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Renault likely to launch Scala at Rs 6 lakh only!

Last updated on: August 30, 2012 08:50 IST

Renault likely to launch Scala at Rs 6 lakh only!

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IndianAutosBlog.com


S
o a brilliant exterior and the same old interior - that's the Renault Scala for us until this point. But how does it feel to drive? Renault has a good lineage of cars that drive very well on Indian roads.

Sure, Nissan tested the Sunny through the length and breadth of the country to make sure that it was fit for Indian roads. However, did Renault change the dynamics of the car to improve the driving experience?

Clearly, Renault must have had a ton of feedback because the Nissan Sunny has been on sale for quite a while now. It is a very good car to drive but there are a few specifics which could be worked upon. So how different is the Scala to drive?

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What powers Renault Scala?

Renault Scala engine

Unlike the Pulse which was initially only launched in diesel, Scala will be launched in both petrol and diesel avatars. The petrol variant will come fitted with a XH2 1.5L engine that generates 99 PS of peak power @ 6,000 rpm and 134 Nm of Torque @ 4,000 rpm.

The diesel power will come from a from a familiar K9K mill that motors the Pulse, Micra, Logan, Verito, Sunny, Fluence, Duster, Evalia and now the Scala. On the Scala, the K9K mill generates 86 PS of power @ 3,750 rpm and 200 Nm of torque @ 2,000 rpm.

We have only driven the diesel so far (expected to be the most popular variant) and hence our views are restricted to the diesel model.

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We have driven the K9K engine in almost every car that it is on sale right now and the second most popular diesel engine in India never disappoints. Start the engine and it quickly settles into a smooth drum.

In the Scala, it is not very noisy at idling.

Both engines are mated to a 5-speed manual transmission that feature on the Micra, Duster RxL and the Evalia. The shifts are long but very positive.

The gates are somewhat precise. The gear ratios are engineered to provide easy drivability both in city and on the highways. 1st, 2nd and 3rd are really very strong and brilliant for overtaking. The 4th gear should be used more for cruising than cornering.

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The Renault Scala's turbocharged diesel engine has evident lag below 1,700 rpm. Looking beyond this little irritant, the engine is very rev happy and speeds all the way to 5,000 rpm with no difficulty. Once you are past 2,000 rpm, the engine turns very responsive.

The good thing is that keeping this engine at boil is very easy in the Scala. Adding to that, the fact that this engine produces the same amount of torque as it does in the Evalia (a much bigger and heavier MPV) means the Scala can really move!

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The NVH levels are good for double digit speeds but once triple digit speeds are reached, a lot of noise creeps into the cabin. The NVH insulation is adequate for most times but not comprehensive.

How is the ride and handling?

The Scala is a front wheel drive architecture with conventional MacPherson struts at the front with a torsion beam rear axle. Although there is nothing different about this setup, the mechanics have been sorted properly.

The electronic power steering provides good feedback below 120 km/hr. Thanks to EPS, 185/70 profile Bridgestone tyres and a light clutch pedal, the city drivability of the Scala is excellent.

The Bridgestone OEM tyres are very grippy and confidence inspiring. To make them squeal, you really need to hoon it.

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Scala gets a combination of disc at front and drum at rear. The brakes are not as crisp as we would have hoped but are good for emergency stops. ABS with EBD is standard across all models, and don't intrude during braking.

The Scala absorbs rough sections and bad roads beautifully thanks to well-adapted suspension set up and meaty tyres. There is some amount of body roll but the Scala manages to inspire a good amount of confidence in corners as well.

Although there is vigorous body movement when driven over pot holes, you are not tossed around. The 5.3m turning radius is just .1 meter off the best in class figurre (title held by the Ford Fiesta).

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What about fuel economy?

The Renault Scala claims an FE of 16.95 kmpl for the petrol variant and diesel model claims 21.64 kmpl. In our short aggressive drive, we managed to squeeze out 14 kmpl.

What about safety?

The Scala gets a fair bit of safety equipment such as:

  • Dual front airbags
  • ABS, EBD and Brake assist

Front passenger airbags and speed sensing locks are available in higher models. Being derived from the Nissan Sunny which is a global product, it complies to many international safety standards.

Is there anything that I did not like about the drive?

  • There are a few things that you may not like. Yes, these points are very similar to the Nissan Sunny:
  • Uninspiring highway performance.
  • Rear parking sensors would have been appreciated as this is a long car.
  • Dealer and service network is work in progress.
  • No seat belt off warning light or alarm - an omission carried over from the Micra, that is irresponsible.
  • A very weak horn in Indian standards


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Wouldn't Renault Scala cannibalise Nissan Sunny's sales or even vice versa?

