Okay, first things first - the Renault Scala is just a Nissan Sunny with different badges, just like how the Renault Pulse is just a Micra. So here are a few things you need to know about:
It may be a Sunny underneath, but there are just enough changes here to make it seem like a new car. The whole front end, for example, has been given the Renault treatment, with headlamps inspired by the Fluence and a blacked out trapezoidal grille up front. It gives the car a more purposeful stance. There’s nothing new in the side profile, save for the chrome beading around the greenhouse and new alloy wheel design (alloy wheels are standard across the range). At the back, there’s a chrome strip going across the boot lid which joins the new tail lamps. Overall, we think this one looks a lot better than the somewhat plain Sunny.
Here, the story is pretty much the same. Since the Scala will be positioned above the Sunny, it gets leather interiors as standard equipment. That and a Renault logo on the steering wheel pretty much constitute the changes to the interior. As usual though, the rear seat is the place to be in this car; with great leg room, this makes for a good car to be driven around in. This Renault has proper steering mounted controls though, not the steering column-mounted pod. Frankly, we’re a little disappointed because we were beginning to like that pod. Oh well.
3. Engine and gearbox
Powering the Scala will be the same two engines that do duty in the Sunny. A 1.5-litre petrol engine making 97 bhp and a 1.5-litre K9K diesel engine which makes 84 bhp of peak power are available. For you city dwellers hoping for an automatic variant, there is the option of a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) on the petrol variant, which should make commuting in heavy traffic a boon. The diesel variant was good fun to drive, no doubt, but below the 1800 rpm mark, the car just struggles to gain momentum. If you’re just starting off up a hill or your progress is suddenly halted by an obstacle, getting it started again will prove to be a little tricky, with a good bit of handbrake work involved. Provided you have an open, level piece of road, the Scala is a nice little cruiser - that K9K unit is a proper workhorse.
4. Ride and handling
The ride quality of the Scala, especially at the back, is quite plush. Over small undulations and bumps, the car managed to iron them out quite well, but over bumps taken at higher speeds, the ride was a little harsh. Handling wise, it’s quite a competent handler, but the steering doesn’t give you the right amount of feedback. The brakes feel a bit wooden as well, with not much feedback from the pedal.
In the Nissan-Renault hierarchy, Renault ranks higher, so naturally, the Scala will be priced at a premium to the Sunny. We just hope that it’s not too much of a premium, because that would position it against cars like the VW Vento and the Hyundai Verna. Standard leather upholstery and alloy wheels do add to the price, but not too much, we reckon. Would we buy one? On looks alone, definitely, but provided it’s not too much of a jump up from the Sunny in price! We think the pricing sweet spot for the petrol/diesel range should be between Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh, ex-showroom.