China pulls a reversal and bans Renault car imports for safety concerns

June 11th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Megane 250 fq

In an odd role reversal of the status quo, China has announced the halt of import of four Renault models on the back of ‘serious safety risks’ and non-compliance with regulations.

The Renault models affected include the Laguna, Scenic, Megane and Megane Coupe-Cabriolet – what are Renault’s most successful global models. The decision was reached by the lengthy-named General Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

“W]e have repeatedly found batches of passenger vehicles made by the French Renault … do not conform with our country’s mandatory standards and relevant technical regulations, and there are serious safety risks,” AQSIQ said in a statement.

The Chinese government’s decision is strange to say the least particularly when Chinese made vehicles like the Brillance BS4 have very little in the way of genuine safety. The BS4 recently scored zero stars in Euro NCAP testing. In contrast, the Renault Megane, Megane CC, Laguna and Scenic all achieved 5 stars in EuroNCAP testing.

The fact is that China is now the largest car market in the world and the banning of these Renault models will hurt the French manufacturer. In some opinions this is the first step in China trying to protect their domestic carmakers against the strong competition coming from Europe.

Renault hasn’t yet issued a formal response, with a spokesman saying only that the company was ‘surprised’ by the decision, and that it has plenty of evidence of the quality of its models in the form of independent press reviews and testing.

Renault Scenic II Dynamique 2007 Review

July 13th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Scenic II

Renault’s aptly named Scenic II is perfectly tailored to travelling whilst observing. Riding in it feels like you’re somehow on a scenic lookout. It’s not tall like an SUV, because you still feel like it’s a car, but it’s a car on tiptoes trying to sneak glimpses of a more distant horizon.
The horizon certainly won’t be appearing at speed, though, because the two-litre engine musters only 98kW. What it does do with flair, however, is transport lots of people (well, up to five of them), animals and/or stuff.
The front and rear bumpers have been redesigned, with the grille gaining more prominence. Headlights and taillights have been brought up-to-date (i.e. LEDs), and the equipment and interior trim levels in our test ‘Dynamique’ model are an improvement. More sound deadening means you can enjoy the six-disc in-dash, MP3-compatible CD player, and there are the driver assists such as steering column-mounted audio controls, light and rain sensors, and climate control. Safety is also good with six airbags and a five-star NCAP crash rating.
In the rush hour test it performed boringly well. It was exceptionally comfortable and the seating position gives a superior view of the surrounding traffic. To escape the tedium I took it to a windy road and again, it coped better than I expected. All its digital trickery (Electronic Stability Programme, Electronic Brake Distribution, etc) prevented me from falling into the scenery. If only it had another 40kW to play with, it would be a really fun drive.
Its extreme practicality must make it the favourite of many an upwardly mobile breeding female with family dog and accoutrements — up to 400 litres of them in the boot, which is easily enough to pack a camping holiday. In fact, there’s almost enough room to have a revolution in there. Renault have thought about who will be travelling in this car, so there are lots of friendly features for rear passengers. As well as sunblinds on the passenger windows, on the back of the driver and passenger seats there are fold-down trays with cup holders. The tray is airline-style, and big enough for a small laptop, or a kid’s book. There’s even a fold-down mirror in the front so you can keep an eye on the little tykes.

Each rear seat is independently movable — it will slide forwards or backwards — and the seats can be individually completely removed from the Scenic giving you a huge load space. One niggle is that you can’t easily drop the back seats forwards via the boot — you have to open the passenger door to get at the handle. Fold down a seat, though, and it will comfortably fit several snowboards. There are also a reasonable number of cubby holes under seats and in doors, but none of them fit a water bottle except for the enormous central binnacle.
Starting the Renault is a function hampered by security. Insert the black credit card-sized key into the dash to disable the immobiliser then press a button to start the engine. This sort of process has a certain (tolerable) presence with an Aston Martin, but as the Scenic’s engine bursting into life isn’t accompanied by eight cylinders piercing the tranquillity it seems tiresome.
The Scenic II is a trendy looking car, and its ‘bottom’ (a contentious styling issue on the Megane) has had some nip and tuck. It is practicality packaged with a little French design flair, and for a smidge under 43 grand, it’s great value for money.

Looking to purchase a Renault Scenic? Click here to view Scenics for sale

Price: from $42,990

What we like:

  • Styling
  • It’s quiet
  • Brakes are keen
  • It’s tres practical
  • Price is good
  • User controllable speed limiter

What we don’t like:

  • Lack of power (exacerbated by the gear ratios)
  • Engine harshness between 100-110kph
  • Difficult to get a comfortable seating position without being quite upright

Words and photos Darren Cottingham