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Renault Scala Automatic review, test drive

autos Updated: Jan 21, 2013 10:38 IST

Autocar India
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Our first impressions of the Renault Scala Automatic.

Ever since its launch, the badge-engineered Renault Scala has made a decent impression in the market as a more attractive alternative to its cousin, the Nissan Sunny. However, its optimistic pricing hasn’t allowed Renault to unlock the Scala’s full potential. Renault hasn’t been sitting idle and is in the process of launching the Scala with an automatic version. But is the auto ’box good enough to handle the busy and crowded roads around India?

Initial impressions are good. The Nissan engine is quite responsive and the gearbox feels really well suited to urban stop-start driving. This complements the light steering quite nicely, making the Scala effortless to drive in traffic. The way the car drives has a lot to do with the new high-tech CVT automatic gearbox used on this car. Renault’s partner Nissan is one of the few companies that continued to pursue the Continuously Variable Transmissions technology, and this investment is now beginning to bear fruit. The X-tronic CVT featured on this car is a much improved version of the regular CVT box and it comes with a steel belt for greater durability and less of a rubberband effect.

The Scala, as a result, is happy to amble around at city speeds, the gearbox keeping the engine in the 1000-1500rpm band if you only use part-throttle. There’s more performance on tap if you use more throttle, but this is accompanied by an increase in engine speed and engine noise. However, this is useful when you need to overtake, the increase in pace somewhat linear with the rise in revs. Using maximum throttle is a bit pointless though. The engine becomes really noisy and strained and flat-out performance isn’t all that great anyway.

Where the CVT pays you back is in the area of efficiency. It keeps engine rpm down in the more efficient part of the power-band and every time you lift off the throttle, the engine gets ‘disconnected’ from the gearbox, reducing mechanical drag. The French carmaker claims that the Scala auto delivers an ARAI-tested 17.97kpl, which is a shade more than the Ford Fiesta’s DCT auto variant, which gives 16.97kpl (ARAI-tested).

Otherwise, the Scala automatic is very similar to the manual gearbox equipped version. You get plenty of space on the inside, a comfortable but slightly bouncy ride and a massive boot. The design of the interiors is a bit too similar to that of the Nissan Sunny and the Scala automatic isn’t really a car that you can enjoy driving fast. But if you are looking for a practical, fuss-free car for everyday commute, this Renault gives you a lot of car for the money.

Renault has initially only launched the Scala petrol with an auto ’box. It will be sold in RXL and RXZ trims and will come with a four-year warranty.

Renault Scala Petrol RXL MT: Rs 7.85 lakh
Renault Scala Petrol RXL AT: Rs 8.70 lakh (estimated)

Honda City V MT: Rs 9.01 lakh
Honda City V AT: Rs 9.75 lakh

All prices ex-showroom, Delhi

Fact File

Price Range (in lakhs)*
Ex-showroom price Rs 8.70 lakh (estimated, ex-showroom)

Fuel Petrol
Installation Front, transverse
Type 4-cyls in-line, 1498cc
Power 97bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 13.6kgm at 4000rpm

Type Front-wheel drive

Length 4425mm
Width 1695mm
Height 1505mm
Wheel base 2600mm

Chassis & Body
Tyres 185/65R15

Front Macpherson Strut
Rear Torsion bar

Type Rack and pinion
Type of power assist electric

Front Ventilated discs
Rear Drums