Renault Kwid First Drive: Kwidessential Hatch
“Is that... an entry level hatch?’ was my reaction when I first saw the Renault Kwid at its global unveiling in India. I am sure we all agree that smaller cars which sit at the starting of the budget portfolio get our attention for basic and simple reasons such as its pricing and mileage. We tend to let go our secondary expectations for a logical justification that it sounds too enthusiastic to want more at this price range.
For years together, we were glued to the nation’s heroic car maker Maruti Suzuki as the cars they made catered to the needs of masses. However, when it came to want more, one simply had no option but to shell out extra and upgrade to a higher segment. Now that is not the ideal solution. And here is where Renault’s little red riding hood comes into the picture.
As dreamy as it might sound, the Renault Kwid is not just a budget hatch but a macho and angry looking crossover, made to exist and scare the clichéd offerings crawling on present day roads. Feature list includes a satellite navigation system, touchscreen infotainment unit, trip computer and many more along with the claim of best in class of mileage of 25.17 kmpl. We take it around the lazy streets of Goa for our first drive report.
The excitement levels that arise by seeing budget hatchbacks is same as seeing two slices of plain bread kept on a white plate. They appear a result of design engineer’s boredom and desperation. One can’t really blame them completely especially as the brief is to make something that fulfils the basic requirements of an automobile.
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 one 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.
The French have a way with the rear and that is for obvious reasons. On the Kwid too, it looks delicate and petite with those well rounded tail lamps and a voluptuous tail gate which definitely has a reason for its shape but looks impressive at the same time. The have made the gate tidy by limiting the labels on it, even the variant name is displayed on the rear window line. The cladding on the rear starts at a higher point and concludes the profile with the registration plate placed on the lower section and a well positioned exhaust pipe tucked underneath.
Get inside the Renault Kwid and you realise that this isn’t a normal matchbox of a cabin which might demand you to take a quick gymming session or even get your head minus from the body. The spaciousness of the cabin is the first thing that one notices followed by the rich list of options and features.
The front seats come with high quality fabrics and also offer effective lumbar support. The under thigh, though, misses on the essential cushioning but can be pardoned as the seats feel fairly comfortable. The legroom and headroom are impressive, however, the shoulder room is a tad tight, and perhaps we being on the healthier side felt it more. The rear occupants too enjoy as much comfort with decent amounts of legroom and kneeroom. It is just the flat bottom seats which will leave the occupants at a state of discomfort especially on longer routes. Importantly, it scores a lot more than its rivals as it has the longest wheelbase and is also taller and wider than the competition.
The steering wheel is apt in size with sufficient amount of support for that sudden manoeuvre. It is the instrumental cluster of the Kwid wherein the gizmoness is felt for real. The digital layout displays primarily the speed in big block numbers followed by distance to empty, average fuel consumption, instantaneous mileage, average speed, tripmeter and also fuel left in the tank. If that’s not all and you need some more guidance while driving, there is a gear shift indicator too. Everything packed in that tiny cluster and then there is more.
Since we were nestled in the RxT variant, which is the top of the line option, it comes with a 7-inch touchscreen system with voice assist satellite navigation system, Bluetooth telephone connectivity and other host of entertainment options. Yes, you read that right, the Renault Kwid offers all of that. So the next time you plan to boast of the features in your premium hatch, think of the Kwid.
There are numerous smart storage options inside the cabin. On the dashboard, there is a triple zone storage option with the top zone offering 5L of space with a pocket for a litre class container in it. In fact, it came in handy to stow my DSLR camera. The exposed middle zone offers 3.4L of space while the bottom zone has 5.5L. The front central console too has pockets to keep mundane essentials. The door pockets can hold a litre class container each in addition to the space offered. What really makes a statement is the large and generous boot area, which is the best in class at 300L more than Alto 800, Alto K10, Eon, WagonR, Celerio and even the Swift and i20 Active.
The quality of trims and fit and finish plastics is very impressive especially as Renault had to run on a tight line to maintain its price. The dual tone interiors of ebony and grey look neat and paired with red inserts on fabrics look very fresh and young. The air-conditioner vents are unique in shape with solid blinds and chrome garnish. The piano black surround around the central unit looks upmarket. Leaving a great finish on all of these is nice as they are visible to the eye but more importantly run a deeper look on the console edges, door hinges, carpet area corners and you will realise that the Kwid is a well finished product made with serious levels of workmanship.
And finally to the performance of Renault Kwid, which has been a popular concern among many prospective buyers of this hatch. To begin with, the Renault Kwid is essentially a city car with an occasional potential to map highways and long routes. It gets a brand new 3-cylinder 799cc motor that makes 53 bhp and 72 Nm of torque. At idling speed, the engine is extremely silent, unlike typical triple cylinder layouts.
It is a light weight engine and the reason for that is the use of aluminium in manufacturing of the cylinder block. The design of the motor has been optimized to make sure the losses are limited and the fuel efficiency is higher. Also, helping the motor act in the best way possible is the active 5-speed manual transmission.
Firstly, the motor doesn’t feel drowsy needing frequent slaps to wake up and make those horses run. Shift it to neutral and give it a gentle rev, it shows some good level of enthusiasm. Get it moving and you realise the first gear is very tall and that is because the smaller displacement of engine shouldn’t leave you lagging behind in traffic. It is only with additional shifts and more revs, things appear to settle down.
