Any carmaker wishing to sell wagons (or “estates” as they are generally known across the pond) in Europe is going to have to think long and hard about how to take on the Volkswagen Auto Group. Between the VW brand handling mainstream markets and Audi offering a number of premium options, VAG is a huge market force in this segment. It might not seem so bad to look at it, plenty of carmakers sell wagons in Europe, but Renault must be feeling the pressure because there has never been a car more clearly designed to take on the Passat Estate then the new Renault Talisman Estate.

The new Talisman, in both Saloon and Estate forms, has such a German look to it that you might mistake it for a 2017 Volkswagen Passat at a glance. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the Laguna, which the Talisman replaces, had a noticeable amount of that characteristically French weirdness to it and divisive styling isn’t always the best way to sell a lot of cars. Some will see this as the French automaker losing a bit of its charm, but it’s difficult to deny that the Talisman is an attractive vehicle.

Updated 09/22/2015: We’ve added a series of new photos we took at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Find them in the "Pictures" tab.

Continue reading for my full review of the Talisman Estate.

Exterior

2016 Renault Talisman Estate
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2016 Renault Talisman Estate
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2016 Renault Talisman Estate
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The Talisman is a very noticeable improvement over the Laguna that it replaces. Just looking at the exterior lighting speaks volumes. The new horizontal layout for both the headlights and taillights, along with the C-shaped daytime running lights, give the car a more modern look than that of the Laguna’s face-lifted ’90s car look. The rest of the car looks restrained in that way that you’d expect for something that’s taking aim at the Passat. It’s attractive but not show-offy, probably what you want in a wagon. Not many will find it as attractive as the 2008 Citroen C5 Tourer, but the Citroen isn’t the one dominating the market. The Talisman is bigger than the outgoing Laguna, and the rear hatch can be opened by waving your foot under the rear bumper. Nice touch.

Interior

2016 Renault Talisman Estate
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2016 Renault Talisman Estate
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2016 Renault Talisman Estate
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The larger size of the Talisman means that it can offer more cargo space, coming in at 572 liters. This comes up short of the Passat Estate’s 650 liters, but it’s more than basically every other wagon in its segment. Five trim levels will be offered for the Talisman, allowing you to stretch up into Audi A4 territory in terms of comfort and no doubt price. The top Initiale Paris trim comes with Nappa leather and Bose audio throughout. There are 10-way heated power seats as well. The plush interior is nice, but it will likely be the large cargo area that will attract a lot of buyers.

Drivetrain

As you will often find with the European market, the Talisman will be offered with several different engines, five in total, two gasoline and three diesel. There aren’t numbers for any of these yet, though, and we probably won’t get them until the official unveiling of the car at the Frankfurt Auto Show at the earliest. Don’t expect much in the way of power from any of them though, the French don’t go for huge power numbers the way the Germans do, so fuel efficiency and low emissions will be the priorities. The gasoline engines will come with seven-speed dual-clutch transmissions, with six-speed versions for the diesels. The Talisman will also feature active suspension with different driving modes, and four-wheel steering. That’s huge.

Prices

2016 Renault Talisman Estate
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No official pricing has been announced yet, but it would be very strange if it wasn’t similar to the pricing on the Passat Estate. In the U.K., this starts at £23,870 (about $37,000) and goes up to over £39,000 (just over $60,000). U.K. pricing tends to run a bit high though, so it won’t be a straight conversion for the Talisman Estate. It should be noted that although there is an unusually wide spread between the base price and the fully loaded price on the Passat, the Talisman and its five trim levels might offer a similar spread, although the norm in this segment is for cars to top out closer to 30K.

Safety

2016 Renault Talisman Estate
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In order to compete in this segment, the Talisman Estate will need a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, as it’s not difficult to see why those vehicles that get them are the most popular in the family car segment. This is no doubt what Renault is aiming for, but there will also most likely be all sorts of electronic driver’s aides to make the vehicle that much safer. We have no specifics for these systems as yet, but that’s another thing we can look forward to at Frankfurt.

Competition

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2008 Volkswagen Passat Estate TSI EcoFuel
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Note: 2008 Volkswagen Passat Estate TSI Ecofuel shown here.

