Renault Talisman Review
The French-Korean Camry-rival that proves less is more and je ne sais quoi is everything
By Shahzad Sheikh
Click below to watch our full Renault Talisman review
Furiously fought-over. No, not the last Ferrero Rocher in the box, but the medium saloon car segment. Not by you, so much, more the manufacturers. There are lots of contenders vying for your attention that’s for sure.
So amongst the big hitters, which would you choose?
Toyota Camry (AED83,900), Honda Accord (AED82,900), Nissan Altima (AED78,000), Hyundai Sonata (AED69,900), Chevrolet Malibu (AED69,900) and the Kia Optima (AED67,900).
Well don’t decide just yet, because the French have entered the fray too – keenly pitching their offering against the bargain-priced Optima. Meet the Renault Talisman.
What’s a Talisman?
Well it could be an object of some kind usually something wearable, like a ring or a medallion, that may just bring good luck, or possibly even contain mystical and magical powers…
Oh you meant what’s the Renault Talisman? Ah, well that’s a car.
As mentioned, Camry-sized, built in France and South Korea – where it’s called the Renault Samsung SM6. Introduced last year, it replaces the Laguna but is not available in right-hand drive markets. It’s based on a platform jointly developed by Nissan and Renault, and is the second car to use it after the new Renault Espace.
As for the name, Renault reckons it ‘conjures up notions of both protection and power,’ and that it’s easy word to pronounce and understand the world over.
Engine and trim?
We get two engine choices and three trim levels. All are front-wheel drive.
There’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder producing 140bhp and 142lb ft at 3750rpm with a ‘7-speed’ (read step-changes) CVT transmission. It does 0-100kph in 12.3seconds and reaches 183kph.
The better engine though – and the one we tested – is dubbed Energy TCe 190, is actually a 1.6 Turbo four-cylinder that produces 190bhp and 192lb ft from 2500rpm. That’s mated to a 7-speed dual clutch auto and will go from rest to 100kph in 7.7secs and reach 225kph.
PE 2.0 CVT – AED67,900 ($18,500)
SE 2.0 CVT – AED76,900 ($21,000)
SE TCe 190 EDC – AED82,000 ($22,600)
LE TCe 190 EDC – AED102,900 ($28,000)
We tested this range-topper with all the options fitted including head-up display, electronically controlled suspension, full powered, heated, vented seats with massage, and 13-speaker Bose stereo.
Outside and in
It’s a handsome and substantial presence with particularly charismatic front styling – now with the new Renault family C-shaped Daytime Running Light LEDs and a sleek looking tail treatment.
There’s decent boot space and average rear accommodation. The front is a very inviting place, with a quality look and feel. The big screen vertical central screen reminds of how the latest Volvos are doing it, but can be a bit fussy to use. Lower spec cars get smaller screens.
One cool feature is that when they say keyless they’re not kidding. Yes there is a smart looking key fob you keep in your pocket, but the car automatically unlocks the moment you approach it, and then also automatically locks itself the moment you walk away from it. Plus you can open the boot by just swiping your foot under the rear bumper.
On the move?
It has a so-called ‘Multi-Sense’ system which is basically a drive mode selector and on this full option car changes the instrument panel display, ambient lighting, transmission, acceleration response, steering assistance, engine noise and electronically-controlled variable suspension damping settings.
Frankly on a car of this type, I’m not sure why you really need all that, and it’s a bit of a gimmick. Sure the engine does sound keener and sportier when you turn the dial all the way, the accelerator pedal gets more responsive and the ride firms up. But mostly the difference between the modes during everyday driving is subtle. Weirdly the massage seat activates automatically the moment you go into Comfort.
Otherwise performance is pretty decent for this class of car, and handling is typically tidy and reassuring – Renault does know how to set up front-wheel drive cars. It’s easy to manoeuvre and manage, visibility is good and parking not a problem.
One thing I found was that whilst the AC seemed plenty powerful enough, the fan would get obtrusively loud when left in auto.
Another excellent and very compelling entrant into a segment that leaves you spoilt for choice. It’s got a little more style and charisma than some of its rivals and that can count for a lot these days.
The build is perhaps not as tight and substantial as the Japanese cars, but don’t forget it’s significantly undercutting those.
Still worth remembering that the Kia Optima is not bad either, and the very slightly dearer Chevy Malibu’s a very good choice too, so do check them all out before making a call.