The Talisman has already impressed us with its excellent comfort, style and handling. The frugality of its 130 HP Diesel engine was nothing short of astonishing. Of course we wanted to know more. Given its state of the art suspension and chassis, this Talisman would be even more exhilarating to drive with more power, coupled to Renault’s latest 7 speed dual clutch automatic transmission. The dynamic Renault PR team provided us with a magnificent top of the range “Initiale Paris” version, a Talisman which offers all the luxury and panache of a noble French automobile. It proved indeed to be an exquisite experience, just read further…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The art of downsizing…
Our test car came with the 200 HP version of the well proven 1,618 cc four cylinder direct injection turbo petrol engine, brimming with the latest technology. It has dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder of course, and offers the very latest in electronic engine management. It is derived from Renault Sport’s direct-injection turbo engine, so further comments are rather superfluous. Power and torque are therefore abundant, 147 kW or 200 HP being available at 6000 rpm, with 260 Nm of torque being available at 2500 rpm.
Feeling the impressive power of this unit, one is astonished that its size is only 1,6 liters, and it clearly shows what heights the art of downsizing engine capacity have reached nowadays. Of course, despite the very good torque, the unit needs to rev to develop its full potential, and therefore the smooth and alert 7 speed EDC transmission is an ideal partner.
The gearshift calibration is dependent on the chosen pre-programmed setting, (Eco, Comfort, Neutral and Sport) but let it be said that this gearbox is an ideal match in any driving condition for the power and torque characteristics of this engine.
Flooring the throttle in any setting will let the engine rev with pleasant staccato through the gears, with the elegant Talisman storming ahead from 0 to 100 in merely 7,6 seconds, further to a top speed of not less than 237 kmh. The truly excellent aerodynamics of this stylish limousine allows this. Indeed, the Cx of the sleek Talisman bodywork is only 0,27.
Alert and nimble…
The Talisman is very lively with this sporting engine, and will accelerate for instance from 80 to 120 kmh in “D” position in only 5,9 seconds. Furthermore, the throttle response is very dynamic, even when one has chosen de more sedate “Comfort” or “Eco” modes.
The power engagement of the transmission when starting away is also rather direct. When driving in everyday fluent traffic we therefore intuitively used the cruise control very often, as the slightest blip of the throttle lets the engine respond with eagerness.
Engaging the cruise control is very easy and intuitive, with just a small flick of your left hand thumb on the switch placed on the left branch of the steering wheel. One very soon gets the hang of this, and you can enjoy the plush comfort of the seats, the luxurious ambiente of the cabin and last but not least the comfortable suspension and chassis… while sliding quietly along, enjoying also here the excellent sound of the Bose sound system. (See also our previous test report of the Talisman dCi 130).
Considering all this power and liveliness, the frugality of this powerful drivetrain is nothing short of astonishing. Driving with zest in the “neutral” mode we achieved a consumption of 6,2 liters/100 km on average. Choosing the “Eco” setting and driving with a bit of restraint and anticipation, and the consumption drops well below 6 liters/100 km. The manufacturer quotes 5,8 liters as ECE cycle average, with CO2 emissions being 130 g/km.
The engine note is quite subdued, and is dampened in the Comfort mode, electronically enhanced in the Sport mode. In all the other modes, it is neutral.
Superb chassis dynamics
We already praised the Talisman for its chassis, and we were again impressed by its agility. The steering is quite direct, with merely 2,8 turns from lock to lock. The degree of effort required to turn the steering wheel is influenced by the chosen MULTI-SENSE modes. The Talisman steers easy and light in the “Comfort” and “Eco” settings, is firmer in the Sports setting, and neutral in the “Neutral” and “Perso” setting. We liked more the rather firmer setting, which can be selected in the “Perso” setting.
As we mentioned in our previous test, the Talisman sports 4-wheel steering. At speeds of less than 50kph, in Comfort mode (60kph in Neutral mode, 80kph in Sport mode), the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to those at the front, up to a maximum angle of 3.5 degrees. It feels as though the TALISMAN is shortening its wheelbase, and is then very nimble indeed. Above these speed thresholds, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as those at the front. This effect is now comparable to extending the wheelbase, the beneﬁts being enhanced driving pleasure, stability and an impression of safety. The Talisman responds immediately to any steering wheel movement, and feels dynamic in any setting, we found.
The chassis responds of course to the four MULTI-SENSE modes one can select, which influences the electronic damper control settings.
Thanks to solenoid valves fitted to each damper, the Talisman continuously assesses the conditions and adjusts the ride up to 100 times every second.
Let it be said that in any setting, the four-wheel steering and dampers are set to maximum safety and road holding, so we enjoyed the “Comfort” setting most of the time. Not least because any abrupt turn of the steering wheel has two effects on the car’s handling, irrespective of the selected MULTI-SENSE mode. The damper settings become harder in order to minimize body roll, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels in order to keep the car stable.
The Paris Initiale version we tested has impressive and very stylish 19 inch “diamond-effect” wheels.
Gallic elegance and luxury
The INITIALE PARIS equipment level makes for a pleasant cabin: a black or sand grey dashboard with dark charcoal or silver top stitching, Nappa full-grain black or graded grey leather upholstery, Nappa leather-trimmed (heated) steering wheel. Our test car came in the black version, and we liked it very much. We already praised the excellent features of the heated, massaging, ventilated front seats with 10-way adjustment (eight of which are electric).
Another feature we were (and are) very fond is the Connected R-LINK 2 tablet with an 8.7-inch portrait format capacitive touch screen display, along with a catalogue of applications via R-LINK Store. It changes color in function of the chosen Multi-Sense mode, as does the instrument display, as we described in our previous test.
Last but not least we were again pampered by the BOSE® Surround sound, which converts stereo signals into a multichannel signal, the tailor-engineered equalization, and not less than 13 loudspeakers.
There is also the comprehensive range of driver aids: excess speed warning with traffic-sign recognition, lane departure warning, safety distance warning, blind spot warning, active emergency braking and last but not least hands-free parking.
The noble art of French luxury car making has found a renaissance with this Talisman Initiale Paris. One has luxury, style, excellent materials and finish, and the feline panache of very alert 200 HP in an equally superb chassis, and mated to an excellent seven speed dual clutch automatic.
Electronic savvy is yours with the multi-sense modes, and last but not least the excellent, intuitive touchscreen and displays, and instrumentation which sets standards for the competition in terms of readability and elegance.
Last but not least there is excellent economy, with an average consumption around 6 to 6,5 liters being very realistic. So you have the beauty and the power to fully enjoy in this fine French limousine…
Hans Knol ten Bensel