Obviously. Even if it wasn’t the genre-defining vehicle that it is, it is so clearly what Renault is aiming for. It offers the best-in-class cargo area and it can be optioned up to be reasonably luxurious. And for those who want a bit more in the way of either luxury or performance, there is always the option to move up to the 2016 Audi A4 Avant, a very similar vehicle from a higher-end brand within the Volkswagen Group.

Read our review of the 2017 Volkswagen Passat here.

Citroen C5 Tourer

Citroën C5 High Resolution Exterior
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This was the first French car to be criticized for looking too German, although this was back in 2008, so the standard has now been raised by the Talisman. Despite its supposed Teutonic styling, the C5 is generally better looking than the other cars in this segment, and it offers the superior ride comfort that you would expect from a Citroen. It is getting a bit long in the tooth, with the second generation now being 7 years old, but that means that a new version will likely be coming soon, and this one will no doubt be serious trouble for the Talisman.

Read our review of the 2008 Citroen C5 Tourer here.

Conclusion

Renault is following a proven strategy with the Talisman Estate. The question is how the new wagon will perform in the market against the VW. So much about the two cars will be comparable that a lot of it is likely to come down to the interior. Family car buyers aren’t going to pick the one that will hit 60 mph a tenth of a second faster, the one that gets one more mpg or even the one that offers a few more liters of cargo space; it’ll be the one that provides the more enjoyable experience on school runs and road trips. The French do interiors well, so it should be interesting to see how the public rates them after the Frankfurt debut.

  • Leave it
    • * doesn’t look French at all
    • * the only transmission options are needlessly expensive
    • * stupid name

Press Release

1. The Talisman Estate: Renault’s new large estate

Following the presentation of the saloon version of the Talisman on July 6, Renault has today taken the wraps off the new Talisman Estate.
The D segment (saloons and estates combined) amounts to more than one million vehicle sales in Europe each year, with estates accounting for 54% of that figure.
The new Renault Talisman Estate carries over all the benefits of the saloon version, while adding the stylish lines and practicality of an estate.

1.1 Racy styling

The Talisman Estate features exactly the same dimensions as the saloon (length: 4.86 metres / width: 1.87 metres / height: 1.46 metres / wheelbase: 2.81 metres), along with the same dynamic proportions, sleek profile and high waistline.
The polished aluminium roof bars accentuate the sweeping roofline that is extended by a long lip spoiler. The C-pillar and chrome-bordered side windows contribute to the impression of finesse and sleekness. The slope of the rear window adds a dynamic touch without detracting from boot space.

1.2 Easy to load

Thanks to the powered tailgate – which is activated simply by waving your foot underneath the rear bumper – the boot boasts hands-free opening and closing to facilitate loading.
The Talisman Estate offers 572dm3 (VDA) of load space up to the parcel shelf and a maximum load length of 1,116mm. With the rear seats in the folded position, that figure increases to 2,010mm, equating to a volume of almost 1,700dm3 (VDA).

1.3 The secret to well-being: a spacious, cabin and welcoming, comfortable seats

Designed with the well-being of the driver and passengers in mind, the Renault Talisman Estate – just like the saloon version – is a class leader in terms of interior space. The Estate version additionally benefits from 30mm extra headroom at the rear, extending it to 886mm.

Front headroom: 902mm,
Rear headroom: 886mm,
Front elbow room: 1,512mm,
Rear knee room: 262mm,
More than 25 litres of cabin stowage.
The accommodating front seats combine the very best characteristics in the class:

Up to 10 possible settings (eight of which are electrically adjustable) and a seat cushion length that can be adjusted fore/aft by up to 60mm (Initiale Paris equipment level only),
Four-way electric lumbar adjustment (height/depth),
A massage function that can be adjusted in type and intensity (two programmes / five sequences),
Aviation-style six-way adjustable head rests,
Heated seat cushions and backs,
Settings memory for up to six individual profiles.
Plus two important new features:

Integrated ventilation for greater comfort in hot weather.
New ‘Cover Carving Technology’: strong, semi-rigid, lightweight shells incorporated into the front seat backs, freeing up extra space, including more than three additional centimetres of extra knee room for rear passengers.
The Talisman Estate is also available in Initiale Paris trim, offering even greater refinement and comfort, plus an exclusive Améthyste Black exterior finish, special full-grain Nappa® leather upholstery and improved soundproofing, thanks notably to laminated side windows.

