First Drive

First Drive: Renault Scenic Hybrid Assist

The story:
Renault becomes one of the early adopters of 48-volt mild hybrid battery technology, applying it to the Scenic and Grand Scenic MPVs to cut emissions.
Key rival:Citroen C4 Picasso
Renault Scenic 110 DCI Hybrid Assist Dynamique S
On sale:Now

Mild hybrid technology is the next step in improving efficiency, employing a small electric motor to work with the regular petrol or diesel engine to provide a low-emission performance boost.

Renault Scenic 110 DCI Hybrid Assist Dynamique S - Image 4Renault is at the forefront, with its Scenic and Grand Scenic models among the first in the industry to benefit. The battery is fitted behind the second row of seats in the Scenic, or in the spare wheel housing on the seven-seat Grand Scenic. It is available on the 110hp diesel engine and adds £1,000 to the price of the regular car.

The tech cuts emissions to just 94g/km on both models, dropping the Scenic by 6g/km and the Grand Scenic by 10g/km. It also takes the official fuel economy figure beyond 80mpg, from 72.4mpg and 70.7mpg on the Scenic and Grand respectively.

The system augments the diesel engine to boost acceleration from low revs, and then recoups the energy when the car decelerates. It’s basically, as the name suggests, a milder version of hybrid systems already out there, and rather than actually running the car on electric power alone, it’s just a booster for the engine.

It’s also worth noting that the mild hybrid system means the car is classed as an alternatively fuelled vehicle, so saves £10 per year on Vehicle Excise Duty.

The system saves company car drivers money, too, with BIK taxation dropping by £5 per month on the Scenic and £6 on the Grand Scenic for a 20% tax payer; the cut in tax band more than wipes out the higher P11D price. But for a fleet, the non-hybrid version’s lower list price makes it fractionally cheaper to run.Renault Scenic 110 DCI Hybrid Assist Dynamique S - Image 1

To drive, there’s a degree more shove, but otherwise the system is decidedly unobtrusive, going about its business with minimal fuss and requiring no change to driving style.

The Scenic continues to be an MPV that looks great, probably the smartest-looking of its ilk, but lacking a little in some of the more practical elements that these cars are chosen for, with interior space and usability not up with the best rivals’.


Paul Barker

The verdict

Clever technology, but the price gap needs to close a bit to make the mild hybrid the obvious fleet choice.