Is Renault’s Talisman Nissan’s next mainstream sedan?

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(July 20, 2015) Though it looks a bit like one of the designs that did not make the cut for VW’s  new-generation Euro Passat sedan, this is a Renault. Called the Talisman, it’s built off the largest version of the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s Common Module Family, the CMF-C/D. Launched in 2013 with the Nissan Rogue and X-Trial, the CMF-C/D platform also underpins the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar crossover and the latest Renault Espace MPV.

The CMF is made up of four large modules: front and rear sub-frames, cockpit, engine compartment, electric architecture and electronics. There are two or three version of these modules available, each of which is built around a standard component architecture.

This is what allows them to be combined to create different vehicles in different segments while cutting costs through economies of scale. It’s more of a mix-and-match approach than VW’s MQB structure, but accomplishes many of the same things. Renault-Nissan claims the CMF structure not only simplifies engineering, it cuts engineering costs 40% due to shared product and process engineering, and purchasing costs drop 30% through volume purchasing and other economies of scale.

There are three platform families: CMF-A for the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicles, CMF-B for mid-sized sedans and SUVs, and the CMF-C/D that covers the upper end of the mid-size segment as well as large cars and SUVs.

Over time, these architectures will be rolled out across the Renault-Nissan empire to replace all of the vehicles currently in each company’s lineup. However, no vehicles have been created from the CMF-B architecture and only one from the CMF-A; the diminutive Renault Kwid crossover developed for sale in India. It’s nearly 24 inches shorter than a Jeep Renegade.

Though it won’t be sold in the U.S., the Talisman is important for the simple fact that it points the way to next-generation Nissan Altima, Maxima, Pathfinder, etc. By adopting the CMF-C/D structure, Nissan will be able to institute a more streamlined and flexible production system that will allow any member of this structural family to be built alongside any other.

This will allow Nissan to dedicate assembly plants to particular architectures (A,B or C/D), and alter output based on demand. In addition, the B and C/D plants could be pressed into service to take overflow from each other as demand in these segments rise and fall.

Designed under the watchful eye of  Laurens van den Acker, senior vice president, Corporate Design, Renault, the Talisman is 191 in. long, 73.6 in. wide, 57.5 in. tall and sits on a 110.6-in. wheelbase. Van den Acker’s name may be familiar to some as he came to Renault in 2009 after a three-year stint as the head of global design for Mazda. Prior to that he spent eight years at Ford under J Mays whom he followed from SHR Perceptual Management where van den Acker was Senior Designer.

Mays and van den Acker met while working at Audi in the 1990s, not long after van den Acker left Turin’s Design System srl where he worked on the interior of the Bugatti EB 110. At Renault he has been in involved with design of the Twizy, Clio IV, Espace V, Captur crossover and DeZir concept.

The Talisman breaks new ground for Renault sedans, having a broad-shouldered look highlighted by a relatively high beltline and accentuated by wheels pushed to the edge of the body. And while the nose could be mistaken for that of VW’s Passat, the tail is unique with the curved trunk line underscored by taillights that extend from the outer edges of the body toward the large Renault diamond logo. These not only highlight the Talisman’s width, they are the eyes of a rear “face” where the logo is the nose and the gap between the trunk lid and bumper is the mouth.

The interior, says Renault, “combines clean lines with warmth and quality.” We’ll have to take their word on the last part, but the pictures show an instrument panel that features three distinct horizontal bands of color and texture, and a center stack that  offers three different looks. Base cars are fitted with a 4.2-in. audio system screen that displays information carried over the radio waves in Europe. These include a description of what is playing, weather and traffic updates, latest news, etc.

The next step up has an R-Link 2 connected multimedia tablet that features a seven-inch landscape format display and Bose Surround Sound. Go up one more level, and you get what you see here: R-Link 2 with an 8.7-inch portrait format display that Renault claims is a first in the Talisman’s class. The most popular and frequently used functions are on the customizable home page, and — once preferences are set — drivers can pre-select their driving and in-car ambience settings with a single click. In addition, there are shortcut buttons located beneath the display, as well as a multifunction rotary control knob on the console and steering wheel-mounted buttons. Up to six different driver profiles can be saved.

Driver assistance systems are prevalent on the Talisman and include: adaptive cruise control, emergency active braking, lane departure warning, safe distance alert, traffic sign detection with excessive speed warning, and blind spot monitoring. The available equipment list is similarly extensive: a reversing camera, automatic dipped and main beam headlights, head-up data display, electronic handbrake, hands-free trunk opening, and hands-free parking assist.

As you might expect, the Talisman has four pre-programmed driving modes plus a fully configurable setting. This allows the driver to toggle from Comfort to Sport to Eco to Neutral and create his own “Perso” mode. In each, the active damping, steering, engine and EDC transmission are altered as are the instruments, engine sound and ambient lighting.

There are two gasoline engines — TCe 150 and TCe 200 — both of which mate to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Or you can order the Energy dCi 110, dCi 130 or dCi 160 diesels shared with the Espace. Both of the smaller units can be ordered with either a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic, while the twin-turbo dCi 160 drops the manual option. All of the diesels are fitted with NOx traps and particulate filters.

The Talisman’s official launch takes place a the Frankfurt Motor Show this September, and will see the sedan joined by a four-door wagon. Both will be built at Renault’s Douai plant in France.

The Virtual Driver