Forget the ‘no K(w)idding’ jokes and puns, with its sharp looks alone, Renault’s first compact hatchback promises to be a big winner for the company known to many Indians as the maker of the Duster. Built on an entirely new platform, with over 98 percent local content, the Kwid will take on the likes of the Maruti Alto and Hyundai Eon and with prices expected to start at Rs 3 lakh, ex-showroom, the Kwid has what it takes to take on the market leaders with aplomb.
The Kwid looks nothing like the sea of compact hatchbacks out there and Renault have worked hard on the looks of the car. The company have made it look like a compact SUV. Key elements include, a big black grille upfront, the plastic cladding for the side fenders and 180mm of ground clearance, which is the highest for any hatchback. There is plenty of plastic cladding on the sides as well to give it a mean and butch look and even though the shape of the headlamps is angular and boxy, they help give the car strong road presence. The tall stance also means that getting in and out will be easy for passengers but more on that later.
Unlike some of its rivals, Renault has given the Kwid well cushioned seats. Support for your under thighs as well as lower back is very good too. Renault have used a dark grey shade for the interior, which is a clever move since the beige on most rivals tends to soil rather easily. Along with the well cushioned seats the car is practical as well. There are three big glove boxes on the dashboard and plenty of places to keep big 1-litres bottles as well.
The rear seats of the car are generous on space as well and the back rest angle is good too. Legroom is decent, and head room is adequate for most needs as well. It is also the only car in its segment to offer a fully digital gauge. The boot at 300-litres is not only the biggest in this segment but also rivals some premium hatchbacks like the Hyundai i20(which offers only 285-litres).
Engine, performance and gearbox
The Kwid will come with a 800cc petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The engine develops 54bhp of power. With only 660kg to chug around this is all the power you will ever need. The engine is responsive for the most part but does tend to get a bit vocal when stretched hard. That said, performance is good and progress is rapid when you press the accelerator pedal. Its light weight makes it agile as well.
That said, the mid-range of the engine isn’t as juicy as its main rivals and you will have to rev the motor hard for that quick overtaking manoeuvre. The gearbox is slick to operate and light as well. But the Maruti Alto’s unit feels crisper, while the Eon’s feels lighter than the Kwid. This gearbox though does not like to be pushed very hard and will reward the easy shifting variety than the boy racer.
Ride and handling
Another area where the Kwid impresses is in the ride and handling department. Renault engineers claim that they have used their prowess from the Duster and transplanted the same tech into the Kwid. And it shows. The car manages to absorb most bumps with ease and despite its compact dimensions feels very well planted over long highway stretches. The steering is very light and that makes parking this car a breeze. But the light steering isn’t very feel some, which means that if you are looking for sheer driving thrills you will need to look elsewhere. Overall though there is little to complain for the average daily user.
Features and safety
Being a budget car, the Kwid will only come with a driver side airbag as a safety feature on the top model. That said, it does come with lots of other features including a segment first touch screen infotainment system, which also doubles up as the screen for the GPS-enabled navigation system. The top model also gets front power windows and power steering along with AC. Surprisingly, internal adjustment for the side view mirrors is left out. A gross oversight in today’s day and age that Renault should fix.
The Kwid offers generous cabin space and sharp looks. It drives well and has the biggest boot too. If you want a value for money car then the Kwid certainly is one of the best options out there. With an efficiency figure of 25.17kpl it’s also the most fuel efficient petrol car in India. It impresses on more fronts than its rivals.