Renault Scenic XMOD review

The most recent model in the Scenic family, Renault’s Scenic XMOD took the regular joe Scenic and added black plastic bumpers and upright styling to reinvigorate the family car with a little extra pizzazz.

Just as the Scenic started off as a play on the Megane before becoming a well-loved model in its own right, so too has the Scenic XMOD become a bona-fide contender in its respective segment.

However, it’s been a couple of years now since the XMOD was introduce, and in the meantime the crossover market has exploded in popularity, with more and more manufacturers cashing in on the increasingly competitive segment.

So does the Scenic XMOD still have what it takes to compete with newer and younger competitors?

Exterior

It can be difficult to make a crossover MPV stand out from the crowd these days, but Renault introduced the Scenic XMOD complete with a new Clio-inspired grille, large Renault badge and sharp styling.

The XMOD also has a ride height 30mm higher than the standard Scenic, plus a range of rugged-looking features like black plastic cladding on the wheel arches, doors and bumpers.

Silver skid plates complete the tough exterior look, leaving the Scenic XMOD with an appearance that’s certainly more distinctive than many other dull-looking crossovers, with just the right blend of family car familiarity and off-roading clobber.

It still keeps the five doors of the regular Scenic, so getting in and out is a breeze, while silver roof rails mean that you can fit extra overhead luggage as and when required. It’s clear that Renault has worked hard to maintain the Scenic’s ease of use, but with just that bit extra on top.

Interior

Like the standard Scenic, practicality is extremely impressive in the Scenic XMOD, with a lot of interior space, plus plenty of leg and head room.

Storage capacity is also great, with a 437 litre boot that can expand to a massive 1,837 litres with the rear seats folded. Trumping the vast majority of its rivals when it comes to stowage, the Scenic XMOD can swallow suitcases and buggies with equal ease.

The cabin is dotted with extra storage bins as well, meaning that for a growing family it’s ideal, and a much wiser choice than most other crossovers at the same price point, particularly if practicality is important.

Large windows mean excellent visibility on the road, while the interior is bedecked with plenty of soft-touch plastic, smart trim and a leather steering wheel.

Two colour screens sit in the centre console; one displays speed and revs, while the other shows sat-nav directions and radio info, while the latter is controlled via a nifty joystick between the front seats.

The list of kit available is also extensive, with even the lowest trims getting air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control, plus 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and an R-Link infotainment system.

Opting for the Dynamique TomTom trim will add automatic headlights and wipers, plus dual-zone climate control and a TomTom navigation system. Range-topping models, meanwhile, come with some distinctly sporty additions, like a flat-bottomed steering wheel and aluminium-capped pedals.

Buyers can also choose from a long list of options, including a special Bose+ pack, which adds 17-inch alloys, keyless entry and rear parking sensors, plus extra styling and a nine-speaker Bose stereo system.

On the road

The problem with MPV people carriers like the regular Renault Scenic is that sometimes they can just seem a bit limp, but the XMOD seeks to address this issue with the addition of some badass bodywork and SUV-inspired features.

Key amongst this is Renault’s Grip Extend feature, an advanced traction control system which aims to ape the effectiveness of four-wheel drive but without the heavy and costly powertrain.

Controlled via the central console with a rotary switch, Grip Extend offers three driving modes: Expert, which can automatically apply brakes, Loose Ground, which optimises torque and braking, and Road, which takes over as the default driving option above 25mph.

Not just style over substance, Grip Extend means that the Scenic XMOD can hold its own in slippery and low-traction environments, though it’s not quite as effective as a full four-wheel drive system.

Aside from that, the XMOD is much like the Scenic on which it’s based, with a range of five engines which include three petrol and two diesel options.

The most efficient of the lot is the 1.6-litre 128bhp diesel, which is the more powerful of the lot with strong gear performance but also economical, managing up to 64.2mpg with CO2 emissions of just 114g/km.

On the road, the Scenic XMOD is a very easy car to drive, with light but precise controls and a decent ride quality thanks to cushy suspension. Particularly rough roads will upset the ride a little bit, but for the most part it’s a quiet, refined and stable car that’s at home in town as it is on the motorway.

It’s large, but it’s not ungainly, meaning that it’s also pretty easy to park, even in urban spaces, while the optional rear parking sensors make it even easier to navigate in tight spots.

Verdict

Injecting the Scenic with a smidgeon more testosterone, Renault has created a fantastic people carrier for families, particularly dads who need to cart their kids around but also long for a little excitement.

Taking the best features that the Scenic has to offer - that is, a massive boot and origami-style folding seat arrangements - and then adding some extra beef on top, the XMOD might be one of the older crossovers on the market, but it’s still alive and kicking in the face of its newer rivals.

Packed with nifty features and powered by some very capable and frugal engines, the Renault Scenic XMOD is perfect for those who want all the benefits of Renault’s flagship mum-mobile, but with a little more substance.


Available to buy from Perrys Renault dealerships now, the current Renault Scenic XMOD range is priced from £19,365.