Renault Kwid First Drive Review
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Watch Renault KWID First Drive Review
Indians love their set of four wheels. It isn’t just another asset you own but also a matter of pride and joy. For years now, this pride and joy was a Maruti. Through the decades, the Maruti 800, Zen, Alto and more recently the Alto 800 / K10 have found homes looking for their first new car. There’s no denying the fact that the A segment, of which Maruti Suzuki is the undisputed leader; forms the bulk of the volume of car sales in India. Now, French manufacturer Renault says India is all-set to become the world’s third largest automobile market by 2020. And it wants a big chunk of that pie. But with lifestyle products like the Duster, Fluence and the Koleos in their line-up, one can see why that might be a tough task to accomplish. Well, the answer to Renault’s pie eating craving, is the new Kwid. Read on to know more about our Kwid review.
The Kwid has been the darling of the social media for the past couple of months. Inspite of being officially unveiled, spy shots and specifications were followed with great enthusiasm by the Indian auto-buff. There’s method to this madness though - the Kwid is calling out the Maruti Alto and wants to beat it at it’s own game. Renault called the Kwid a ‘game changer’ during the unveil. Does it rewrite the rules for the A-segment? Let’s find out!
The Kwid isn’t your conventional looking A segment hatchback. It is something that has oodles of presence and an authoritative stance. A stance, that not many hatchbacks can boast off. Inspite of being a relatively small car (3679 x 1579 x 1498mm) it has an air of confidence about it. The Alto 800 looks feminine and rather subtle in comparison. The Kwid looks butch, rugged and a lot more masculine.
The design highlight has to be the black cladding that envelopes the lower half of the hatch. It does make the Kwid stand out among a sea of compact hatches. Thick black moulding emanates from the airdam on the front bumper and engulfs the lower third of the car, ultimately ending high up on the rear bumper. However, the blacked out portion on the door that looks like cladding is a mere sticker. Other blacked out bits include the rear view mirrors, the B-pillar and the door handles. The black cladding treatment is done just right, without going overboard - a lesson many a manufacturers can learn whilst designing their ‘cross’ hatchbacks.
The Kwid gets a large grille upfront, housing the Renault insignia. The headlamps get C-shaped chrome motifs, that adds a bit of zing to the simple design and layout. Moreover, the headlamps are smoked for that aggressive appeal.The honey comb mesh pattern on the grille gels nicely with the airdam which gets a similar pattern. The airdam is flanked by circular foglamps, that sit snugly inside a blacked out recess. The bumper gets rounded edges which flows into the flared wheel arches neatly. Another interesting bit, is that the tow hook remains exposed, right next to the foglamp on the driver’s side.
Over to the side, you’ll notice that the window line sits quite high and the glass area is nice and large. The trim badge is quirkily placed on the door trim, right next to the C-pillar. While the side does not get any distinguishable character lines, it is designed in a manner that accentuates the flared wheel arches. The subtle dimples on the door help the Kwid look more chunky than it actually is. The 155/80 R13 wheels are just the right size.
The rear has a simple design housing a large tail-gate flanked by large tail-lamps. There are no cuts or creases here. When viewed dead on, the Kwid does seem to have a voluptuous derriere.
While Renault could’ve certainly jazzed up the rear a little bit, the overall design is a welcome change. If I had to describe the exteriors in a word, it’d be ‘innovative’. It really takes a lot to make an average hatchback stand out in the crowd and Renault seems to have pulled that off nicely.
Maruti stepped the quality game up with the Alto twins, atleast where interiors were concerned. The interiors on the Kwid are more or less on par in terms of quality. The interior carries the classic budget color i.e dull grey. What breaks the monotony of the boring grey however is the piano black center console. There are little chrome accents around the cabin too - around the ac vents, ac knobs and the center console to be specific.
