Renault has taken yet another step towards realizing its ambitious dream of becoming one of the top three foreign manufacturers operating in India by 2015. By launching its mid-size offering Scala, it has completed its product portfolio. Renault now offers to the Indian car buyer a car across all the crucial segments of Indian automobile market.
Scala, another case of badge-engineering, is based on the platform of Nissan’s Sunny and is expected to take on the likes of Dzire, Manza and Verna. Renault Scala sure will find the going tough against well established car models from Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, GM, Skoda and VW, who all have well established car models in this segment. Time will only tell whether, an Indian car buyer favours this French car maker with their share of the wallet. Renault does stand a chance post the overwhelming success it is enjoying for it’s compact SUV, The Duster.
So overall how novel the idea of Scala is and will the Indian car buyer lap it up? Though the answers lie in unfolding future as of now we, at ecardlr, made our prediction by driving the Renault Scala extensively both in the city and out on highway. Read further to ascertain how Renault Scala came out of this rigorous and exhaustive road test.
Renault Scala Exteriors - A Visual Delight
Based on Nissan Sunny’s platform, Renault Scala looks uncannily similar to it in side profile, however Scala does not look as long from the sides as Nissan Sunny. Renault Scala though looks quite different from front and rear, to start with; Scala is far more roundish then the sleek slender Nissan Sunny, even though dimensionally both Renault Scala and Nissan Sunny are the same.
Front face of Renault Scala contains a large hexagonal blacked out insert which is reminiscent to the Hyundai design philosophy. Renault logo sits on the top of bumper which is accentuated by the chrome finished lining. Tapering headlamps are straight away a lift from the Renault Pulse and look in sync with the profile of fog lamps.
View the Renault Scala in profile and you won’t be able to distinguish between Sunny and Scala. As both have the same dimensions, there is little to differentiate between both the cars when you move across the Scala. Also the tapering down the roof hints towards the head space which like in Nissan Sunny will be at a premium even in Renault Scala.
Rear of Renault Scala draws the designing cues from the Maruti Dzire as well as Skoda Rapid. A thick and glossy chrome strip across the boot is on the lines on new Dzire while a clearly visible C-theme in tail lamps shares identity with Skoda Rapid lights. Nonetheless all these tweaking efforts have made the Renault Scala successfully differentiate its personality from the Nissan Sunny. Also the addition of chrome strip adds to the premium aspect and is expected to go down well with the customers.
Renault Scala Interiors – Space Multiplied
Though on outside Renault Scala has successfully managed to differentiate itself from its cousin the Nissan Sunny, the efforts inside the cabin though haven’t resulted in creating the desired distance between the Scala and Sunny. Except the steering with Renault badge and leather seats, Renault Scala is nothing but a rebadged Nissan Sunny. There is excessive use of grey which dulls the interiors of Renault Scala. Some dark shade or even inserts would have kept this starkness away though Renault doesn’t seem to think so.
Like the Nissan Sunny, centre console of the Scala too looks dull but material quality is quite decent. Buttons are large and ergonomics are spot on. Also what adds to the practicality of the Renault Scala is the intuitiveness of the cabin. We wish steering controls could have been made bigger in the Scala. Inside chrome plated door handles in the Renault Scala just look fabulous though they don’t feel solidly built.
Just like Nissan Sunny, Renault Scala scores decent on the space aspect. Scala’s front seats are large, well bolstered from the sides but bottom reinforcing could have been better. Driving position is good and Renault Scala offers a good panoramic view of the outside traffic. Move to the rear seat of the Scal and you get best in class space in terms of leg room and knee room. Head room too in the Renault Scala is not as bad as we had anticipated, keeping in mind the slopping roof. You can literally sit with cross-legged and still find some space left in front inside the Renault Scala. Rear blower for row 2 passengers in the Renault Scala will make hot and humid Indian summers far more bearable.
