A Renault small car seen testing in Chennai – is this the B-hatch?

A Renault small car has been caught testing in Chennai by a Team-BHP member. It is a known fact that Renault is launching a small car this winter for the Indian market and hence, the company must have started extensive testing of its small car from now on. However, what’s intriguing is that the car was spotted with virtually no camouflage on, except for the badges.

Looks of Renault’s test car

The test mule resembled the Renault Modus, a mini MPV which the French carmaker sells in markets such as the UK. The car has an unconventional split grille at the front, upswept headlamps and boat-like lower air dam grille with a pair of round fog lamps at the corners.

The test car had only one wiper for the large front windscreen and there exists a large air scoop between the bonnet and the windscreen. The test mule had wide outer rear view mirrors (ORVM) with turn indicators integrated into the mounting stalk of the ORVM.

renault modus photo
Photo: The Renault Modus supermini - Renault's small car for India?

The side profile has a straight shoulder line and large glass area unlike the inclined shoulder lines found in modern cars. The rear of the test mule has a wide and large windscreen while the taillamps are positioned at the same height level as the headlamps. High mount stop lamp, rear wiper and the roof antenna, which are standard on any European hatchback, were also found on Renault’s test car.

The test car seemed to be similar in size to the Renault Modus, which measures 3,790 mm in length, 1,695 mm in width and 1,590 mm in height.

Expected features and interiors

Though photos of the interior are not available at the moment, going by what we know of the Modus, we assume that the test car has a centrally mounted instrument cluster; three spoke steering wheel and a gray dashboard. The leg room for the front passengers will like be more than adequate, while the rear seat would offer the best comfort for two passengers, while the third passenger’s comfort may be average.

The UK-specific Modus has advanced features such as automatic headlights, ‘see me home’ headlights and rain sensing wipers, USB and iPod ports within the front glove box and parking proximity sensors at the rear. The rear seat has a slider to increase the legroom or boot space (293 litres, minimum).

With regard to comfort, the Modus sold in UK, is equipped with cruise control, electric power assisted steering and height adjustable driver seat. Safety features of the Modus include airbags, ABS, EBD and dedicated cornering lights. It has to be noted that Modus has received five star EuroNCAP rating for safety.

The India-bound small car may get some of the above features depending on the variants and price range in which Renault plans to sell the car here, if this is indeed the car that will be launched.

Possible Engines

Renault may source the engines for its small car from the Nissan Micra. The Micra petrol is powered by 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine that makes 74.9 hp of power and 104 Nm of torque. The Micra diesel is powered by 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder diesel engine that churns out 63.12 hp of power and 160 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. Both engines are mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.

Summing up

We have a few interesting views on Renault’s test mule and what the car means for the Indian market.

During the launch of Renault dealerships in Delhi and Chennai, Renault’s top officials have clearly stated that their small car will not be any of the models the company currently sells in European markets. Rather, the car will be an all-new model, developed by Renault in here. If that’s the case then it cannot be the Modus that will be launched here.

However, it could be that the India-bound Renault small car is ‘based’ on the Modus and the company might have been testing the performance and suspension on Indian roads. As per the results, Renault would make changes in its upcoming small car.

The official website of Renault India has an upcoming launches list with cars wrapped in covers. The small car has a tallboy outline hinting that it could be hiding Renault Modus inside.

Renault and Nissan seem to have worked out a plan in having cars across all segments in the country and so far the Renault-Nissan product portfolio, are fast filling up the gaps with new and upcoming launches.

For instance, Nissan has two products under 10 lakh, the Micra and the Sunny (launch in October) while Renault has two products, the Fluence and the Koleos in the Rs. 13 – 25 lakh price range similar to Nissan’s Teana and X-Trail.

For 2012, Nissan is planning to launch an MPV, the NV200, Renault has scheduled two launches, a small car and a small SUV, the Renault Duster.

Renault-Nissan may have planned to launch two small cars because the demand for small cars is consistently booming and hence, having another small car will further strengthen their market presence in India.

What do you think about Renault’s test car? Will it be the one that will be launched?