Review: Renault Scala automatic
Renault plonks a CVT transmission in its petrol variant
Just a few months after its launch, Renault is now ready to offer the Scala with an automatic variant. The Scala X-Tronic uses a Nissan-supplied continuously variable transmission (CVT) unit, which is more similar in function to the automatic gearbox of the Honda City rather than the Volkswagen Vento. The unit is a bit old school in design and function, but is known to be simple and as a result cheaper to maintain than modern automatics. India is among the first countries to use this CVT.
Coupled to the 1.5-litre petrol unit, the transmission is designed to make easy work of hectic city traffic while keeping fuel economy in check. ARAI has given the Scala X-Tronic 18.64kpl consumption rating. Although the onboard computer revealed a more real-world figure closer to 12kpl. This, after some real hard driving through city and highway by three different drivers.
On the road, the Scala is normally a well-behaved car. It’s designed to be driven calmly and the CVT works best in that mode too. Flooring the throttle gets a pretty late reaction and some times not enough to overtake that fast car ahead. However, in mid-range it is all fine. Engine is free-revving and power is in constant supply. Not much change in driving feel here apart from the convenience of not having to constantly work the clutch in traffic.
The Scala is a very practical car, if not necessarily desirable. Renault hasn’t specced it more too, which is normally seen with automatic variants. Equipment levels are the same as the manual version, which is a bit irksome considering you will be paying at least Rs 60,000 more than the manual version. But Renault is confident that the pull of the certified fuel efficiency figure and the convenience of not having to manually operate the clutch will be good enough for buyers.
We think they need to think again, unless the price of the Scala automatic is going to be unbeatable. Car reaches showrooms by the end of January 2013.