Looking good

Fam­i­lies will en­joy the Scenic, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars -

FIND­ING the best trans­port for your fam­ily has al­ways been dif­fi­cult. Once there was the sta­tion­wagon, un­til it be­came bet­ter known as a rep’s car. Then there was the four-wheel drive, un­til most of us worked out it was too ex­pen­sive to run and of­ten wasn’t big enough any­way and, of course, there was the peo­ple-mover, which felt like driv­ing a van.

Fam­ily trans­port has never been cool, at least not un­til car­mak­ers re­alised there was a need for cars ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing a fam­ily while be­ing safe and ap­peal­ing.

The Re­nault Scenic is one of th­ese. It will swal­low a fam­ily, it isn’t huge and un­wieldy to drive and, be­ing based on a Re­nault passenger car plat­form, has de­cent road man­ners.

MODEL WATCH

THE Scenic was a ru­n­away suc­cess when launched in Europe in 1996 and in no time at all im­i­ta­tions were ev­ery­where.

It was es­sen­tially an upright-styled mini­wagon built on a sedan plat­form.

In­side, the Scenic re­ally came into its own. With a flex­i­ble, and adapt­able seat­ing ar­range­ment it could ac­com­mo­date five, or seven in three rows of seat­ing that could be split and folded, even re­moved, to suit the num­ber of peo­ple who needed to be trans­ported and the gear to go along with them.

It was sen­si­ble trans­port, but with a touch of French flair to take some of the edge off it.

At launch power was de­liv­ered by a 1.6-litre four-cylin­der en­gine putting out 79kW and 148Nm, but this was re­placed in 2003 by a 2.0-litre unit de­vel­op­ing 101kW and 188Nm.

It could be linked to a five-speed man­ual gear­box or a four-speed auto, with drive through the front wheels. A high-rid­ing 4x4 model had all-wheel drive.

Re­nault of­fered three lev­els of equip­ment and all mod­els had plenty of stan­dard fea­tures.

The base Ex­pres­sion had air­con­di­tion­ing, power win­dows and mir­rors, cen­tral lock­ing, tilt-ad­justable steer­ing wheel and height- ad­justable driver’s seat, trip com­puter and a chilled stor­age com­part­ment.

Add cli­mate-con­trolled air­con­di­tion­ing, a CD player, leather and al­loys and you had the Dy­namique. At the top of the range the Priv­i­lege had re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, rear sun­shade and a cen­tral arm­rest.

In a 2002, roof rails were in­tro­duced on all mod­els, and twin sun­roofs on the Priv­i­lege.

ON THE LOT

START the Scenic jour­ney with the Ex­pres­sion at $8500-$17,500, move on to the Dy­namique at $9500-$20,000, and com­plete the trip in the Priv­i­lege at $10,000-$22,000.

The 4x4 can be had from $11,000-$18,500.

IN THE SHOP

BE­FORE buy­ing any Re­nault, check where you can get it ser­viced, and it’s worth find­ing out how com­pe­tent they are, per­haps by talk­ing to an ex­ist­ing cus­tomer. Re­nault isn’t well ser­viced by dealers out­side the main cities and it’s im­por­tant to know those wield­ing the span­ners re­ally know the make.

Too many own­ers re­port hav­ing se­ri­ous en­gine dam­age be­cause the cam-tim­ing belt has snapped while they’re driv­ing.

The Scenic’s in­te­rior tends to wilt un­der the Aus­tralian sun so look for signs of wear and tear on the trim and bro­ken or buck­led plas­tics.

IN A CRASH

THE Scenic has front and side front airbags for both oc­cu­pants. Anti-lock brakes were stan­dard, along with elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion for added safety un­der brak­ing.

AT THE PUMP

THE 2.0-litre en­gine is eco­nom­i­cal in gen­eral use, so ex­pect to get 8.0-9.5 litres for 100km, de­pend­ing on the type of driv­ing.

OWN­ERS’ SAY

DANIEL Hale bought his 2001 Scenic 4x4 18 months ago and en­joys it very much. The han­dling is great, no mat­ter the qual­ity of the road, and the 4WD is good for light off-road work. Though the 2.0-litre en­gine won’t win any speed con­tests, he has pulled a laden trailer with no prob­lems. It is roomy and he likes the abil­ity to in­di­vid­u­ally pull out the back seats.

He says it gets 8.2 litres/100km on the high­way and 9.2 litres/100km in town. The cam belt once snapped af­ter be­ing in­cor­rectly in­stalled and the en­gine had to be re­built. Apart from that, there have been few me­chan­i­cal prob­lems and it’s now done 170,000km.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

ROOMY in­te­rior with flex­i­ble seat­ing makes the Scenic ideal fam­ily trans­port.

Fam­ily friendly: the Scenic looks good and trans­ports up to seven peo­ple in com­fort — and (be­low) the high-rid­ing all-wheel-drive model.

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