The infotainment system, or the ‘MediaNAV’ as Renault calls it, is available on the top-spec RXT trim. Needless to say, the system is a straight lift from the much bigger; and not to mention much more expensive, Duster. It supports USB and AUX inputs and can take calls or play music from your phone as well. It also gets navigation and just like the Duster, the infotainment system is a breeze to use. You get just two speakers with the system and the audio quality is just about average.
The wheelbase is a healthy 2422mm, a good 58mm more than the Alto800. This does free up a lot of space inside the car, especially at the rear bench. The rear bench is designed for three people, although we’d take that with a pinch of salt. While two passengers can sit comfortably at the rear, the third will make things rather uncomfortable - jostling for shoulder space with the other two occupants.
The front seats are decently cushioned and will support you well. Although the integrated headrests will make your neck complain a little. Driving position is on the higher side and you get a good view of the road ahead. The instrument cluster is digital and gets some neat looking digital fonts and a gearshift indicator as well.
The steering wheel is set at a neutral angle and it shouldn’t really be a problem for majority of the masses. The wheel itself is a nice and chunky three spoke unit and feels nice to hold. The steering is on the heavier side, but more on that later.
The Kwid also scores extremely high on utility as well. There are storage spaces on the door pads, a small shelf above the glovebox and some more storage space on either side of the gear lever. The bootspace is healthy at 300 litres, which can be extended to a whopping 1115 litres by folding the second row of seats away.
While the infotainment system and instrument cluster look futuristic; certain bits like mock dials, empty spaces on the dash and the buttonless steering quickly remind you that you are sitting inside a budget hatchback. I have to say, Renault has got the basics right. There’s a lot of space for the family and their luggage as well.
Engine and Performance
The Kwid is powered by an 799cc, 3 cylinder motor generating a respectable 54PS of power and 72Nm of torque. A five speed manual is on offer currently, the AMT version might be on the cards as well. The claimed mileage is at an impressive 25.17 km/l. While the power figures don’t seem like a whole lot, one really needs to factor in the weight of the car. At about 670 kgs, the Kwid is amongst the lightest cars out there. The Kwid can be brisk, if need be.
One of the first things that you notice, once you turn the key, is the noise from the 3 pot motor. The noise isn’t pleasant by any definition and it only gets worse as the revvs rise. Renault could’ve definitely done more to ensure better NVH levels on the car.
Once on the move, the Kwid’s ride quality quickly overshadows the noise. As is the case with most Renaults, the ride quality is nothing short of phenomenal. The suspension travel is long and you can go over broken roads without a lot of hoo-hah. The 180mm of ground clearance plays it’s part here, you can treat it like an SUV and conveniently not see a pothole in the road. Even at triple digit speeds, the Kwid feels planted and does not feel as jittery as an Alto K10.
What gives the Kwid confidence on the highways? It has to be the steering, without a shade of doubt. The steering isn’t as light as you’d expect in a car from this segment. It is slightly heavy. This weight does seem to be a problem when you need to dive into a small opening in traffic or take a quick U-turn, but it is a boon on the highways. The weighted steering makes the Kwid feels sure footed when you are munching motorway miles.
Highway manners and straight line stability aren’t issues on the Kwid. However, show the little Renault some corners and the story changes quickly. The height of car lends the Kwid an inherent body roll that it just cannot negate. It simply pitches into corners; and it is all the more apparent when you have been stepping on the gas while doing so.
In all, the Kwid is an impressive package for the city as well as occasional touring. The engine is a decent performer - although the characteristic 3 cylinder clatter is ever so slightly annoying. Speaking of safety, the top spec Kwid gets an optional driver side airbag and we recommend you tick that option.
So, does the Kwid have what it takes? From initial impressions, we think it does. It looks like no other car on the road and the mini SUV-ish design and stance make it stand out even further. It’s also got more space and equipment and an engine that performs well in tight city conditions and claims to be extremely fuel efficient as well. Lastly, there are two things Renault needs to do - one, back it up with some good after sales support and two, give it a really competitive price tag!