The 1.6-litre Scenic has extra power, but MPV hunters will find it hard to cough up the extra $11,000 for it
Having two more seats may work Renault scenic 2.0, car interior, steering wheel -- PHOTO: RENAULT

SINCE the Multi-Purpose Vehicle is becoming so competitive, auto manufacturers are trying everything they can to stay ahead of the class.

The latest trend is to have enough seats for seven in a mid-sized MPV, and it all started because of the ingenious Opel Zafira.

But while everybody else is working flat out to follow suit or come up with something more clever, Renault has not seemed the least bit bothered by the Zafira's ability to accommodate seven people.

Witness the current Scenic, which is still a five-seater in all guises.

According to Renault's consumer survey, almost 40 per cent of Scenic owners want more space, while only 8 per cent would like seats for two more people.

So instead of bolting on an extra bench to create artificially a seven-person carrier, a set of fatter wheels, sportier suspension and a new engine with variable valve timing has been fitted to its range-topping 2.0-litre model, just introduced here.

It is basically the same 1998 cc 16-valve power plant that powers the 172 bhp Clio RS pocket rocket, but the Scenic's motor is a non-Renault Sport tuned version, pumping out 140 bhp.

Still, it has enough oomph to propel the Scenic from zero to 100 kmh in 10.6 seconds and to a 196 kmh top speed.

The uprated chassis copes with the additional power commendably, keeping the car right on track during most cornering situations. And despite the stiffer suspension set-up, ride quality is pliant.

The other things that mark the 2.0-litre Scenic from the lesser model are the white-faced gauges, front centre armrest and an opening tailgate window.

Which, unfortunately for Renault, is not alluring enough for most local MPV hunters, especially if they have to fork out an extra 11 grand over the 1.6-litre Scenic (which costs $98,900 with COE) just for the extra power.

But throw in an extra bench for two and it would work better, most likely. Chances are, we are the majority of the minority in Renault's consumer survey.

SPECS

SCENIC 2.0

Price: $109,900 with COE

Engine: 1,998 cc, four cylinders, 16 valves, double overhead cams

Max power: 140 bhp at 5,500 rpm

Max torque: 189 Nm at 3,750 rpm

Top speed: 196 kmh

0-100 kmh: 10.6 seconds

For details: Contact Exklusiv Auto on 474-1111