With the Renault Kiger, it doesn’t seem as though the company’s strategy is to only grab a sizable share of India’s compact sub-four metre SUV market. In fact, the keen pricing has hatchback buyers all excited and readying their cheque book. Renault has played its cards smartly by plugging two segments which give it a better chance of success. However, does the Kiger have what it takes to skim success with only an aggressive price tag? Here are all the details.
Getting the Renault family face isn’t a bad thing, especially when it is handed down from a more premium offering to a more affordable one. But what if it’s the opposite? Like with the Kiger; at first glance, it resembles its smaller sibling, the Kwid. But, if you can ignore the passing glance and literally check it out (pun intended), then you’ll agree it’s not.
Upfront, you get Renault’s signature two-slat grille with chrome inserts which are flanked by slim LED DRLs on either end. In profile, the black cladding that runs across the length of the car and doors, along with the stylish roof rails and a strong shoulder-line adds a muscular character to the Kiger’s design. But it’s the rear that makes this Renault look most potent, thanks to the cool-looking C-shaped LED taillamps.
The Renault Kiger’s cabin uses a neat and simple design layout with dark black and grey colours splashed all over. What adds some zest to the visuals is the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and the seven-inch digital instrument cluster, both of which are customisable. But, the cost-cutting is obvious as you glance at the hard plastics, lack of soft-touch materials, and the shiny black surfaces which not only attract dust but get scratched easily. Plus, parts sharing is evident if you’re familiar with the Triber. Having said that, the quality along with fit and finish could have been better, but it is acceptable at this price point. The front seats, on the other hand, are adequately padded to offer sufficient support and when combined with the driver’s seat height and steering adjustments, make for a satisfying driving position.
We admit that the slim front seats and 2,500mm wheelbase don’t make the rear portion of its cabin larger than its rivals, however, two occupants will find it comfy on the bench with sufficient leg, head, and shoulder room. Yes, a third passenger can squeeze in too, but it will be at the cost of shoulder room. As for the boot space, the 405-litre enclosure that's devoid of intrusions can swallow more than three medium-sized suitcases, and if you need more, the 60:40 feature allows it to swell even more.
As regards features, this RXZ variant of the Kiger gets DRLs, LED taillamps, and 16-inch alloy wheels. It also offers backlit steering controls, climate control, a PM 2.5 filter, an eight-speaker Arkamys sound system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and a reverse camera with sensors. Concerning safety features, this version includes ABS with EBD, four airbags (front and side), front disc brakes, engine immobiliser, speed-sensing door locks, and a seatbelt reminder system.
The Renault Kiger’s engine and gearbox options include a 71bhp/96Nm 1.0-litre naturally-aspirated (NA) three-cylinder motor that’s mated to a five-speed manual or AMT, and, the 99bhp/160Nm 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol with a manual box that we have here. As with most three-cylinder mills, the typical thrum exists albeit in a muted form, but surprisingly, there aren’t any of the usual vibrations on the gear lever or pedals.
On the go, the engine revs freely to allow for steady progress from 1,500rpm onwards, and there’s a strong surge post 2,000rpm. Sure, it gets a bit vocal after 3,000rpm, but there’s enough grunt for most requirements till about 5,000rpm, after which, it slows and tapers down just short of 6,000rpm. We only wish the gearshifts weren’t so notchy. Apart from that, the short throws, reasonably well-defined gates (includes reverse gear) coupled with a light clutch and the short-travel pedal means shifting is far from a chore, especially in traffic.
Anyway, constant gearshifts aren’t required as it easily ambles along in the second or third gear at slow speeds. As one would expect, the throttle is most responsive in Sport mode wherein it’s eager to perform a quick overtake or allows for a swift squeeze through traffic gaps. There’s even an Eco and a Normal mode; the former nudges you to shift early for frugality while still feeling sufficient for most driving necessities. Toggling to Normal mode, meanwhile, reveals a noticeable surge in response; a fine balance of Eco and Sport.
The Kiger’s suspension setup absorbs most broken stretches and imperfections with relative ease. Although there’s some side-to-side movement on uneven roads due to the compact but tall footprint, it settles down quickly post that. Even the harsher bumps are traversed upon without sending a blow to the occupants.
Meanwhile, with more than three turns from lock-to-lock, steering into tight spots will need some arm-work. But having said that, the Kiger’s tight dimensions, compact turning radius, and light steering make it relatively easy to even perform U-turn on narrow alleys. Braking too feels adequate with just enough bite to inspire confidence. Overall, being reasonably dynamic makes the Kiger quite car-like and fun to drive.
Renault India has pulled off a smart proposition with the Kiger. One that not only rivals other compact SUVs but also gives hatchbacks a run for their money with a price tag that ranges from Rs 6.45 lakh to Rs 11.39 lakh (OTR Mumbai). What you get with the Kiger is a handsome compact SUV with a reasonably comfortable and practical cabin that’s got lots of features, has a peppy turbo motor, is dynamically sorted, and is available in several options to suit most requirements and budgets.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi.