Renault-Nissan's alliance brought in two more contenders at a very competitive price in the crowded space of compact SUVs. One is the Nissan Magnite and the other Renault Kiger — the one on which we will focus here. Now, despite being priced relatively lower than its rivals, it's packed with a lot of equipment and is available in a choice of petrol engines and different transmission options. All add to the mix of varied options for buyers in the heated battle of compact SUVs. Here's what a Kiger buyer can expect as we give you an in-depth idea about its on-road performance.
Design and style
Let's tick off its much spoken about exterior styling first. Kiger's design is unique and is a joint effort of Renault's teams in France and India. It's a sub-four metre compact SUV and remains distinguished with design elements like the twin-slat chrome grille, LED DRLs, tri-LED headlamps, and C-shaped LED taillights. It's also equipped with functional and good-looking roof rails and a shark fin antenna. Then, the Kiger's stance looks even better as it rides on 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels with a striking pattern. It’s one of those high-riding small vehicles like the Ignis and Punch, but due to a higher 205mm ground clearance, it has a slight edge over the similarly priced hatchbacks like the Swift and the Baleno. In fact, apart from the Baleno’s wheelbase of 2,520mm, the Kiger’s wheelbase of 2,500mm is one of the best amongst its rivals. At 1,750mm, it’s also one of the widest cars under four-metre.
We've spoken in detail about the nicely styled interior in our first-drive review which you can read here. Now we'll focus on the finer details. For instance, the digital instrument cluster shows up quite a bit of information on the go which can also be customised, a first in this segment. Since it's a small SUV, things are easily within reach and with many storage and stowage places. That said, it doesn't have large side windows or thin rear roof pillars, so you might have to glance twice over the shoulder before changing lanes. The raked rear windscreen is also small but thankfully manages to give a satisfactory view rearward. So, the only worry might be parking, which again is taken care of by its rear-view camera and sensors. Otherwise, the Kiger has got small front and rear overhangs that make parking relatively stress-free.
Even the seats, though slightly on a softer side, are comfortable enough to spend many hours on a long road trip. The lateral support helps and though there's not much under-thigh support, one can extend his/her leg easily due to loads of leg and knee-room and space under front seats. So, it's a spacious and comfortable four-seater I'd say, with a fifth person fitting in without much bother. Their additional luggage can also be accommodated in the cavernous 405 litres of cargo space. The only thing that will bother informed buyers is where Renault has cut corners, especially with fit and finish. The panel gaps are quite evident in many places, like doors, hood, and some more places on the dashboard. Also, insulation could have been improved. In fact, we even noticed dirt kick up and enter outer door sills and tail lamps, which could have been sealed in a better way.
Safety and equipment
The good thing is whether it's a manual or an automatic variant, one can opt for a top-spec RXZ variant, so you don't miss out on any features being offered. The cabin boasts all the bells and whistles like automatic climate control, an Arkamys 3D sound system with eight speakers, switchable ambient lighting, and convenience features like push-button start-stop, keyless entry, and many more. Sunroof? No, that’s the only thing missing. Otherwise, it also flaunts an easy to use eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Then, there's a seven-inch digital instrument panel, optional PM2.5 air filter, and wireless phone charger. Global NCAP hasn't awarded a safety rating to the car, but the safety suite includes dual front airbags, a rear camera with sensors, ABS with EBD, speed alerts, and more.
Engine and Performance
One can opt for the Renault Kiger in either of the two 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines. These range from an entry-level 71bhp Energy model to a peppier 99bhp Turbo version. We are yet to test the non-turbocharged model and won't really pick it knowing the benefits of this turbocharged model. This one comes standard with a five-speed manual gearbox, which we have already detailed here. It has short throws and a light clutch, but the notchy feel is all gone with this CVT. Also, looking at those seemingly endless traffic jams we think you'd want to take the stress out from your tiresome journeys with the help of an automatic. So, for now, we shall focus on the CVT version that nicely puts behind the woes of using a clutch continuously in traffic.
Let's get to the boring part first — the ECO driving mode. We can understand this one is to achieve maximum fuel efficiency, but it hampers the throttle and engine response. You'll feel as if it takes forever to make progress. Thankfully, it's not the same when you switch to Normal mode. It feels so much better with the difference in pulling power becoming apparent. Then, the throttle response gets even sharper in Sport mode allowing you to hold on to the revs for longer. Yes, you can hear the engine noise at high revs reminding you of the smaller displacement engine. But Normal mode is best at offering a good mid-range pull even with part throttle inputs.
This turbo petrol CVT isn't very different from the manual one, with the only difference in tuning being 8Nm lesser torque. Still, peak torque of 152Nm is delivered at 2,200rpm, which is lower than 160Nm at a higher 2,800rpm in manual. Interestingly, you don't feel the difference on the go and the turbo lag below 1,700rpm is well obscured by this gearbox. Again, not that this lag was quite prominent in the manual and it still lets you make quick progress. Here too, you make linear progress with consistent pulling power making it a smooth driving experience. There wasn't a moment when the rubber-band effect of the CVT was felt prominently. Yes, this CVT doesn't get a Sport or manual mode but has an L (Low) mode to provide maximum torque. This is beneficial when climbing hills or on steep inclines. We put it to the test at the steepest incline at NATRAX and it managed to climb up and down without any hassle.