2. The Talisman Estate incorporates technologies designed to enhance driving enjoyment and traveling comfort

2.1 Multi-Sense technology combines four-wheel steering with active damping

For the first time in its segment, the Renault Talisman Estate – just like its saloon sibling – mates the 4Control system to active damping. Around town, the 4Control chassis endows the Talisman Estate with extraordinary agility. Its cornering stability and dexterity when evasive action is required position the new Renault in a class of its own when it comes to confidence and driving comfort.

Renault’s Multi-Sense technology allows the driving experience to be personalised, with four pre-programmed settings (‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’, ‘Neutral’ and ‘Eco’), plus a fully configurable ‘Perso’ mode.

The Talisman Estate is capable of changing its personality in the blink of an eye thanks to a ‘shortcut’ button that enables the driver to switch from the ‘Comfort’ to ‘Sport’ mode, and vice-versa, for example, in just two clicks. Meanwhile, the Talisman’s architecture – which features a lowered centre of gravity and a driving position close to the road – means the Multi-Sense system’s benefits can be enjoyed even more fully, especially when the particularly dynamic ‘Sport’ mode is selected. It is almost as though drivers are able to choose from several cars rolled into one. Whether they are in the mood for a spirited, responsive ride or a smooth, comfortable and refined journey, the choice is theirs – and immediate.

At the same time, the in-car ambiance is adjusted to match by adapting the colour of the interior lighting (blue, red, sepia, green or purple), the presentation and colour of the dashboard information display and the engine sound.

2.2 R-Link 2: the connected control centre

The Renault Talisman Estate offers Renault’s R-Link 2 connected multimedia tablet, available in either a 7-inch landscape format or an 8.7-inch portrait format. R-Link 2 oversees the vehicle’s driving aids as well as all of the standard duties such as the navigation, audio and climate control functions. In addition to the touch-screen display’s features are shortcut buttons, a multi-function rotary control on the centre console and additional steering wheel-mounted controls.

The home pages are now configurable, enabling the driver to directly access the most frequently employed functions or to personalise the interface.

2.3 Tailor-engineered Bose® sound

The Talisman Estate benefits from tailor-engineered BOSE® Surround Sound, produced by 12 high-performance loudspeakers and a subwoofer. Centerpoint® Technology converts the signal from stereo sources into a multi-channel signal to create Surround Sound, while the digital processing of the Bose® signal incorporates the Talisman’s own acoustic properties to generate bespoke equalisation.

2.4 A comprehensive range of driving aids (ADAS)

To reassure: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Active Emergency Braking System (AEBS).
To alert: Lane Departure Warning (LDW); Safe Distance Warning (SDW); Traffic Sign Recognition with Over Speed Prevention (TSR / OSP); Blind Spot Warning (BSW).
To assist: reversing camera; automatic dipped and main beam headlights (AHL); electronic handbrake; front, rear and side parking sensors; and hands-free parking assist.
The retractable, colour head-up display communicates useful information to ensure a relaxed driving experience: current speed, navigational guidance, driving aids (ADAS).

2.5 Driving pleasure courtesy of efficient powertrains

The Renault Talisman Estate offers the same range of engines as the choice that is available for the saloon version.

Two petrol engines:

The Energy TCe150 and the Energy TCe 200, combined with seven-speed dual clutch EDC automatic transmission.
Three diesels:

The Energy dCi 110, mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed dual clutch EDC automatic transmission.
The Energy dCi 130, similarly available with the six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed dual clutch EDC transmission.
The twin turbo Energy dCi 160 which drives exclusively through six-speed dual clutch EDC transmission.

The Renault Talisman Estate will be available with a choice of four different equipment levels and will additionally be offered in the range-topping Initiale Paris trim. It will make its first public appearance at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show and will go on sale in Europe during the first half of 2016.

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