Looking beyond the popular French lozenge, Renault Kwid is as Indian as an automobile has ever gotten. In addition to highest ever localization level of 98%, the new global entry level hatchback has been designed and developed primarily in India. Renault is confident that it has come up with a proposition so compelling that it will change the dynamics of the nation’s largest four-wheeler segment.
So, has the Duster maker done enough to mount a massive coup on the country’s current best seller and shatter the near monopoly? We eagerly packed our bags to Goa on a mission to find out the answer.
Let’s face it, the budget small car segment in India is in a dire need of design freshness and that’s exactly what Renault Kwid offers in abundance. With a pioneering SUV-ish styling, well balanced proportions and an excellent road presence, Kwid looks nothing like conventional competitors.
The bold squarish snout is composed of elements that are clearly a few sizes larger than what is currently the norm in the segment. A twin slat black grille with dumb-bell shaped vents and a prominent chrome diamond badge take the centre stage, complemented by interesting headlamps. The circular fog lights nestled in a black background, trapezoidal secondary air dam and black plastic lower body cladding further add to Kwid’s rugged character.
The term hatchback doesn’t really fit well with Kwid’s profile as it looks more like a micro crossover than a small urban runabout it actual is. Plastic clad squarish wheel arches, bulging sheet metal design, big rub strip work well to make for a muscular appeal. However the plastic wing mirrors and old school lift type door hands look tacky.
The uncluttered rear fascia with an imposing black bumper, a neat windshield and simple taillights complete what is a beautiful design.
In terms of dimensions, Kwid outplays its rivals. It measures 3,679 mm in length, 1,579 mm in width, 1,478 mm in height and has a wheelbase of 2,422 mm. If that doesn’t impress you, then a ground clearance of 180 mm and a massive boot capacity of 300 litres certainly will. A light kerb weight of around 660 kg (accurate figure yet to be disclosed) comes as an icing on the cake.
Renault Kwid takes the game forward with the interior as well. The dashboard design doesn’t try too hard to impress you but instead relies on its simple layout to help the sense of space. A chunky steering wheel with an hexagonal boss offers a nice feel and the fully digital instrument console is a nice touch. However, the display could do with better contrast when the natural light in the cabin is bright.
Sealing the top place in a lengthy list of first-in-class features is the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is derived from Duster. Housed in a neat piano black finished centre console, the unit incorporates MediaNav, Bluetooth connectivity, USB, Aux-in and radio. AC controls adopt a traditional setup.
In a bid to have a simple (read cost effective) wiring architecture, Renault’s engineers have located the front power window and central locking buttons on the centre console. The car gets two glove boxes separated by a usable open slot, a cubby hole ahead of the gear lever, and front door pockets.
The supremely comfortable front seats offer optimum cushioning along with excellent side bolstering and lumbar supports. The driver ergonomics is good for most part but we would’ve liked steering wheel rake adjustment on the top-end variant. Class leading dimensions are put to good use to carve out a very comfortable rear bench. Leg and shoulder rooms are generous by segment standards and the seat itself features adequate thigh support and a good reclining angle.
Engine and Gearbox
Renault Kwid may be having an appeal of an SUV inside out but what lies underneath the skin is undeniably a small car hardware. A newly developed 799 cc three-cylinder 12-valve petrol engine which produces 54 PS at 5,678 rpm and 72 Nm of torque at 4,386 rpm. The motor drives the front wheels by means of a 5-speed manual transmission. The figures may seem modest but are at par with the segment standards. The claimed fuel economy of 25.17 kmpl certainly stands out.
Under idling, the motor does sends out vibrations that can be felt throughout the car but things take a turn for better once you get going. Considering that it’s a three-pot mill, power delivery is smooth and the overall refinement level is comparable to fellow small cars.
Like any good city car engine, Kwid’s unit has a fantastic part throttle response in the first three gears and a low-end which is strong enough to carry out the urban chores. The car lacks a tachometer so we’re unable to pinpoint the power band but that said, we loved its mid-range power and its ability to rev freely. To sum it up, Kwid performs admirably well in the environment it’s designed for at doesn’t disappoint even when asked to do more.
The gear ratios complement the engine very nicely, making the car very easy to use. The clutch pedal and shift actions are light but second to third (and vice versa) tends to get a bit jittery during enthusiastic driving.
Ride, Handling and Braking
Renaults have always been know for their balanced ride and handling package and Kwid isn’t any different either. The hatchback sails through most road imperfections without bothering the occupants irrespective of the speed. The economic usage of sound deadening materials results in suspension noise filtering into to the cabin but there is a big car feel in the manner in which the baby Duster behaves.
Tall ride height obviously translates into significant body roll but that doesn’t keep you from having fun behind the wheel. Composure around corners is impressive with skinny tyres being the only limiters. The electric steering system system builds up decent weight at speeds and is delightfully light under urban conditions.
Braking is courtesy of front discs and rear drums. Although we didn’t get an opportunity to test its performance under panic braking, we found the overall performance to be satisfactory.
In a nutshell, it’s safe to say that Renault Kwid has the best-in-class ride and handling characteristics.
Features and Safety
The fully loaded variant packs fog lights, body colored bumpers, hub caps, a touchscreen infotainment system with 2 front speakers, Champion red upholstery, chrome accents for AC vents, upper glove box, electric power steering, front power windows, central locking with remote, cabin lighting, rear parcel tray, engine immobilizer, etc.
Safety is addressed by an optional drive side airbag on the top-end trim but ABS is a glaring omission. While Renault didn’t elaborate on the vehicle’s crash safety, it did explain that the light kerb weight is arrived at by means of a holistic design approach and careful selection of materials rather than compromising on vital load carrying members of the monocoque.
Variants and Colors
Renault Kwid will be available in four trim levels namely STD, RXE, RXL and RXT. The car is available in five exterior color options – Fiery Red, Ice Cool White, Moonlight Silver, Outback Bronze, Planet Grey.
Renault has promised a launch Kwid in the range of INR 3-4 lakhs (ex-showroom) and the price alone should seal the deal for many customers. The product is packed with pioneering design, a highly efficient engine, impressive kit, exceptional cabin space and a commendable ride and handling package. It emerges an unmatched value proposition.
Renault Kwid questions the status quo and makes a very strong case of itself by doing so. Yes, it’s essentially a budget urban runabout deep down but it brings a disruptive innovation in terms of styling and frugal engineering that definitely has potential to bring about a paradigm shift in customer preferences.
Renault has proved that an affordable car need not necessarily be cheap. Now, all it needs to do is support the brilliant vehicle by continuously increasing its dealership network and offering a stress free ownership experience.