What’s really remarkable, though, is the boot space. With all seats in place, you can easily stow two large suitcases vertically. You also have the option to fold the pair of third-row seats sideways and flip the middle row forward to create some serious luggage-carrying space. The boot’s low loading sill and wide opening also take away some stress while loading heavy luggage.
But versatility apart, the real surprise is how well the Evalia drives. Power (84bhp) and torque (20.4kgm) from its relatively small 1.5-litre Renault K9K diesel engine may seem modest for such a large MPV, but in real-world driving you don’t feel any lack of power, even out on the highway. The best aspect of the engine is the tractability, and it’s remarkable how smoothly the engine pulls from as low as 1000rpm, so it’s not a handful at city speeds. The engine feels at its best between 2000-4000rpm and the smartly chosen ratios help you keep it within this range. Driveability is good, and what further helps it as a city-friendly car is its light steering and tight turning circle.
At 1426kg, the Evalia weighs significantly less than its rivals too. You also get good grip from the tyres and, while there is a fair amount of body roll, the handling is still within safe limits. The ride quality is also fairly good, though it does feel a tad bouncy in the middle and last rows over rough surfaces, and that’s possibly down to its rudimentary leaf spring suspension. Stability is also not bad for such a tall vehicle.
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Issue: 166 | June 2013
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