So, when we had first tested its manual version in Goa, we were pretty confident it would be the fastest in its segment. With 10.2 seconds to reach 100kmph from a standstill, it indeed took the top spot in quick acceleration. Roll-on tests were also achieved with flying colours with the 20-80kmph run in third gear completed in 11.24 seconds and the 40-100kmph sprint in fourth gear in 15.47 seconds. Now, its petrol CVT derivative isn't slow either and achieved the same feat of 0-100kmph in 10.72 seconds. Kiger's acceleration figures in kick-down are also nothing short of impressive. Taking 5.94 seconds for the 20-80kmph run shows it's quick for city runabouts. Then, 7.79 seconds for the 40-100kmph sprint shows you wouldn't feel nervous while overtaking vehicles on the highway.
Ride and Handling
We've detailed this part in our impressions of the manual version and our time with this CVT has reiterated many facts. For an urban dweller, it can most certainly be the more appropriate choice over other big bulky SUVs. And that's mainly because it's easy to drive around town thanks to its light controls, decent visibility, and compact footprint. That said, the steering isn't sharp, requires three turns lock-to-lock, and won't put a grin on your face when you want to throw it around for some fun. But again the Kiger won't put you off, it doesn't lean excessively in tight corners or, for that matter, wallow over bumps. Braking feels adequate too with good bite, good grip from the tyres, and inspires confidence even when you have to drop the anchor. Then, a tight turning radius, light steering, and predictable manners still make it fun to drive.
What’s more, the car's 205mm ground clearance clears everything that comes in its way. You'll never feel overwhelmed by bumps or poorly maintained road surfaces. We went over many undulations, potholes, and rough tarmac without worrying. Never did we hear any jolt within the cabin or the suspension bottom out, thanks to the long suspension travel and high profile tyres. The suspension is well-tuned to help soak up bumps fairly well and even settles into a comfortable highway cruise than many other small cars. Then add surefootedness to it even at high speeds.
Price and Fuel Economy
The Renault Kiger is offered in four variants — RXE, RXL, RXT, and RXZ. It was launched at an introductory price of Rs 5.45 lakh (ex-showroom, pan-India). Now the prices start at Rs 5.64 lakh going up to Rs 10.1 lakh. Another good thing is that all the variants have a dual-tone paint option available at a premium of Rs 17,000. Sure, the 71bhp naturally-aspirated engine should offer adequate performance for city driving but will run out of breath on the highways. The 99bhp turbo version makes more sense for daily usability.
Renault claims 20.53kmpl for the Kiger, but our tests show it returned 10.97kmpl in the city and eventually 16.67kmpl on the highways. So, you should probably see a combined figure in the high-fourteen in real-world driving. Still, the manual version would impress you more if range is what you need, as its tested city and highway fuel economy stand at 13.27kmpl and 18.96kmpl, respectively. Thus, a combined figure of 16.12kmpl isn’t bad against its claimed 20kmpl.
The Renault Kiger is a comfortable small car with a spacious cabin and a big boot. Yes, the materials inside might not be the best in quality, but you'll not find a big issue to complain about. In fact, all the modern equipment is impressive with practicality being the essence of it. Its entry-level models also don’t look very basic, however, given the choice, we would prefer RXT or RXZ variants with all the premium features as they offer a lot of stuff for the money. Then, it's easy to drive and live with, rides well, pliable with our road conditions, and compact to suit an urban environment. All of this at a competitive price adds up to make it quite an easy-to-recommend car.
Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi
|CAR NAME||Renault Kiger|
|Variant||RXZ Turbo Petrol Manual||RXZ Turbo Automatic CVT|
|Installation||Front, transverse||Front, transverse|
|Displacement||3 cyls, 999cc||3 cyls, 999cc|
|Power||99bhp at 5000rpm||99bhp at 5000rpm|
|Torque||160Nm at 2800rpm||152Nm at 2200rpm|
|Power to weight||96.12bhp per tonne||96.12bhp per tonne|
|Torque to weight||155.34Nm per tonne||147.57Nm per tonne|
|Gearbox||Five Speed Manual||CVT|
|CHASSIS & BODY|
|Kerb weight (measured)||1030kg||1030kg|
|Tyres||195/60 R16||195/60 R16|
|Type||Rack and pinion||Rack and pinion|
|Type of assist||Electric||Electric|
|CAR NAME||Renault Kiger|
|Variant||RXZ Turbo Petrol Manual||RXZ Turbo Automatic CVT|
|PERFORMANCE & BRAKING|
|20-80kmph in 3rd gear/kickdown||11.24s||5.94s|
|40-100kmph in 4th gear/kickdown||15.47s||7.79s|
|Tank size||40 litres||40 litres|
|Seat base length||460mm|
|Loading lip height||830mm|