Scala offers you a spacious and roomy atmosphere which is definitely better than its direct rivals. On the downside though Renault Scala’s rear bench is placed tad too upright and little bit reclining along with more cushioning would have taken its comfort factor some inches higher. Nonetheless we are satisfied with the comfort proposition of Scala.Renault Scala Engine - Cruise at Leisure
Power to the wheels of Renault Scala comes through the choice of petrol and diesel engines. While both mills displace 1.5 L of capacity, power and torque figures are substantially different for diesel and petrol versions. We took a spin in practical and sensible diesel variant on whose shoulders lies Renault’s ambition of making big in this highly competitive segment which has cars like; Dzire, Verna, Accent, SX4, Vento, Rapid and Sunny to name a few.
Scala diesel comes with 4-cylinder inline engine displacing 1.5 L and features common rail diesel technology. Breathing is done here with the old school provision of 8 valves mounted on single overhead cam architecture rather than use of double overhead cam usually employing different valves for input and output operations. Power is rated at 86 PS@ 3750 rpm while torque of 200 NM is generated @ 2000 rpm.
Refinement level of Renault Scala K9K derivate engine is good as it settles down to a low humming sound but real treat is drivability which is in fact set the benchmark for others cars to follow. No wonder Renault loves the K9K diesel power plant so much, that it power literally all cars in its and Nissan’s stable. Like the Fiesta classic power in Scala comes in very linear fashion. Though off the line start won’t make you heart goes gaga about the grunt but then the smoothness and linearity is sure to win you over. You can easily crawl in the city in higher gears and only almost standstill condition warrants you to down shift. This feature is sure to spread a good word of mouth and aid the overall practical appeal of the Renault Scala. Mid-range of the Renault Scala diesel engine also feels blistering and motor revs happily up to 3500 rpm. After this we didn’t feel very excited to rev it further. For normal daily routine Renault Scala is more than powerful and will do its duty happily.
Renault Scala’s diesel engine is mated with 5-Speed transmission which is not very refined and accurate especially when you go from second to third one. Clutch travel is bit long but not very heavy to operate.
Brakes also feel good and have a good stopping power. Renault Scala steering is very light to use and most of the folks will like this feature as it aids the city driving by reducing the effort involved in steering the Scala.
Renault Scala Set-up – Comfort on the Move
Renault Scala uses same underpinnings as of Sunny with McPherson strut at the front and torsion bar at the rear are used to suspend the wheels. 15” alloy wheels are shrouded in 185 mm wide rubber and aspect ratio stands at 65.
Renault Scala has prioritized the comfort factor in contrast to spirited driving as suspension is set softly. This makes the Scala very compliant in nature and most of the undulations are soaked effectively by the Renault Scala. However there are still some hints of disturbance especially when you pass through the potholes. In totality Scala offers good ride quality and best comfort keeping in mind the chauffer driven prospects.
Handling, in contrast to ride, is about average and Renault Scala does have body roll that is sure to be obtrusive for the rear passengers. Long wheelbase and soft suspension setting seems to be the main reasons behind this body roll and the Scala also often wallows during the hard braking.
Renault Overall – Verdict Time
With price range of 6.99 – 8.50 lakhs Renault Scala makes a good case of value for money proposition. It looks good, has soothing interiors with great space, comes with efficient and very drivable diesel motor and offers good and sorted ride to passengers.
Though we admit it fails to emerge distinctively ahead on any of these aspects from its rivals but then it has got decent mixture of all the necessary and practical ingredients Indian Cars buyers seek from their sedans. Also the expansion efforts of Renault has started showing their results as now company has 81 dealerships operational in India and is expected to grow further. This makes up for the very inherent problem regarding the lack of facilities most other recent car manufacturers who have decided to set up shop in India. So we are quite impressed with the overall performance of the Renault Scala and expect the car to be quite a hit in the market.
Renault Scala Overall Rating – Result Time
Style & Substance : 3/5 Ride & Handling : 3/5
Interiors & Space : 4/5 Safety & Equipment : 4/5
Power Plant & Transmission : 3/5 Mileage : 3/5
Overall Value for Money : 3/5