long distance vehicle. Its short overall length (shorter than a Toyota Echo sedan of the same vintage) made it easy to park. Short rear overhang made it particularly good for reversing trailers.

Do you have any additional comments about your car?

This car remains the most spacious, comfortable and practical car I have ever owned. The seating was genius and no other maker has ever come close to copying it.

Sadly, nobody even tries now. Even Renault doesn’t sell the Scenic anymore. I’m tempted to find a used one and buy it, that’s how much I miss it.

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Show Breakdown
Technology 10
Reliability 7
Ride & Handling 8.5
Price & Features 8.5
Performance & Economy 8.5
Ownership Experience 10