It was in May 2011 that French carmaker Renault launched its very first product in the Indian market – Renault Fluence. At the launch, Len Curran of Renault had made a promise to everyone gathered that afternoon that Renault will launch five cars across segments in the coming 18 months. In months to follow, Renault went on to launch the Koleos, followed by the Pulse and finally the Duster. And a little over 15 months since the promise was made, Renault is all set to launch its fifth car in India – Renault Scala. Promise delivered.
Riding high on the success of its compact SUV Duster which received an impressive opening, Renault is looking to extend their success run with the launch of the Scala next month. Similar to the Renault Pulse - Nissan Micra saga (which shares platform and engines), the Scala too is a rebadged version of the Nissan Sunny and more. The buzz is that Renault is going to price the Scala between Rs 6.2-9 lakh. We got behind the wheel of the top diesel variant of Renault’s latest offering in a drive which took us from Chandigarh to Mashobra. Read on to find out what we discovered.
Design & Engineering
In this era of rebadged engineering, it came as no surprise that the Renault Scala is based on the same platform as the Nissan Sunny. We have earlier seen a similar arrangement between the Renault Pulse-Nissan Micra; also between the Skoda Rapid-Volkswagen Vento and Skoda Fabia-Volkswagen Polo where platform and engines have been shared by two separate car makers on the virtue of their mutual business arrangement.
Renault’s designers have done a fairly decent job in tweaking the exterior design to give the Scala a new identity and distinguish it from the Nissan Sunny. The front end of the Scala looks similar to that of the Pulse and the headlamps too is Pulse inspired. The Scala also gets a new grille and hexagonal black insert, which makes it look better in comparison to its road sibling – the Nissan Sunny.
Renault has kept the side profile of the car unchanged. However, the rear end of the Scala has been reworked upon. The Scala sports new tail lamps that have a ‘C’ shaped silver insert and the horizontal chrome garnish with the ‘Scala’ graving on it. The mid and top variants of the Scala sports alloy wheels which also have been derived from the Pulse.
Overall, the Renault Scala looks upmarket and hopefully its better looks will justify its premium tag which is most likely to be higher than that of the Nissan Sunny.
Interiors & Comfort
In the inside, the Scala remains unchanged and is the same as the Nissan Sunny apart from of course sporting the Renault logo on the steering wheel. The top diesel variant that we drove came with leather seats (which comes as optional on other models) and adds a premium touch to the car.
The Scala is a spacious car which boasts of good cabin space and a 490 litre boot which can accommodate decent amount of luggage. With respect to ergonomics, the Scala offers good shoulder, knee and leg room.
Similar to the Sunny, the top end trim of the Scala gets start-stop, steering mounted controls, electronically adjustable mirrors, rear air blower and rear arm rests. The absence of the USB port in the music system came as a big disappointment considering that nowadays it comes as standard even on inexpensive hatchbacks. Renault definitely scores a negative point in this department.
The buttons for the adjustments of the mirror are rather small and tucked away near the driver’s knees which make them difficult to use while on the move, especially in high speed. Also, the button for the trip computer is located in the middle of the instrument panel, which requires you to put one hand through the steering wheel in order to access the various read-outs. A more conveniently placed button would have been far more comfortable. Features like tachometer and digital clock comes as standard across model range.
Performance & Handling
The Renault Scala is powered with the same engine options as the Nissan Sunny which means that the 1.5-litre petrol engine which produces 99PS of maximum power and 134Nm of peak torque is what you will find under the hood of the petrol variant. Renault is also offering a first-in-segment CVT automatic transmission with the petrol engine option.
No prizes for guessing that it is the diesel which will be the higher seller and comes with the identical 1.5-litre dCi engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission as the Sunny. This motor pumps 86PS of maximum power and 200Nm of peak torque.
The top diesel variant that we drove felt quite responsive. Driving from the Chandigarh airport on the new expressway right up to Parwanoo was a breeze. But it was when we were driving uphill from Parwanoo to Mashobra that the throttle lag became apparent and the Scala struggled to gather decent pace. But once we were past 2500rpm mark, the engine began to feel stronger.
Around the flowing bends and corners of the Shimla Highway, the Scala proved itself to be a pretty decent handler. The long wheelbase aids in the overall stability and during our high speed stint en route to Mashobra, the Scala remained poised and calm. Even when we drove the Scala over some broken stretches of road, the ride quality didn’t seem to be compromised much as the suspension absorbed all the rough and distressed patches with ease.
The petrol variant boasts of an ARAI ratified mileage of nearly 17 kmpl although we expect it to achieve a real world economy of around 11-12 kmpl. The diesel variant has an ARAI ratified mileage of over 21 kmpl but we feel that it should be able to deliver real world economy of around 17-18 kmpl.
In terms of safety, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist comes as standard features across all variants. Stopping a car in a hurry on a slippery road can be a very challenging task. When your wheels lock up on wet and slippery roads or during a panic stop, you may lose traction and control, causing your vehicle to spin leading to fatal accidents. ABS with EBD can prevent such accidents from occurring. Car manufacturers the world over is putting in effort to make their vehicles safer and kudos to Renault for providing ABS with EBD and Brake Assist even on the base variant of the Scala. And that is not all. Driver’s side airbags, door ajar warning, engine immobiliser also comes as standard across the entire model range. The top variant that we drove comes with driver’s side and passenger side airbags as well as fog lamps.
The Scala is likely to go on sale in the first week of September. The success of the Duster and the confidence that it has instilled in the psyche of the Indian consumer might prove conducive to the performance of the French car maker’s recent offering in the Indian market. The Scala will be offered in two trim levels both for petrol and diesel. The petrol variant will be available in the base and mid trim level, while the diesel variant will be offered in the mid and top trim level.
The Scala will also get the 2+2 year / 80,000 warranty deal and the Renault ‘Complete Care’ package. The price difference between the base diesel variant of the Micra and Pulse was Rs 15000, the Renault being the costlier cousin. It is safe to assume that the Renault Scala will also be sold at a slightly premium sticker price. Presently the petrol variant of the Sunny begins at Rs 5.9 lakh and diesel variant starts at Rs 8.1 lakh. We can expect the base petrol variant of the Scala to be priced at around Rs 6.2 lakh and the diesel variant is likely to be offered at around Rs 8.4 lakh. In my opinion, the Scala is a better looking car in comparison than the Sunny and will hopefully justify is higher sticker price.