Renault Scala - Tres Bien
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Renault is on an all time high in India off late, with the grand success and initial bookings for its Mini SUV Duster. The Renault Duster has recorded more than 16,500 bookings and still counting.
To capitalize this, Renault is all set to launch its sedan, the Scala in September. Many manufacturers have done a model sharing thing before, we have the VW Polo, Skoda Fabia, VW Vento, Skoda Rapid, Nissan Micra, Renault Pulse and so on. Basically the Renault Scala is a rebadged Nissan Sunny with some changes to it.
We drive the soon to be launched Renault Scala on the enchantingly beautiful hilly roads of Shimla to get you this exclusive review of what could be an exciting sedan in its segment.
We drove the Renault Scala RxZ Diesel, which is the top-end fully loaded variant in the diesel line up. As already established, the Renault Scala is a design tweak of the Nissan Sunny. The Dimensions of the Renault Scala remain the same as the Nissan Sunny. With an overall length of 4425mm; Scala stands 1695mm wide and has a height of 1505mm. The dimensions are identically same as to its Nissan brother.
Let’s see what is different on the Renault Scala on the outside that differentiates it from the Nissan Sunny. At first glance, you think it’s a Nissan Sunny, look again and you begin to eat your words. The front of the Renault Scala has the recognisable Renault face, with the aggressive French beard shaped centre that goes with a chrome centre grille along with the large Renault badge in the centre.
It in fact, seems to be a redesigned and a larger version of the Renault Pulse. The headlamps on the Scala have a stylish look to them with black eyebrow like bands running over them. A pair of round fog lamps is placed on the sides of the large air dam. The neat and smooth bonnet mates with the sloping front bumper.
The side profile of the Renault Scala is identical to the Nissan Sunny. The outside grab type door handles are in chrome and the front door handles get the keyless lock entry-exit button as on the Sunny. The wing mirrors are body coloured, electrically adjustable and electrically foldable.
The windows get the chrome garnish on them that adds to the premium touch to the Renault Scala. The sloping roofline that merges with the boot makes the side profile look very sporty and coupe-like.
A distinctive design feature on the Renault Scala that differentiates it from the Nissan Sunny is the sporty design of the alloy wheels. The Renault Scala drives on 185/65 R15 Bridgestone 9250 model tyres.
The rear of the Scala also has peculiar differences from the Nissan Sunny in terms of looks. The rear profile of the Renault Scala gets a redesigned rear bumper with blacked out lower section.
A thick chrome strip runs across the boot lid that runs across just under the rear badging. The tail lamps get a very different designing to the reflectors that reminds one a lot of the Mercedes tail lamps. A distinctive C design in the tail lamp neatly mates with the thick chrome strip on the rear. The roof gets a tillable radio antenna.
The Renault Scala looks distinct and different to the Nissan Sunny from the front and the rear. The rear three quarter profiles are the best to see on the Scala. The build quality is pretty neat with good paint and fit-finish. The side profile is also rather well done with the sporty alloys and the chrome window garnish that make the Renault Scala look premium.
The cabin of the Renault Scala is also tweaked and a few changes are carried in here. The dash board is in grey shade with nice round design on it. The instrument cluster gets the dials in round with neat white glow on the digits and surrounded by a soft white glow lining.
The needles are in sporty red colour. A neat little multi function display is placed between the two dials. This display reads out the temperature and fuel along with the time, trip and kms that the Scala can do with the fuel in tank etc.
The push button start for the engine is placed on the right of the instrument cluster. The steering is a three spoke affair and is leather wrapped. A touch of smooth silver inserts make the steering look premium. The audio controls are placed on the steering and fall to the thumb easily. The centre dash gets closable AC vents along with a single CD-MP3-FM Radio unit under the vents.
A nice looking round single zone climate control unit in silver, sits under the audio player. Storage space is good with a decent sized glove box along with some space above it as well.
Large bottle holders and storage space is also available in the door pads in the front. The round design theme continues on the inside door handles as well. The silver inserts are also seen on the door pads. The gear lever also gets this silver insert to make it look premium. The gear stalk feels good to grip.
The Renault Scala RxZ gets all leather upholstery. The seats are in light grey colour shade with perforation on it. The driver’s seat gets the much needed manual height adjust. The front seats offer good support. The rear seats can seat 3 passengers comfortably.
