Renault Megane Scenic – 1996

Every carmaker’s dream is to think up a car that creates a lucrative new market segment. And that’s precisely what Renault achieved with the Megane Scenic, which proved there was much demand for a smaller version of the increasingly popular MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle). Following its launch in 1996, the Megane Scenic was an instant hit with the buying public, creating a popular new compact MPV category that would swiftly be imitated by other manufacturers.

The Scenic was based on the Megane hatchback (the two models were mechanically identical), so the clever part lay in the creation of a five-door body shape and roomy internal layout for the new car. Renault had already helped to pioneer the full-sized MPV concept with the well-received Espace, and the Scenic cashed in on that established reputation. It appealed to those who didn’t need (or couldn’t afford) the larger vehicle and its favourable reception took Renault by surprise — they expected the Scenic to be a niche product and started building under 500 per day at their Douai factory, but buoyant demand soon saw that number increase dramatically.

Buyers had a choice of economical engines. There were three petrol engines, at 1.4, 1.6 and 2 litres respectively, and one 1.9 litre diesel — also from the Megane hatchback range. The Scenic’s engine was up front, driving the front wheels. The first evolution was in 1999, when these engines were uprated and the Scenic was significantly restyled.

After the 1999 facelift the model name was officially changed to a stand-alone Scenic, though a small Megane badge on the rear door reminded everyone of its illustrious ancestry. An all-new Scenic was launched in 2003, along with a seven-seater Grand Scenic, both cars being packed with the latest user-friendly technology. There was a further upgrade in 2006.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

France (also built in Brazil)

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1996

ENGINE:

1,390, 1,598 cc or 1,998 cc l Straight Four; 1,870 cc Straight Four Diesel

PERFORMANCE:

With 2 l engine — top speed of 114 mph (183 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 10.7 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Renault tried to repeat the trick of inventing a popular new type of car by launching a four-wheel drive version of the Scenic called the RX4, hoping the public would take to the idea of a compact SUV — but this time the venture was unsuccessful and the Rx4 was soon discontinued.

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