We drove the Renault Talisman dCi130: the magic of French style and refinement…

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Renault has chosen a very fitting name for its top of the range limousine, which has very impressive panache and style, thanks to the masterful hand of exterior designer Alexis Martot. The proportions and volumes of this sleek limousine are timelessly pleasing, and have a certain magic about them which the big Renault sedans have missed for a long time. But it is all back now, and like the mythical pre-war Reinastella’s, our Talisman test car came in a gleaming black livery… “Etoilé Black”, it is now called here.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Your four wheeled Talisman…

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Talisman is defined as “an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck”. The name is therefore well chosen, and we certainly felt also quite lucky behind the wheel of this big Renault. The interior also breathes a “Zen” atmosphere with very fluent lines, and is quite harmonious and user friendly. Interior designer Nicolas Dortindeguey saw to that.

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We liked especially the large 22 cm (8.7 inch) touch screen on the centre console, and the individualised instrument cluster, where the instrument display pattern and info layout is coupled to the driving mode one chooses.

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We like very much the display with the large rev counter surrounding the digital speed indicator, which is typical for the “neutral” driving mode. We could not think of a more logical setup, which offers excellent visibility of all the important info you need. It is, we have to admit, an example for many…

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When one chooses the “sport” mode, the rev counter lettering gets somewhat bolder, the round scale and the background is now red, with also red lettering in the instrument cluster.

When one chooses the “comfort” mode, the instrument display now converts into a classic speedometer with a blue background.

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Renault is also quite proud of their seat design, and we agree that they offer excellent comfort and support. They have up to 10 possible adjustments (eight electrically, two manually) and also sport a four position lumbar adjustment.

They are also ventilated and offer a massage function with adjustable intensity (two programmes with five sequences). Need we say more?

Infotainment is also of the highest order, with a truly excellent DR or digital radio, for instance. More about all this further in this report.

Pleasure behind the wheel with state of the art agility and responsiveness…

Smooth, frugal and powerful…

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Starting up the engine one is pleased by its smoothness and silence, even when cold. The lever of the six speed gearbox lies well at hand, and the gearchange is surprisingly effortless, slick and precise.

The clutch takeup is also very smooth and progressive, which makes this Talisman with manual transmission quite pleasant to move around in dense urban traffic, and it is easy to drive at crawling speeds, where it has superb manners.

We cannot stress this quality enough, certainly for a premium, large passenger car. Also the engine is completely untemperamental, and there are no chocks or any jerkiness in power delivery or any drivetrain reactions to be felt, with the diesel being virtually inaudible and vibrationless. All this conveys the refinement level one comes to expect in this premium class, and here this big Renault truly delivers.

Torque is of course plentiful with this modern Diesel, and in terms of practical, everyday performance, this Talisman leaves nothing to be desired. Getting down to the absolute numbers, they show this clearly, with an acceleration time from 0 to 100 in 10.2 seconds.

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The car is quite lively, even right down to the “eco” mode. We drove  the Talisman for a longer motorway trip from Antwerp to Düsseldorf and back, driving in this “eco” mode, and keeping the engine into the suggested “green” rev band, which resulted in hardly revving above 2000 rpm and adopting a cruising speed of some 112 km/h or 70 miles. Doing this “green” excercise, one is greatly rewarded with a average consumption well below 5 liters/100 km, and indeed, the tank gauge just refuses to inch downwards.

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This all sums it up, really, when one drives a modern diesel engined car with some restraint on the open road: one really achieves astonishing consumption figures, in utter silence, smoothness and comfort, a feat which is still very hard to mach by any other drivetrain solutions, certainly when one compares them on a well to wheel pollution basis.

The manufacturer quotes an ECE average consumption of only 3.9 liters/100 km, which really sums it up. CO2 emissions are 102 g/km.

This pleasant engine and gearbox does not tell the whole story. There is even more pleasure to be had. We already mentioned the excellent driving position and seating, but after having driven a few hundred meters one also feels that this chassis and suspension scores very high indeed.

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The Talisman embodies here the pinnacle of Renault-Nissan engineering, using here its well known 4Control suspension, (4 wheel steering), and mating it to electronic damper control. This means that the driver can customize the car’s agility and road behaviour to a great extent. Indeed, one can choose between four pre-programmed sertings, Comfort, Eco, Neutral and Sport, and a personalized setting.  As said, these settings will influence not only suspension, but also engine and steering responsiveness. You therefore can have the Talisman of your own, setting up the car just as you like it. Overall, this Talisman is very lively and steers with agility and precision, giving you the subjective impression that you are driving a much smaller, nimbler car when it comes to handling.

These settings can be selected via the large (22 cm, as we said) portrait oriented touchsreen, and also via a rotary knob on the centre console, or by the “shortcut” button righ behind the rotary knob, which lets you flick between the sport and eco modes directly, without taking your eyes off the road.IMG_1456_edited small

The ambiente in the cockpit is also changed according to the chosen driving mode. The courtesy roof light changes between white, green, red or purple…along with the instrument displays, as we mentioned earlier…

State of the art infotainment

The R-link 2 connected tablet has the same tactile properties of your personal tablet, like two-finger zoom, page scrolling, and therefore using it is just a breeze. You can select the modes, the driving aids, the ventilation, audio, phone settings. These are supplemented/doubled by the rotary knob controls and the steering wheel controls, the latter which are sadly not illuminated at night. You can also personilize all the car’s settings, and bring it under one icon on the tablet, which you can then choose just with one finger click…

 

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Renault has also an R-link store, where you can download the apps you want to use in your Talisman, like Michelin, or this app which reads aloud your e mails…

 

Lats but not least there is a magnificent Bose sound system in your Talisman, consisting of thirteen speakers and a special technology converting stereo into true surround sound.

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Driving aids, with excellent adaptive cruise contol…

We greatly appreciated the smoothness, cleverness and alertness of the radar controlled cruise control, which worked with very smooth progressions, and interpreted traffic situations intelligently. There is more: like emergency active braking for instance, traffic sign detection and excessive speed warning, and functions to alert you, like lane departure warning,lind spot alert. We also liked the head up display, although it is not always clearly visible when one has a somewhat deeper seating position in the car.

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Conclusion

A stylish, comfortable five seater, offering sophistication, panache and frugality. Enhanced by state of the art electronics, infotainment and suspension, which can be personalized to suit you taste.
Further looking at this segment D contender, we would like to test it with the EDC automatic transmission, having been impressed already by the slick smoothness of the manual box.

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The Talisman is definitely a premium class car, where we can add that Renault is putting in great efforts to ensure build quality, reliability and longevity. Its styling is also timeless, so this car could be your preferred companion for years of driving pleasure…

Hans Knol ten Bensel.

 

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