We drove the new Renault Scenic 110 dCi Hybrid Assist: French genius

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Cleverness is not lost on French automakers. And when it comes to making a hybrid with diesel power, the Renault engineers had something up their sleeve…The new Scenic Hybrid Assist exactly fills the bill, as it responds ideally to what the average buyer is looking for today when it comes to integrating E-power into its everyday mobility. Of course, Renault is on the forefront in EV technology, and has introduced its all-electric Zoé already in 2012. But it also knows that there is more, last but not least to offer affordable and clever hybrid propulsion.

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As the Scénic is now after 20 succesful years in its fourth generation, it was a good occasion to introduce this technology on this bestseller. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

There is truth in simplicity…

The Renault hybrid system is simple and o so clever. It is coupled to the well known and proven 1,5 liter dCi turbodiesel engine which powers Dacia’s, Nissans and even Mercedes A class cars, good for 110 hp at 4000 rpm and not less than 260 Nm of torque at 1750 rpm.

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On the top left corner you see clearly the arrow indicator which lights up to indicate whether the system is delivering power to the drivetrain or is (re)charging… 

The E-power part consists of a 48 volt battery which lives under the trunk floor, which feeds a 10 kW electric motor installed under the hood next to the engine. There is also a generator and a converter module which turns the 48 Volts into 12-volt current. The 10 kW motor delivers its power to the drivetrain via a V belt, a very simple but effective solution. The whole system weighs merely 50 kilo’s, and will surely find its way in (many) other Renaults in the future.

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Under the hood, the hybrid system is virtually unseen…

The Mégane and the Talisman, together with the Espace are likely candidates in the near future. The engine in this Scénic is coupled to a completely classic 6 speed manual gearbox.

Smooth drive

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One can opt for the “eco” drive mode, where the same indicator on the left is seen as in the “normal” mode (see earlier photo), and on the right a consumption indicator is lighting up… 

Of course, one cannot expect the “Zen” like driveaway power of a Prius, as the electric motor is not capable of moving the car from standstill. It just helps with additional power. Therefore the power transfer via a V belt is sufficient. This means that starting up and driving away with this Scénic is very classic, with the familiar diesel sound being when turning the key. But the extra power is noticeable when you speed up.

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In the sports mode, the rev counter cluster lights up red, on the right one sees the torque and power delivered…

The extra 10 kW makes the dCi engine rather feel like a big, non-turbo engine, with indeed plenty of pulling power at very low revs. The Hybrid Assist actually shuts down as soon as the Turbo revs up, and when you are driving at constant motorway speeds, with the Turbo fully functioning, the Hybrid Assist is not functioning at all.

So it is in slow urban traffic when one is accelerating from crawling speeds in second or third gears, or coming out of a roundabout for instance, that the extra push of the E-power is mostly felt. After some 30 seconds, when the engine is fully “on song”, the system shuts down.

For these short 10 kW power bursts, there is no need to recharge the battery other than by using the kinetic energy of the car, so when decelerating or coasting, the generator recharges the battery.

On the dashboard, the driver can see whether the hybrid system is delivering power, whether the generator is working and recharging, or the system is shut off.

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The centre console with the vertical touchscreen is reminiscent of the Espace…

Besides the power gain, there is a 8 to 10 pct drop in consumption, the manufacturer claims, and we had no trouble reaching average consumptions around 5 liters/100 km or less.

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We had no trouble, even under very adverse city driving consitions, to stay well below 6 liters/100 km…

The official figure for average consumption is 3,6 liter/100 km, with CO2 emissions being as low as 94 g/km. Performance is spirited, as you can expect with the extra power. 0 to 100 km is achieved in 12,9 seconds and top speed is a healthy 184 km/h. Remember, this is almost exactly the performance of a 1963 356 B Porsche Super 90: its figures were respectively 12,8 seconds and 181 km/h. Need we say more?

The new Scenic earns high marks

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We were very fond about the way this fourth generation Scenic looks, sits and drives. Laurens Van den Acker shod it with 20 inch wheels, and the new Scenic is now an elegant crossover. It does not only look very good and well proportioned, it also offers excellent creature comfort. Room for four adults at least, and a luggage space which standard offers already 506 liters. Suspension and comfortis of a very high level, as this new Scenic rides on the CMF-platform, which it shares with the Espace, Kadjar, Talisman and Mégane. Add to this a dashboard layout which bears strong family resemblance with the Espace, sporting the excellent Renault R-link infotainment and a large, vertically placed touchscreen, and you will agree with us that living with the Scenic is a pleasant experience.

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It is also immensely practical and well thought out, with for instance a voluminous tray instead of the ordinary glovebox. The automatic emergency brake assist is standand equipment, but as an option all the classic driving aids are to be had.

Conclusion

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A very clever car, this fourth generation Scénic. It amply shows that Renault is a master in the art of building and designing these compact people carriers, which have now evolved into elegant crossovers. Add to this the very clever, simple hybrid propulsion, and we see no reason why this Hybrid Assist Scénic will not win many car loving hearts.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

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