Tested: Renault Scénic XMod Cross image

- Monovolume with “mini-suv” air

Unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, this is the new Renault Scénic XMod Cross, a sort of MPV that tries to be a crossover somehow. Basically the fresh automaker is proposing a Scénic that comes with raised ground clearance, chunkier bumpers and wheelarch cladding, and chrome-finish roof bars. But that’s not all. In addition Renault is also seeking to attract more customers by equipping the Scenic XMOD with technologies previously reserved for its high-end models.

The reason? Simple – Renault is trying to maintain its position as a leader in Europe’s medium minivan segment; and considering that the medium minivan segment fell 7.8 percent last year but the crossover-styled segment is growing – this strategy might work.

Engine, transmission and Extended Grip
We’ve tested the Energy 110cv S&S model – it comes with the 1.5 liter DCI engine that is capable of 81 kw or 110 hp. Considering that this vehicle was designed for families I’m not going to tell you how fast this is ( ok – it accelerates to 100 km/h in about 12 seconds ).

So we’ve decided to take a trip from Milan to Livigno, a route that comprises both highway and country roads. The car feels agile and at speeds of 100 – 130 km/h the engine stays at low rpm’s that will contribute to low fuel consumption. We’re getting to Bormio, one of the most important skiing resorts in Italy. From here to Livigno we have 40 km of more challenging roads. Almost instantly we understand that you have to keep the engine at over 2000 rpm to get some traction. Less than 2100 rpm is almost impossible to accelerate and you need to change to a lower gear.
So if you’re living somewhere near the mountains I suggest you to get the more powerful 1.6 dCi 130 hp version that will cost you about 1,500 euro more – but it will be worth it, trust me.

The gearbox is soft, and the only problem is that sometimes you may change to a wrong gear – for example instead of getting from five to four you may get to the second gear. Same happens when you want to get into the first gear from neutral – sometimes you get into third gear. Basically it takes some time to get used to the gearbox.

The car comes with Extended Grip – something similar to Peugeot’s Grip Control available on the new 2008. You can choose between three traction modes: Road Mode, Loose Ground and Expert mode.

In “Road Mode” the system will cut power if a wheel loses traction. All that power will be transferred to the other wheels. In “road” mode the ESC and ASR work automatically and control both trajectory and traction.
When the driver activates “lose ground” mode, the system takes full control of the wheels. The aim of this “ASR+” is to help the vehicle move forward, improve the traction on hard terrains; it acts on the 2 front wheels.
“Expert” mode is activated when the driver wants to take control of difficult driving conditions himself. The driver maintains full control over engine torque. In this mode, the driver’s action on the accelerator pedal will determine the vehicle’s progress over difficult terrain.

Suspension, handling, breaking
Soft is the right word here again. It comes with M+S 215/60 tires which together with the soft suspension setup will make you float over bumpy roads without any problem. However this character will make the car loose some points when it comes to handling. But again, this is a family car so nobody is interested if this one is capable to pass the cornering test at speeds over 70 km/h for example. The steering is slow, and many times it doesn’t inspire confidence.

Fuel consumption
According to Renault, on the highway the new Scenic will do 100 km with 3.9 liters. During our tests we’ve recorded 4.2 liters / 100 km – so only 0.3 liters / 100 km of difference. During rush-hours in Milan we achieved 5.5 to 6 liters / 100 km.
Official figures: urban: 4.5 – extraurban: 3.9 – medium fuel consumption: 4.1

Interior and gadgets
Overall ambiance is nice as Renault installed quality plastics inside. Also you have large windows – so expect great visibility. Front seats are fine but the lumbar support is not as great as we expected.
There are two central color screens – one for the speedometer and one for the sat-navigation and radio. The latter is controlled with a joystick that’s between the front seats, just behind the gearbox. It’s easy to browse between the screens (you can rotate the knob and also move up and down between rows), but at the beginning you may be distracted from driving while searching the buttons…

Our car came with Renault’s R-Link – you have CarminatTomTomnavi, steering wheel-mounted controls, speech recognition, USB connection, and Bluetooth connectivity. Nothing new here – but the system allows you to install more than 50 applications. In addition R-Link’s Driving eco² screen will help you to drive economically.

On the back there are three individual seats – you can fold them down completely, but you can’t fold them into the floor; however you can remove them completely in case you need more space.

Cargo Space
With the rear seats in position, you have enough space to carry all your stuff – more precisely the boot will hold a useful 555 liters. However if you fold down the back seats will get 1.837 liters – and you still have the possibility to completely remove the back seats for about 2.037 liters.

Direct competitors:Ford C-Max/Grand C-Max, VW Touran, Citroen C4 Picasso/Grand Picasso, Peugeot 5008

Like / Dislike:
Plus for: easy access as the car is a little bit higher, hill assist that is great, low fuel consumption and for the Extended Grip system
Minus for: Gearbox, low-resolution camera, steering

Tested vehicles: Renault Scénic Xmod Cross 1.5 dCi 110 cv S&S Energy: Eur: 25.950