Renault Talisman too has similar Korean origins like its predecessor Safrane. However, there is something French about the car apart from the badge itself, and I suspect it is the minimalism that greets you inside.
THE DIMENSIONS in mm: 4848 x 2081 (door mirrors open) x 1752 (boot lid open) Wheelbase: 2808 Ground clearance: 145 mm Boot space: 608 L
THE SPECS: 1.6 L Turbo (Energy TCe 190): 190 hp @ 5750 rpm / 260 Nm @2500 rpm / 7-speed dual clutch gearbox / 1444 kg kerb weight 2.0L engine: 140 hp / 193 Nm / CVT / 1409 kerb weight
THE PERFORMANCE: 2.0L engine 0 – 100 kmph in 12.3 sec / 1.6 L Turbo 0 – 100 in 7.7 sec and fuel economy of 8.8 km/L during test
THE PRICE: AED 85,000 to 103,000
UPSIDE: Striking design, contemporary cabin, enjoyable handling in sport mode, spacious and practical
FLIPSIDE: Dull steering in normal mode, Sporty sound feels forced, some might find interior plain
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The first time you see the Talisman, you notice the deliberate lines: not very unlike those on the new Nissan Maxima – from Renault’s allied stables. But unlike the Maxima, which continues its slightly overbearing ‘stunning-ness’ inside, the Talisman chooses to charm you with a minimalistic cabin that is the mark of future-ready electrics and hybrids.
The exterior-interior design paradox of the Talisman doesn’t end there. The car looks big and well endowed on the outside; but once you step inside, it feels much more compact yet keeping you rather comfortable in its spaciousness. You warm up to the Talisman for this cozy nature.
Cabin and Controls
While the tablets are disappearing from electronic stores, they are surfacing in cabins like that of the Talisman or the Volvo XC 90. Because, it’s rather convenient to interact with the car on a 10.5” vertical screen that lets you split the functions into two or three, using insets! The knob on the console is another turn of thoughtfulness. It takes you back or forth, chooses Home screen and expands the page with detailed options, which saves you the trouble of fumbling for buttons on the touch screen. The new ‘R-link’ navigation responds very quickly through pinch and swipe functions as in a tablet. The Renault Talisman has a rather fancy ‘voice command system’ even for navigation – which refused to be activated during my test drive but worked fine with the radio. An oversight seems to be the absence of a simple and straight volume control button!
The digital instrument panel is kept minimalistic as the tablet takes on cabin communication. The speedometer expresses the current mode in different colours – green for Eco and Sport for red, while Comfort mode is a nice electric blue. There are two more modes – Neutral and Perso (personalization). Calling upon the comfort mode will immediately switch on the driver’s side seat massagers while, on the contrary, the Eco mode causes them to recede.
Besides the massagers, the automatically released parking brake, walk-away locking, blind spot blip on the side mirror and premium-looking perforated leather are part of the larger plan to surprise you! The cabin even has a Bose system – not the hoity-toity kind but pleasing, nevertheless. There is something about the veneer, the dashboard leather and the soft linings and stitching – or even the lighting strip beneath the dash. They place the new Renault Talisman right on the top of the affordable segment, like a Volkswagen Passat has been doing. Well, in terms of exterior appeal, it is more in line with the Nissan Maxima – look at that panoramic glass roof!
My test drive car was the top spec turbo-charged Talisman and it felt quite French. Now that’s good and bad.
The drive of the new 190 hp Talisman is quite elegant and composed. The car feels compact enough to stick with you with remarkable accuracy while keeping the power flowing. Not at the start though. For the first 3000 cycles, the climb is rather slow and reluctant, almost urging you to doubt the size of its engine. This French reticence is what makes the switch to Sport mode so pleasurably different. It takes a moment for you to realize it’s the same car. Engaging the stiff suspension settings in Sport or Perso mode adds further stability to the drive, especially on the 18’’ wheels! Seriously, the sound track that simultaneously comes on in Sport must be the product of a sound system: there’s no chance this warble could be coming from the same engine! Anyway, this car is too refined a family sedan to resonate with that kind of sound output.
The 2.0L is lighter by 35 kilos but the 260 Nm of the turbo-charged over the 190 Nm of the other can catapult my test car past the 100 mark in 7.7 sec – that is 4.6 seconds quicker!
In any mode, the Talisman is rather responsive and agile on urban drives, though the hills do test the character of the car. Highway high speeds don’t push the tacho beyond the brim of 3200 and yet the engine isn’t hesitant to rush to 6000 rpm at your call! Ironically though, the new flagship of Renault keeps you aware of heavy highway winds. In corners, a bit of a high-speed under-steer shows up, but all the way up to UAE’s legal speed limits, the car responded like a gentleman and lived up to its mellow European upbringing.
Yet, one can’t help wondering why would a family car need so many modes – while the Sport gurgles with life, the Neutral lives up to its name – rendering a dull steering even more dull with plenty of under-steer! Justifying its existence, Perso opens a whole new page, literally, on the tablet with a multitude of suggestions to fine-tune the various aspects of the car. Like steering, damping, powertrain, climate, display, engine, sound design, ambient lighting and driver massage. It is similar to the ‘individual’ mode in an Audi that allows you to customize settings.
The 0 to 100 kmph was rather impressive at around 8.4 seconds; so was braking. The slowdown is rapid with a cushioned resistance, while sticking to a straight line. The Talisman returned a mixed fuel economy of 8.8 kms per litre, though you expect better in a car that has ‘eco-evaluators’ and keeps track of fuel-less miles covered.
If there is something that the family will appreciate even more than the premium comfort, it is the thoughtfulness that sets an example for the segment itself. You only need to look for things – like storage for sunglasses or phone, or a lidded niche to put away your wallet – and it’s all there! A well-cushioned armrest with a deep bin beneath? That’s there too! Add to it one of the largest boots among five-seat sedans and the Renault Talisman doesn’t disappoint sensible Sam!
The essential Renault Talisman 2017
The Renault Talisman is great for people who are looking for measured and thoughtfully drawn features. It doesn’t let them miss anything, including some sportiness. And if the Renault Talisman isn’t for those who crave a sporty car, it’s because it fits the bill of a desirable family sedan so much better.
Watch the Renault Talisman video review on OneMinuteDrive