To be or not to be

To be or not to be

The XMod is a different kind of Scénic. Unsurprisingly though, being a regular Scénic is what it does best

For those – like me – who hoped the crossover was just a passing trend look no further than the new Renault Scénic XMod. Not only are we being flooded with new crossovers on a weekly basis from all market segments of almost every constructor, apparently they are not enough.

Somebody at Renault thought the Captur was not selling enough units – although they cannot keep up with demand – and must have seen the turning of the Scénic MPV into a crossover as a good idea.
For a best selling model in its segment that has been a reference for many years, it seems a bit weird that someone would want to take its identity away with mostly some bumpers of questionable taste. Still, my parents told me not to judge a book by its cover and it was I who phoned Renault and invited myself to drive it.

Life, as it happens, doesn’t like us to make too many plans and so, instead of my usual test-drive routine (yes, I have one), for the four days the Scénic slept in my garage circumstances dictated my daughter to be sick, so the Renault was dragged back and forth to the paediatrician’s and the hospital.

This means getting in, getting out, loading the car, unloading it and parking where possible and as fast as my talent at the wheel – or the lack of it – would allow me to. And you know what? The Scénic XMod was fantastic at it. One of the greatest family cars I have ever driven.

If you consider value for money, well, then I am not sure it is not the greatest. As a family tool the Scénic takes some beating and it is easy to see why Renault hasn’t changed the recipe too much since its launch – 17 years ago.
Of course this is not a car you buy with your heart, nor do you dream of owning one, but not everything can be an emotional product. The Scénic has got so much going for it on the rational side it doesn’t seem to make sense to even get into the whole emotional experience thing. It’s a tool and it works – period.

That is all very nice, you say, but what about the XMod factor? Well, I see it as more of a matter of taste than need and I’ll tell you why. I think more people will buy the XMod over a regular Scénic because they like the way it looks and the fact it is different than out of a real need to take their car off-road.

It has more showroom appeal and stands out where a regular Scénic would blend in and that is it.

For those who do want to venture into the wild, however, it is not without solutions. The Extended Grip system offers three modes – Road, Loose Ground and Expert – and you can adapt it according to how rough the surface gets. It works through a selector on the centre console and it is actually quite effective. Along with it, the XMod comes with modified front and rear bumpers and black roof bars.

Our press car also had the Safety Pack, including the park assistant with rear camera and the Visio System. Price is just above €30,000, which is roughly the same as a standard 1.5 dCI Scénic with 110 horse power. Me? I would go for the normal car. It excels in doing what it was built to do and doesn’t shout ‘look at me’ like the XMod does. I value that.

If you really want a crossover get a Captur. It drives well, is very efficient and looks cooler than any MPV. The boot is not as big as the Scénic’s 550 litres but hey, that is why it is called a crossover: in the crossing, you win some and lose some.

All things considered, I can see the appeal of the XMod if you have to buy a family car but want some added spice. Either way, and this is the only thing that really matters, a Scénic is a Scénic and that, dear reader, is a very good thing for families everywhere.

By Guilherme Marques