2003 Renault Scenic Expression 1.6 16v petrol from UK and Ireland


Underrated, cheap car


Crank position sensor causing repeated no start, cleaned OK with WD40 and not happened since. Cost pennies to fix.

Blocked fuel injector, causing severe lack of power/misfire. Cost £115 to replace injector at Renault specialist.

Heater fan 'failed' for a couple of weeks, before starting again.

Snapped rear shock absorber. Cost £45.

A/C inoperative due to faulty weld on the drier. Not fixed yet, but shouldn't be much.

CD changed cartridge jammed in player. Not fixed yet.

Misfire from fault coils. Cost £120 for 4 new ones from a local Motor Factors, and a couple of minutes to change them out.

Read boot button popped out. Cost pennies, it's a simple repair involving replacing an O ring that has perished. It's so easy.

Battery failed to hold charge. Cost £90.

General Comments:

This is the last of the old shape, and looks and feels cosy in Dune with beige/green velour interior. Can't stand 'cheapo' grey in any car.

Good looking, relatively stylish small MPV. Did consider a Citroen Picasso, but the looks were ghastly, and worse, the interior trim quality was horrible. Also my wife didn't like how far away the windscreen was.

Nice interior, but too many squeaks and rattles on rough roads.

More power would be nice, but it's only a 1.6 in quite a heavy vehicle. Its a flexible unit though, you can be lazy and put it in high gear at low revs, or race along at 4,500 revs holding the gears. It can be a noisy unit though.

Most people jump into Citroen Picassos, purely as they see the Scenic as woeful reliability, and too small. My own opinion was that the Picasso is plain ugly, and materials felt too cheap. The Scenic is smaller, but has more style, and felt calming to sit it. As I drive it solely, other than the dogs in the boot, the small middle seat didn't matter to me. The driving position can take awhile to get comfy, but then the miles fly by.

There are complaints about cost of repairs, but I've had the common ones and PITY anyone daft enough to put these simple repairs to garage. I've read reviews where people paid stupid amounts for coil replacement, crankshaft throttle position replacement, or boot button replacement. People, there is NO NEED to be fleeced this way.

There are complaints about gear change quality, but I hate manual cars, but have no real complaint and don't find it vague. It can be a bit recalcitrant when cold, but a quite jab on the throttle sees the gear selected just fine.

I also have an aversion to modern diesels. Diesels just aren't made how they used to be! Someone buying a diesel wants economy, fair enough, but when a stressed modern diesel fails, it's going to be expensive. I'd rather take the economy hit and a more reliable engine. The car's cheaper to buy in petrol form too.

Scenics have problems with sunroofs, autoboxes, and diesels, so I bought a non-sunroof, manual, petrol. It's not been perfect, but it's never left me stranded, and I drive a fast 40 miles a day, dual carriageway to work.

I think you have to be reasonable about repairs, and don't abuse items such as the gearbox, never force gears in for example.

The only concern I actually have is that they all seem to rust from the rear arches, and although mine hasn't yet, I am nervous.

To sum up, I was concerned about running a Renault, but now I'm not.

I average 36 mpg.

Forget the hype and get a petrol one, lacking in torque true, but cheaper, more reliable and more refined than a diesel.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st February, 2010

3rd Mar 2010, 10:47

I think you've done the sensible thing going for a base spec model. The fewer electrics on a Renault, the better.

I think this is why you see so many elderly Renaults still plodding around happily in France. They almost always tend to be basic models without all the gadgets that British buyers obsess over, and which, on a Renault, are pretty much guaranteed to fail catastrophically at some point.

I also think the Scenic I is a better built, more reliable car than the Scenic II. There are lots of disappointed Scenic II owners (I was one), and have you noticed how few Scenic III's are on the road? The I and II were everywhere within a year of launch. I suspect the II was bought by happy Scenic I owners looking to upgrade, only to have such a terrible experience that they have deserted the brand. On paper, the Scenic III is a corker, and it's cheap for what it is. So why isn't it selling?

23rd May 2010, 16:49

Update to my original review: Last month a severe misfire happened, and as the pollution light flashed, as it did when the injector blocked, I assumed another had blocked. Nope, coil 2 had failed only 8 months and 7,000 miles in, so I got a free replacement after waving my receipt at the car parts place I bought them from. Then this month number 4 coil let go after 8,000 miles and 9 months. More receipt waving got me another free replacement coil. I guess these will all go soon. They were branded CK and were £20 each, which is cheap, I can only guess other brands are more reliable.

This car is on HP and I will probably be handing it back soon as I'm halfway though (without penalty), as for what I owe on it I can get a newer smaller car which is cheaper to tax, and run as my wife (who chose the Scenic!!!) never wanted to drive it as it felt too big. If I kept it, it would be on 100,000 miles when paid for, and I don't want to pay £500 for a clutch change. It's also smaller than I'd want.... no need for the space.. it's just if I was buying it for me, I would have got another Chrysler Grand Voyager, and the seat comfort of the Scenic is often at odds with my back, seeming encouraging a slouched driving position.

I will be sorry to see it go, but then I can fix my Jag XJS V12 :) And pay fuel rather than finance.

Come on who wouldn't...? Well that's the plan, I'll see if I can carry it out!

2003 Renault Scenic Fidji 1.6 petrol from UK and Ireland


A great little car ruined by daft faults


On both my Scenics, one of the lightweight rear suspension units has snapped off just under the top fixing position, needing replacement. Annoying when you're on holiday and you end up renting a car.

The other recurrent problem with both cars is the dreaded Renault coil failure, 3 on my first one and 3 on this one. You don't need all 4 replacing and it pays you to always carry a spare from a cheaper source than a dealership, who charge through the nose.

The driver's window will not stop where you want it to.

The eccentric to-one-side driver's seating position can give you back ache on a long run.

The rear window exhaust suction problem defeats the point of having rear windows that open.

General Comments:

This is a great little car spoiled by some fairly big problems that Renault should have sorted out a long time ago.

It's nippy in traffic and great to drive on the motorway, but sure eats up fuel if you put your foot down.

I won't be getting another because of its problems, which is a shame since when it is going OK, I love driving it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 23rd October, 2009

6th Apr 2011, 05:21

I have the 1.4 16v Fidji version of this car and had nothing but trouble with it since day 1.

So far I have fitted a new steering rack, fuel pump and fuel lines, trackrod ends, wheel bearings on the front both sides, wiring loom redone, alternator, front swing arm, goes through brakes like there's no tomorrow, the same with fuel consumption. Plus the stereo is knackered, it keeps saying error.

Rubbish car. Don't touch it with a 1000ft barge pole!