Scala is the new sedan from the Renault

For starters, the Nissan Sunny-styled Scala looks more attractive, thanks to some clever styling tweaks that include a trapezoidal grille, re-profiled headlights and new alloy wheels. From the side, you hardly feel the difference, save for the attractive new alloy wheels. The credit for this transformation from Sunny to Scala goes to Renault’s Indian studio, where all the revisions have been carried out keeping Indian tastes in mind. In contrast to the exteriors, the Scala’s interiors remain unchanged from the Nissan Sunny. The only difference is the Renault lozenge on the steering wheel and the leather upholstery.

From the driver’s seat, visibility is pretty good all around, courtesy the large glass area and the thin pillars. Most of the switchgear is easy to use too, but a couple of controls, like the one for the electric mirror adjustment, are tucked away out of sight. The front seats are comfortable and the beige upholstery makes this cabin a pleasant place to be in. Like the Sunny, quality is decent and the fit and finish are good.

Impressive space

The Scala truly impresses with the acres of space inside. Its long wheelbase means there’s tremendous legroom at the rear, even with the front seats fully pushed back. That said, thigh support is compromised by a low seat base, so long journeys will have you shuffling in your seat trying to find support. The boot is generous, and with the seats folded down there’s a further increase in the luggage capacity. They do not split however; something that would have increased flexibility.

Equipment levels are similar to the Sunny — Renault pampers buyers of the top-end RxZ model with a barrage of features. It gets kit like keyless entry, push-button start, power windows on all four doors, electrically folding mirrors, a CD player, climate control, leather upholstery, ABS, driver and passenger airbags and alloy wheels. The lower RxL variant isn’t too bad either; you still get the CD player, power windows, alloy wheels and all the safety kit.

There is a pair of vertically stacked air vents at the rear, but they aren’t linked to the air-con system so they don’t blow cold compressed air. This unit, which intrudes a bit into the legroom, is a simple blower with two fan settings to circulate air. This rear seat blower comes only in the top-end RxZ variant which, incidentally, is not available with the petrol engine.

Engine options for the Scala are the 1.5-litre dCi diesel motor and a 1.5-litre petrol, again shared with the Sunny.

We drove the diesel, which is expected to form the bulk of sales. The Renault-sourced K9K diesel engine produces a modest 84.8bhp and 20.4kgm of torque but when you combine this with the Scala’s light 1085kg kerb weight, performance is not so modest.

Once past the bit of initial turbo lag, the engine feels quite responsive and performance is good. It’s only when going uphill with the car fully loaded that the throttle lag becomes apparent.

Suspension setting

The car feels best in the mid-range where you have adequate passing power on tap. However, with a full load of passengers and luggage, you will need to constantly work to keep the engine turning over where its performance is strongest. The problem is that the motor has a narrow powerband — there is some turbo lag initially and then the motor runs out of steam as early as 3800rpm.

Renault always seems to get its suspension settings spot on, and the Scala is no exception. Rough sections and bad roads are dealt with easily, thanks to the pliant suspension and considerably tall tyres. Low-speed ride, however, is mildly stiff and sharp bumps do filter through the cabin. Once you are at normal cruising speeds though, it becomes much better, and the suspension has the ability to take constant punishment without a problem.

Despite the soft suspension, the Scala isn’t bouncy and doesn’t throw the passengers around. Bumps do tend to unsettle it a bit, but it always feels safe and predictable.

The light steering, which aids manoeuvrability at slower city speeds, weighs up sufficiently as you go faster and is precise for the most part. What you do get is a fair bit of road noise; the Scala’s insulation is not as good as the competition’s.

The badge-engineered Scala then is a car that is very similar to the Sunny. The prices however start at Rs. 6.99 lakh and go up to Rs. 9.57 lakh, which is around Rs. 70,000 - Rs. 80,000 more than the Sunny.