Renault dropped a bomb on us in 2014 with the KWID concept. As radical as it was, it was probably the first time an all-new concept from a European company had debuted in India. And when it transformed into a production car, it was launched with a promise – a promise of being an alternative to the Altos and the Santros.
The Kwid’s story is more like the David and Goliath story, with the little car having to fight a mammoth brand like Maruti and proven products like the Alto. And yet, it has managed to make its mark and we are here to find out the reasons for it. So we put the Renault Kwid 1.0-litre through the five labours that we have chosen and see how it performs.
Sitting at the beginning of the spectrum of cars, the Kwid is an entry-level hatchback and practicality is the basis of its design. The space in the Kwid has been optimised to provide enough space for all its occupants. For example, it has two glove boxes, one on top of the dash in front of the passenger seat and one underneath. Probably the export-spec Kwid doesn’t get the top glove-box, because there would be a passenger airbag sitting there.
The Kwid has ample storage spaces including the two glove boxes, three bottle holders, one cup-holder and cubby holes in the front. Between the two-gloveboxes is a recess which comes very handy to stow away stuff that you will not need every now and then. The bottle holders in the front door pockets are good enough to fit in two to three litre-capacity bottles of water each and then some stowage space.
But for those sitting in the back, there are none and that is disappointing. Because, the rear seats are quite comfortable and even with a tall six-foot-plus passenger in the front, the person sitting in the backseat doesn’t need to scooch uncomfortably.
It is great because of its practicality and space and to top it off, add the 300-litres boot-space to it. To put things in perspective, the Maruti Suzuki Swift has a 205-litre boot. So luggage is never a problem as long as you are smart enough to pack it into small units that you can stack effectively in the boot.
You cannot expect adjustable headrests or seats with lateral support in this segment and no, the Kwid doesn’t have any of these. But when it comes to comfort, the seats are good enough. If the roads are good, you will not feel tired even after a 400-km drive through the day, even for those who prefer sitting in the back and relaxing. Nikhil’s expression says it all.
At speeds beyond 100kmph, the Kwid tends to float around even when it is loaded. On inclines, you have to hold on to the gear and rev it slightly and avoid the temptation of shifting up because, then, you will have to shift back down again. But again, when you think of it as a sub-five lakh offering, it doesn’t seem that bad.
As we said before, practicality is in the Kwid’s genes and that’s what makes it a good commuter. The petite dimensions make it easy to fit it into any tiny space left in the city. The turning radius of 5m is quite tight to help you squeeze in and out of gaps quite easily. You just have to spend some time with the car to factor in its body proportions. The flared wheel arches which look nice and macho might scrape if you aren’t careful while cutting close. Also the louvered bonnet isn’t that easy to judge especially when it comes to the front left corner.
Otherwise, it is all fun. It takes on the pockmarked and potholed Indian roads with elan. It is softly sprung which means the ride is good at city speeds. But if you get carried away with its SUV looks, you are in for some heart-wrenching thuds. Not that the car loses its composure, it just sounds like you might have broken something.
The best part is that the Kwid is a no fuss car. You fill it, shut it and drive for it is economical as well. It returns 15kmpl on an average for a mix of bumper-to-bumper city commute and a few miles on the highway. Certainly not bad for the 1.0-litre mill.
The 67bhp 1.0-litre three-pot mill is actually quite nice. The 91Nm of torque gives the 800-kg car enough tractability for city roads. It launches well in the first gear and you can walk it in second without clutching once you get the hang of it. It feels peppy at the beginning of the rev range and if you keep revving it, it will surprise you with the power delivery towards the top. But then, you will have to deal with its audible whine and vibrations.
While nobody bothers about handling in this segment, the Kwid is actually a decent handler. Despite its tall-boy proportions and lack of an anti-roll bar, it has predictable manners around corners. The suspension loads up and stays there until the tyres run out of grip and even when that happens, it hardly snaps back making it very predictable to play around with. It’s just that the top-heavy feel and body roll needs some getting used to, initially.
The Kwid has the best feature list in its segment. When you are paying under Rs 4 lakhs, ex-showroom, for the top-spec 1.0-litre manual transmission Kwid, a touchscreen display with Bluetooth, USB and AUX connectivity is certainly a winner. The audio system comprises of a two-speaker setup in the front only and sounds strictly okay.
It gets manual air-conditioning with heater function, front power windows, central locking and power steering. Asking for internally adjustable wing-mirrors might be a bit too much but then that would have been a good touch.
The motorcycle-like digital instrument cluster is trendy. It reads out the odometer, two electronic trip meters and a detailed trip computer with average speed, time elapsed and average fuel economy as well. It also displays the real-time fuel economy and distance to empty, features that are novel to this segment.
Now that you have reached this far, the verdict is not too difficult to guess. It gets almost four ayes out of five which makes it a winner after putting it through our five labours. But it is not as much a fairy tale as it might seem to be. There are a few chinks in the armour but when you are running on such a tight budget and you have to deliver on so many fronts, they are acceptable as an inevitable result of practising economy. But what is undisputed is that the Kwid is certainly a good all-round car in the budget segment and the one that offers you with features as you move up through its trims.
Photos: Kapil Angane