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Renault Scala Automatic test drive

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Driven largely by the efforts of the Duster, Renault isn't taking the rest of its offerings lightly. Having tasted success with its compact SUV, Renault wants its other products, the Pulse, Scala, Fluence and Koleos to buck up as well. And in 2013, it's begun on that path with the Scala automatic.

Based on the Sunny, the Scala has seen reasonable success too. And now, with the Scala automatic, Renault aims to target eight per cent market share in the passenger car segment. As of now automatic cars hold only six per cent of the share in the A3 segment, of which six per cent is dominated by petrol cars.

Sure enough, the markets is biased towards manuals. After all, manual cars seem to be preferred because in most cases automatics deliver low fuel efficiency and high cost of ownership. Besides many find driving automatics discomforting too.

Renault hopes to change that with the Scala auto. First things first, the Renault Scala CVT delivers a fuel efficiency of 17.97 kpl. The X-tronic transmission on the Scala in fact delivers better mileage than the manual version, which only delivers 16.95 kpl. Mated to the same, 1.5-litre petrol as found on the Scala, that's a good start indeed.

While the engine on the Scala has not been changed, it is now mated to the X-tronic automatic transmission, which is a CVT that does not change gears, resulting in a smoother drive. The car features quick throttle response and the transmission is offered with a sports mode and L mode for climbing inclines. However, the engine does seem to drone on when the transmission changes ratios. The rubberband effect of the CVT seems quite prominent.

The shifter is also a fairly simple one with no rocker to select pre-determined ratios or anything like that, but there is a sport mode that allows for more engine braking and a low gear for climbing up steep inclines.

In the city, the car is pretty effortless to drive, the throttle responses are quick and lag free initially, which means merging into traffic won't be too much of a hassle

Out on the highway though, because the transmission keeps the engine revs constant while it changes ratios, there's a lot of engine noise that intrudes into the cabin. Also, on the move, there's a little lag at the 1000 rpm mark, but the car shoots off once revs rise beyond that.

Renault claims the Scala automatic is the most fuel efficient car vehicle in its class. The RxL and RxZ trims are offered with four year warranty. What will be key to the success of the Scala will be its price. At a time when the whole car market is stagnating, Renault will have to play the price card sensibly if the car is to succeed. Given strong competition from the likes of the Honda City auto, Hyundai Verna auto and even the Maruti Suzuki SX4 auto, Renault may have a task at hand.