Scala, Renault’s new car, impresses with its ride, handling and interior

Car manufacturers are turning to badge-engineering to cut manufacturing and developing costs. After already having shared platforms on the Micra and the Pulse, Renault and Nissan are at it again with the Scala. The Scala is basically the Nissan Sunny and like in the case of the Pulse, the Scala looks a lot more appealing than the Sunny thanks to the large, aggressive grille, stylish headlights and new alloy wheels. The rear bumper features a blacked-out section that mimics a diffuser, which helps reduce the car's visual bulk. When viewed in profile, the Scala is exactly the same as the Sunny, save for the attractive new alloys. Overall though, the Scala looks much more balanced and proportioned than its cousin from Nissan.

Engine options for the Scala are the 1.5-litre dCi motor and the 1.5-litre petrol. We drove the diesel model which produces a decent 84.8bhp and 20.4kgm of torque. On urban roads, it is quite good to drive. Half-throttle responses are good and once past the initial turbo-lag, the engine feels quite responsive. It’s only when going uphill with a full load that the throttle lag becomes apparent and the Scala struggles to gather decent pace. The car feels best in the mid-range and you have adequate passing power on tap. However, on an open highway you will feel a slight shortage of power and find yourself constantly shifting gears to keep the motor on the boil. And, with power tapering off as early as 3800rpm, it’s best to use the gears and keep the engine in the mid-range.

What is very impressive is the Scala’s ride quality. This saloon competently absorbs rough sections and bad roads, thanks to its pliant suspension and tyres. The suspension works silently but sound insulation is not that great and each time you hit a coarse patch you get a hollow humming sound .

That said, the Scala remains a tidy handling car. Due to the soft suspension, there is some amount of body roll but the Renault is a very neat handler. The steering is light and comfortable at city speeds and it offers decent feedback on the highway too.

The interiors are exactly the same as the Sunny’s and the oval and rounded theme is carried over. You get a round cluster of buttons on the central console, round vents and a round steering boss. The boot too is fairly generous and the seats fold down, but there’s no split.

The top-end RxZ model we drove comes loaded with features. You get keyless-go, climate control and electric folding mirrors. The top-of-the-line diesel model also comes with nice leather seats. The interior quality isn’t brilliant but it’s good enough for the class.

Though it is the same as the Sunny, there are things that make the Scala stand out, like the Renault nose and the linear diesel engine. It is a good package with good ride and handling and the interiors boast of decent quality. Renault will launch the petrol Scala in the low and middle-level variants, while the diesel will be available in middle and top-level variants. The Duster’s success may rub off on it and we just might see a lot of them on the roads.