So this is no hot hatch. Yes, it does look angry and progressive but let not that distract you from sane style of driving as the Renault Kwid is essentially a city mapper. What I particularly liked about the motor is the fact that tackling traffic and catching up with others on the road wasn’t so difficult as I’d thought it to be. The revs add on to the confidence to be pushed further with the only annoying thing of the engine noise seeping inside the cabin. Can’t really complain much about it as that’s what a smaller displacement odd-cylinder configuration does.
Must say, the shift quality is impressive for a car of this segment as we did manage to torture it with great numbers of shift to make the engine rev at its peak and there was no sign of resist from the transmission unit; a boon for the city traveller where you otherwise end up building an arm like Arnold. Post dodging the city lights, we took it on the long stretches of straight road and on that too the motor continued to surprise us with its smooth power delivery.
Even though it is the largest in dimensions compared to its rivals, driving it in narrow lanes or manoeuvring through traffic is very easy. The light steering wheel makes all of that possible. It is only on highways where you feel the need of more feedback from the steering wheel. Supporting to the act are the 155 / 80 R13 tyres sourced from JK Tyre. Unless and until you are doing city speeds, going around shopping and more of the similar, these tyres do a decent job but the moment they are made to take a hard turn, there is a great level of discomfort with high levels of understeer.
But then crawling over uneven surfaces is not much of a challenge for this red boy as the Kwid gets a ground clearance of 180mm. This paired with MacPherson strut for front suspension and rear twist beam unit keep the body completely insulated from any uneven undulations on the road. They also do a fabulous jog of completely absorbing the disturbance. The NVH levels too are something to elaborate as no matter where we drove it, the ambience noise barely seeped inside the cabin and also there wasn’t any redundant noise felt.
It is a Renault at the end of the day and this is felt with the way the Kwid handles. There is a slight roll felt around corners at high speeds but the entire setup does a great job of maintaining its straight stance. Renault rightly claims that the Kwid mimics the Duster by offering similar level of driving dynamics, which has to be its salient feature. To make sure there isn’t much of drama when it comes to bringing the vehicle to a complete halt, it gets disc brakes in front and drum on the rear. Since there is no ABS offered for now, the tiny rubbers screech to glory during abrupt braking. We wish the brakes to be tad more effective. Overall, it leaves an amazing impression and is undoubtedly the best city car to drive in its segment.
|Power in Bhp/RPM||53 / 5678|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||72 / 4386|
|Wheel base mm||2422|
|Kerb Weight in Kg||660|
|Ground clearance mm||180|
|Fuel tank capacity L||28|
|Tyres||155 / 80 R13|
|Features - Renault KWID||RxT|
|Dual Tone Dashboard||Yes|
|Digital Instrumental Clustre||Yes|
|5-Position Air Distribution||Yes|
|On-Board Trip Computer||Yes|
|Door Map Storage with 1-L bottle Holder||Yes|
|Rear Parcel Tray||Yes|
|Gear Shift Indicator||Yes|
|Media Navigation System||Yes|
|Bluetooth, USB and Aux-In Support||Yes|
|12V Power Socket||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Power in Bhp/RPM||53 / 5678||48 / 6000||55 / 5500|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||72 / 4386||69 / 3500||75 / 4000|
|Wheel base mm||2422||2360||2380|
|Kerb Weight in Kg||660||720||725|
|Ground clearance mm||180||160||170|
|Fuel tank capacity L||28||35||32|
|Tyres||155 / 80 R13||145 / 80 R12||155 / 70 R13|
The are multiple reasons to state that Kwid is a strong product from Renault as firstly, it is a global car made from scratch and not a mere downsized or upgraded variant of any other car. The CMF-A platform, which powers the Kwid, has been designed and tuned to take care of all the present and upcoming needs and requirements. The same platform has potential to churn out cars with varied body types.
The localization percentage is the highest by any manufacturer at 98% and this will give Renault a strong advantage to price the Kwid at its competitive best. To top it up, this small of a crossover looking hatch delivers 25.17 kmpl speaking about the high levels of optimization done. Features like Media SatNav, Trip computer and touchscreen infotainment, which otherwise wasn’t expected in the segment, will leave a strong impression among its buyers.
Renault also doesn’t wish to limit itself to the matured class only as they have 60 categories of personalization options with 6 accessory packs and 25 lifestyle decal options especially for the young class of buyers. This can let the user uniquely customize his Kwid with roof rails, front bumper guard, side cladding with Kwid etched on it, ambient light, illuminated sill plates, steering wheel cover, custom seat covers and much more.
The brand has also worked on strengthening its dealership network which has grown from 35 to 205 and that too in just 4 years of its existence in India. They have incorporated use of high end technology to ease the buying process and that has been done by introducing virtual showrooms where anyone can connect online and get a complete presentation of the product with an option of payment gateway. All of the info about the Kwid can be accessed on your smartphone too using the Kwid app.
At its global unveiling in Chennai, Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO – Reault, stated that the Renault Kwid price will be between Rs 3 lakhs to Rs 4 lakhs, if true will work wonders for this entry level car. We however expect a more realistic top end on road price of Rs 5 lakhs for the fully loaded variant. But then, is it all about the right pricing for the Kwid to be a success?
Not really! I do sound contrary to the generic voice but let me explain. Getting the Kwid slotted in the correct price bracket is important but not the only deciding factor. Renault needs to make sure that all the information of and around the Kwid gets passed on in the best form to its target audience and this means enriching the pre-sales experience by making the sales team at dealerships sound enough to provide answers to all sorts of questions and also explain the numerous options and features in detail.
So can the Renault Kwid make it your parking? Yes! if you are bored with the blandness of majority of entry levels cars and want something unique to upgrade with crossover styling and loads of features as bonus, this is the Kwidessential buy.