Renault were in a hurry to launch their cars and show the Indian customers that they can barrage them with new products for the first year and hope and pray they sustain over the next year or so. One must admit though that people have taken a liking to the French car makers offerings and that is one reason why Renault wants to give the Indian customer more than what they bargained for. They brought out the Scala but no one expected them to come out with its automatic version this quick.
Renault has made no updates to the automatic variant of the Scala. Why should they? It was a perfectly good car. A re-badged Nissan Sunny (as it shares the same platform and most of the same parts) but better looking than the Nissan. The Scala automatic is laden with chrome on the front grille and the rear and ofcourse is the bearer of the CVT badging. This is what differentiates it from the other manual transmissions.
Similarly there are no changes in the inside. Steering mounted controls, climate control, a music system with Aux-in and CD player. Yet again USB and Bluetooth go missing other than the clutch pedal of course.
It's the same1.5-litre petrol power plant which churns out 98bhp and 134Nm torque. However, the key change is that Renault has equipped the Scala with an automatic gearbox, with the car featuring a Continuous Variable Transmission unit which Renault calls the X-tronic. Renault officials stressed on the fact that the CVT X-tronic was all about making lives simpler, making shifts smoother and city driving a pleasure. While initially this statement resulted in a few raised eyebrows and a general air of scepticism, we soon found out how right Renault was in making that statement.
As we started our drive and made our way through dense city traffic conditions, the gearbox shifted seamlessly with no jerks or hesitation whatsoever. Right from idle to kick down, the shifts were smooth, words you normally wouldn't associate a CVT with. As it negotiated the start/stop traffic, the Scala truly made quite a statement for itself. Not only was the CVT Xtronic a boon at such times, but also the sheer space that you got inside the car made you feel so much at ease and that is what makes it a potent combination.
The shifts are as early as 1500-1700rpm, which are ideal for urban driving conditions, giving the car a lovely, relaxed demeanour. Eventually, as we headed out in the direction of the highway, the urge to speed up and let the Scala make a break for it got the better of me. With the Sports mode of the transmission engaged and the accelerator pedal bearing the brunt of my foot, the Scala shifted at higher rpm's. This is where the weaker points of the gearbox were exposed, as there was a lot of engine revs when pressing on but there was no real increase in the acceleration of the vehicle.
NVH levels are low and the cabin is silent unless you hit a pothole. A vociferous thud wakes you up if the Scala unfortunately goes through one. One can't complain about the way it is handled. The Scala AT isn't meant to be driven fast, it is a cruiser, fuel efficient for an automatic and well equipped feature-wise. It's for those who enjoy long journeys and that too at their own pace. Its silent, unassuming and docile, a dream car for those already stressed out at their workplaces.
It's an automatic that gives you what you always wanted - space, luxury and driving pleasure, but don't expect it to sizzle in the fast lane.