This, the new Renault Kwid AMT, is possibly the last chapter in the current Kwid’s evolution story. The story itself mirrors that of the high-selling Alto quite closely: First there was the 800cc, then the 1-litre came along, and now there’s the 1-litre with the AMT ‘box. And, we must say, this one is special. Sure, it has its shortcomings, but as a package for first time car buyers, it does more right than WRONG
The Renault Kwid, happily, doesn’t evoke any of that. Dimensionally, it belongs to its class but design wise it is not anything we have ever seen in the segment. With its SUV inspired styling and a much modern design, it will strike a quick rapport with both the vibrant young as well as the sanely matured. Not an exaggeration to say, this ne also proved to be a looker as we kept answering the curious beings all over.
A dark chain linked grille holds the bold Renault logo on the front with slender clear lens headlamps to the side. To add some razzmatazz, there is chrome detailing done inside the headlamps. Move behind and you would see the muscular contours curving below the grille. The fog lamp housing also gets swanky matte surround; affixed to the bumper.
The front hood has multiple characteristic lines to make it look more appealing and the same can be felt with the steeply designed windscreen. The strong shoulder line flows from the muscular wheel arch in the front before parting way and moving up towards the C-pillar. The efforts taken to make the Kwid look distinct from other offerings can be seen with intricate detailing done on the side such as scooped door handle pockets, boxy fuel lid shape and other contour lines on the side profile.
The ORVMs are done in contrasting black and need to be manually adjusted from outside. The matte cladding running over squarish wheel arches on the front and rear doesn’t look out of sync and instead blend nicely with the overall arrangement. The tall ground clearance of 180mm makes it sound relevant to the SUV inspiration and is also a best in class feature.
One step into the Kwid and you already know you are getting into a fairly spacious hatchback by segment standards. The chunky steering wheel is neatly shaped and the Kwid comes with a digital instrument cluster, which is a first for its class. It comes with a elaborate trip computer and fuel economy reading which should help budget car buyers alter their driving style to eke out more efficiency.
The quality of plastics for a car of its price is quite good except for places like the door handles and aircon controls but overall the Kwid doesn’t look like it’s built cheap. There are plenty of storage spaces in the Kwid – two glove boxes, the top one with a bottle holder, two bottle holders in the front door pockets and plenty of scooped up places in the dashboard and in front of the gear lever. The seats are of the foamy, cushiony kind, and well contoured for the front passengers. The headrest is integrated and there’s decent under thigh support. It’s a spacious entry level hatchback, and in terms of boot space, it’s better than a few cars above the segment as well. At 300 litres, you can carry a big suitcase and an overnighter comfortably.
The Kwid has the longest wheelbase in its class at 2423mm, about 60mm more than the Alto and 40mm more than the Eon. It is also much wider than its closest competition and so you get more legroom and shoulder room. The Kwid’s packaging is seriously impressive.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
The 1.0-litre Renault Kwid produces 67 BHP at 5500 RPM and 91 Nm at 4250 RPM. This basically means 14 BHP and 19 Nm more at lower RPMs when compared to the 800cc engine. The added capacity and retuned engine offers strong low end and mid-range punch. The 3-cylinder engine doesn’t feel strained now and easily picks up the pace without letting you put effort. In-gear acceleration is better now and you don’t need to shift more frequently while driving in city traffic. The 5-speed transmission still feels a bit sluggish to use but has well defined gates.
100 km/hr comes up quickly if you upshift a tad before the redline since it doesn’t feel too responsive at the higher end of the rev band. Renault has worked on the NVH levels, which makes it less noisy and it feels more refined now. The more powerful Kwid now feels at home on the highways since you can cruise around 100 km/hr with ease at lower RPMs. The claimed fuel efficiency has gone down a bit to 23.01 km/l since there is a bigger engine under the hood.
DRIVING AND DYNAMICS
Truly, the Renault Kwid 2017 impresses in many ways and that includes the ride and handling. It maintains Renault’s legacy of a fantastic ride quality, similar to what we have seen in the Duster and Lodgy as well. The potholes are not much of a bother when you are behind the wheel of the Kwid. Yes, it glides over them. The handling is something unseen in this segment and the Renault Kwid 2017 can put to shame many a cars from higher segments too. The steering is well weighted, not too light or heavy either and the feedback is quite precise.
Design is often half the battle won here in the Indian market, and so Renault is off to a good start with the Kwid. It has also armed itself well, with many trump cards like a premium cabin, plenty of space, the best fuel economy, loads of equipment and ride comfort that is class leading. And Renault has got its strategy and pricing right too. The company has been clever to save costs in areas that customers won’t notice or mind, and instead provided features – like that touchscreen – that people really want. The company also claims it will offer the lowest overall ownership cost in its class; an uphill task when you’re up against Maruti. And, with 98 percent localisation of parts, it seems to have nailed the price too. The fully loaded car tested here (the RXT with options) retails for just 3.53 lakh(ex showroom Delhi), which is only around Rs 9000 above the top of the line Maruti Alto VXi. Yes it has its flaws, mainly with the engine, which falls short on refinement and power delivery, and some of the cheaper Kwids aren’t well equipped. Still, all things considered, Renault’s Kwid clearly is a breath of fresh air in this class, and from the look of things, has all the makings of a game changer. It’s deeply desirable, clearly capable and the aggressive price is only the icing on the cake.