It’s a bold move to take on the Maruti Suzuki Alto. The Alto is, after all, Indian’s best selling car…and has been for as long as I can remember. So, let’s start by applauding the French carmaker, if for nothing else, just for investing time, money and faith in what clearly is an ambitious little project. Say hello to the Renault Kwid.
Then, we must clap some more because the Kwid looks outstanding for a car in its class. This class, of course, only comprises of affordable, small and efficient small cars; cars a dutiful son like me would buy for my soon-to-retire parents. Or maybe someone like you, in your twenties might want as your first car. Possibly even you sir – the one with the grey head and enough wrinkles to give a bullmastiff a complex – as the perfect 18th birthday gift for your kid.
But, after the ovation dies down, it’s time to find out if the Renault Kwid really is worth your time…
Why I'd buy it
Because it looks like a baby SUV; a class of cars we can’t get enough of. It also looks premium, even though if it’s only from a distance. And it’s not just the looks; the Kwid also has the ground clearance, the suspension travel and the clear visibility of an SUV. Add to it the light steering and the compact dimensions, and the Kwid is a breeze to drive and live with in the city.
It’s spacious too for its class, and the boot is big and usable. The top of the line RXT (O) trim gets a touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth telephony and navigation. Now, how cool is that for a car that costs just about Rs 4 lakh…brand new! I also love the slow speed ride. No matter what you throw at it, including tall speed breakers you might fail to spot, and it goes over it without bother – no bottoming out, no grinding of the chin or the belly, and hardly any suspension noise to make you cringe.
I also like the seats - large, supportive and still cushy.
Why I'd avoid it
I can understand the Renault Kwid is light because it needs to be efficient. But, when the car is capable of doing over 120kmph but leaves you with wet armpits every time you try and get there, it’s not good news. In fact, when you add a super light steering that’s only as talkative as a tree to an already flighty package, it spells fatigue even after an hour on the highway. I am also not a fan of the quality levels of the Kwid. The interiors get textured plastic but it still looks and feels cheap. Ditto for door handles inside and out, and the glovebox that refuses to shut.
My favourite version
There’s only one engine and no AMT option. So all you will get is a slightly noisy, 53bhp, three-cylinder petrol engine mated to a notchy 5-speed gearbox. As for the trim, I’d go for the top of the line RXT (O), because every other trim feels cheaper still.
Price: Rs 3.53 lakh, (ex-Delhi)
Engine: 799c, 3 cyl, petrol
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
FE: 25.17kmpl (ARAI)
0-100kmph: 18 seconds
Photo credit: Kapil Angane