A neat foldable centre arm rest folds out with 2 bottle holders sculpted on it. The rear seats also get height adjustable head rests. These have a very good lower back and under thigh support that’s very different from the Nissan Sunny, split seats at the rear are sorely missed though. The door pads also get the perforated leather inserts in the pads.
Overall comfort level is very good in the Renault Scala. The front seats offer real good leg and head room. The rear seat has tons of leg room (remember the Caaaaar TVC for the Nissan Sunny?). The rear passengers also get the two speed air re-circulator that sucks in the cooled air from the front of the cabin and pumps it to the back using its two adjustable vents.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is good and the control pedals (clutch-Brake-accelerator) are well spaced out. We missed the much needed dead pedal on our long drive and wished it was available on the Scala.
The cabin of the Renault Scala is well appointed and very roomy. Plastics and the switches that are used in here are of good decent quality. The Renault Scala comes with a large boot area of 490litres which is large enough to swallow up 3 to 4 large suitcases.
Engine – Suspension – Drive
The Renault Scala will be available with 2 engine options and 2 transmission options. The renowned 1.5litre K9K diesel engine with a 5 speed manual transmission will do service to the diesel Scalas while the 1.5litre XH2 Petrol engine will be available with a 5 speed manual and a 5 speed CVT Automatic transmission options.
The difference here, from its cousin Sunny, is that the Renault Scala gets a CVT automatic transmission option while the Nissan Sunny still does not have an auto tranny.
The now-so-famous 1.5litre K9K Diesel engine (dCi) that does its duty on mostly all Renault and Nissan car models in India is a 1461cc 4 cylinder unit that’s tuned to kit out 84.8bhp of power @ 3750RPM. The K9K engine makes a healthy torque of 200Nm @ 2000 rpm. This unit is paired with a manual 5 speed gearbox.
A lot has already been spoken about the K9K dCi Diesel engine from Renault-Nissan. This is an excellent engine that has loads of power and torque across the power band. The 1.5 dCi unit on the Scala was a smooth operator all along our drive that included some sharp climbs, steeps and a lot of bad hilly patches but the Scala never ran out of breath.
The dCi engine on the Scala is tuned for a lot of intercity driving conditions. A tap on the throttle gets you the desired power and once past the initial turbo-lag the power response is very linear. Overtaking the trucks on our drive was easy with all support from the dCi engine when needed. The gear shifts are smooth and very precise. The engine feels quiet responsive across the power band and on open stretches, the Renault Scala does run well. Mid-range power delivery is the dCi engines USP and the gear box is well tuned to help things. The steering feels super light and is very handy for the busy traffic drives and offers good feedback on high speed highway runs.
The Renault Scala offers a very good ride quality with perfect-for-India suspension set up that irons out the bad roads. On highways too the Scala drives along rock steady and feels planted all the time. There is little amount of body roll but then the comfortable ride quality covers it up. We did some very sharp corners and bends on the hills at quick speeds but the Scala stayed steady and behaved perfectly.
The Renault Scala RxZ that we drove comes loaded with a long list of features. There are two front air bags, keyless entry, push-button start, electric wing mirrors with auto fold, single zone climate control, tilt steering, ABS+EBD+Brake Assist, all power windows and the list of other features can go on...
The Renault Scala does look like the twin brother of the Nissan Sunny but there is more to it, like the new nose and the rear along with sporty alloys etc. that make the Scala look different. The Renault Scala comes with strikingly different exteriors, a very good and renowned diesel engine. A petrol engine option on the Scala with an automatic CVT gearbox is another plus point which can prove to be its USP.
The spacious cabin is the largest in its class. Best in class rear seating. The Renault Scala is a very well packaged sedan offering excellent comfort and drive qualities. The Renault Scala is the sporty and more premium option to the Nissan Sunny and a very strong car option in its class.
The price of Renault Scala starts at Rs. 6.99 Lakh for the petrol RxE and Rs. 8.69 Lakh for the base diesel model, the RxL. The top of the Renault Scala line up is the diesel RxZ, priced at Rs. 9.57 Lakh. (all prices mentioned, ex-showroom).
The Renault Scala would compete with its brother, the Nissan Sunny along with Volkswagen Vento, Hyundai Verna, Honda City, Ford Fiesta, Ford Classic, Maruti Dzire and SX4, Toyota Etios, Mahindra Veito, Skoda Rapid and the Fiat Linea.