Yes, there is a very good possibility that customers would move from the Nissan Sunny towards the more attractive Renault Scala if the pricing is tight.

People seeking value for money would move customers away from Scala towards the Sunny.

It will take sometime for the Scala to gather momentum to match the Nissan Sunny. Either ways, we expect both of them to do well.

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Renault will launch the Scala in early September in two trim levels each of the petrol and diesel motor. A 2+2 year / 80,000 km warranty deal as well as the Renault 'Complete Care' package would also be provided with Scala.

There is very good chance that the Scala will be launched at an entry price of Rs 600,000.

The Renault Scala appeals to buyers who are looking for a stylish, comfortable and spacious car that is very fuel efficient.

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Remember, the 5 product strategy is fully executed with the Scala's launch.

The next set of products are sometime away and will come in installments.

Renault India will enter the consolidation phase next year. In such a scenario, they need at least two products firing to ensure that sales are trickling in. Can the Duster and Scala do the trick for them?

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Renault Scala interiors

Thanks to the smart key, you don't need to search for the keyhole in the dark.

The first thing that you notice is the amount of component sharing in this Renault-Nissan Alliance offering. Everything is where you left it.

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You have the familiar 'Greige' (Grey+Beige) interior that we see on the Micra/Pulse/Sunny and recently on the Evalia.

Thanks to the colour, the interiors are bright and airy. The ingress is very effortless.

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Renault Scala steering mounted controls

The steering wheel is picked out from the parts bin of the Sunny (sans the Nissan's badge) and is neither too chunky nor too thin. It has a good grip and is rake adjustable.

We would like to see reach adjustment incorporated in the future.

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Renault Scala indicator stalk

Thankfully the assembly comes with steering mounted controls on the left hand side.

Like most Japanese cars, the indicator and wiper stalks are on the 'right' side of the steering wheel.

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Renault Scala instrument dials

The instrument console features fine-vision dials with a speedometer and a tachometer.

A small MID in between the dials gives you driver information such as Live FE, Average FE, distance to empty, outside temperature and odometer reading.

On the right hand side of the driver, you get controls to operate the ORVM and a beam adjuster.

The push-button starter is one of the premium features on the list.

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Renault Scala music system

The center console houses the music system has a CD player/FM and AUX function.

Sadly it lacks Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port. The four speaker stereo has a very average sound quality. Pump up the volume and the sound quality quickly fades.

Renault Scala air con vent

The funky circular air-con control is user friendly. The Scala comes with climate control and the air con unit is awesomely powerful to bring the cabin's temperature down very quickly.

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Renault Scala gear knob

The gear stick is slightly different in the Scala and it has a nice grip. The two cup holders below the air-con controls fit in small bottles and coffee cups.

The glovebox is not very spacious and can only store papers or notebooks. There is a small compartment above the glovebox to store stuff on the go.

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Renault Scala rear seats

Coming to the rear, you find the biggest USP of the Scala - space, lots and lots of space! Even a six footer can easily snuggle into the rear seats of the Scala with ease.

An average person can cross his legs and sit comfortably in the back when the front seats are pulled back. We must note here that the sloping roofline does eat slightly into the headroom.

Scala head rest

The leather seats are very comfortable. They provide reasonable lumbar support for the driver and front passenger. They have height-adjustable headrests and the seats themselves are also height adjustable to attain a comfortable position.

Scala rear blower

The Scala also gets rear vents that suck air from the front and blow to the rear. The second level of fan speed is very noisy forcing rear seat conversations to turn loud.

Renault should have replaced it with the AC unit from the Duster, but the technical complications may have prevented them from trying it.

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Renault Scala boot space

The boot space is plenty, a total of 490L to be precise. It can swallow a grown adult in perfect comfort!

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Renault Scala spare wheel

The boot lid opens wide and has a comfortably low loading lip. The spare wheel is tucked nicely under the boot.

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Renault Scala dead pedal

There is no dead pedal but ample space to nurse your left foot. Storage solutions all around the car are very usable for long drives.

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What did I not like about the Renault Scala's interior

  • No originality - very been-there-done-that feeling.
  • None of the crazy French quirky ergonomics. No-nonsense interiors in a French car, perhaps a first? Is this what the world has come to?
  • No Bluetooth or USB ports.
  • No cruise control or sunroof.
  • The rear seats fold down, but there's no split.
  • No HVAC re-routing like the Renault Duster. Just a blower at the back, which needs time to work properly.

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As much as we would have loved to see new interiors for the Scala, we must remind ourselves that Renault wanted to bring out a car quickly into this segment at competitive prices.

The Nissan Sunny's second weak point of very ordinary interiors has passed on to the Renault.

They are very functional and the fit and finish is good but overall, there's nothing out of the ordinary here.

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