What is it?
Why I would buy it?
Striking design, light controls and absorbent ride quality.
Why I would avoid it?
Not peppy to drive, AMT doesn't get manual override.
The Renault Kwid revolutionized the entry-level car segment when it was launched back in May 2015. It offered SUV-inspired styling, practical interiors and sorted dynamics. But with time, the design started feeling dated and an update was long due. And that’s exactly what we have here, the 2019 Renault Kwid facelift.
Unlike other facelift models, Renault has given a significant update to the Kwid. So, you get a revised fascia that includes a two-step light setup with the upper part being the LED DRLs and the headlamps placed lower below them. The styling is striking, and further elevates the already handsome looks of the car. Then, there’s a new three-slat grille with chrome accents and a redesigned front bumper, which makes it distinctive from its competitors. Besides the new wheel covers and a different decal on the doors, the profile is identical to the older model. What's more, it also gets LED taillights, which makes the Kwid a lot more desirable.
How’s it on the inside?
Like its exteriors, the interiors of the Kwid, too, have received considerable updates. It gets a new steering wheel, a redesigned dash and a fully-digital instrument cluster. It also features the new MEDIANAV Evolution infotainment system, replete with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity and voice commands. There’s a piano black surround for the touchscreen with subtle chrome accents, which feels premium for the segment.
The air-con controls are now placed on the lower part of the central dashboard area, while the lock/unlock button, front window controls and the hazard light switches have been moved up. The placement of the window switches is unusual, and it takes some time get habituated to it. The passenger-side upper glove-box on the old car, which was quite handy to store documents and knick-knacks, has been done away with. However, the new model gets a co-driver airbag, so the trade-off is fair in our opinion.
The front seats are placed a bit low, so, you sit in them rather that on them. However, they offer good support and the view out is good too. The steering, in itself, is good to hold and being a compact car, everything falls within an arm’s reach. That said, although the rotary gear-shift knob has now been repositioned onto the centre console, we still feel that a regular gear-stick would have made things easier for the driver.
The Kwid has compact dimensions and boasts of a rear shoulder room of 1170mm, which makes it a bit of a squeeze for three passengers to comfortably sit abreast. And the all-black cabin doesn’t make things any better, as it feels a tad bit claustrophobic at the rear. That said, the new checkered seat upholstery and red accents help elevate the cabin ambience to some extent. What also works in its favour is that the Kwid gets a boot space capacity of 279 litres, which is more than the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso and the Datsun redi-GO.
As a part of the standard safety kit, the Kwid gets dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, speed alert system and front seat-belt reminder. However, it misses out on a day/night IRVM, tilt-adjustable steering and any sort of internal adjustability for the ORVMS which, if offered, would’ve given a formidable advantage to the Kwid against its rivals.
How does it drive?
Powering the new Kwid is the tried and tested 1.0-litre, three-cylinder gasoline mill that puts out a modest 67bhp and 91Nm of torque. And in our case, this motor is paired to a five-speed AMT. At idle, the motor is quite silent and refined for a three-pot unit. But get on the gas, and it starts sounding tinny while some vibrations can be felt on the steering and seats. Throttle response for the most part is predictive and power comes in linearly. And although the car isn't exactly peppy-to-drive, it doesn't feel lethargic or ungainly. The motor is on par for usual city jaunts, and power comes in a very linear manner. But, out on the highway, you need to plan your overtakes carefully as it may make you nervous in some situations, especially on this AMT version.
Now speaking of the gearbox, the AMT or automated manual transmission greatly improves convenience with its two-pedal setup. It makes use of hydraulic actuators to shift gears, and you don’t have to worry about using the clutch in bumper to bumper traffic. What’s more, AMTs aren’t expensive to make, and also easier on the pocket to maintain.
Coming back to the transmission, typical of an AMT, it is slow to react and gear-shifts aren't exactly seamless. But the shift-shock is well contained. If you are gentle on the throttle, the autobox goes about upshifting without any issues. It's only when you push the engine hard that you'll notice a considerable head-nod or back and forth movement while shifting gears. What doesn't cut-in is the fact that the AMT doesn't get a manual override. So, if you want to hold on to a gear longer or extract more performance from the engine, you simply can't do that.
The Renault Kwid offers an absorbent low-speed ride, and the suspension takes road undulations in its stride nicely as the speed increases. And over pothole-ridden roads, the side to side movement is barely negligible. On the handling front, the car offers light controls and quick turn-ins, which makes driving in city relatively easy. That said, the steering has a dead spot at the center and there’s barely any feel to it. But it offers quick turn-ins, which lets you change directions with ease. The brakes on the Kwid could do well with more bite, but there’s decent progression on offer.
Should I buy one?
The new Kwid has a striking design, and that is one reason which might induce first time buyers to consider it. It offers an absorbent ride, has light controls and packs a decent set of features too. And although it isn’t exactly involving to drive, it comes across as a practical car. That, coupled with the convenience of an AMT makes it a no-nonsense city commuter. But it also comes with its set of vices. For instance, the AMT lacks a manual override or even a creep function. All things said and done, the Kwid is a cutesy small hatchback that nails the SUV styling. And did we mention it’s also affordable than its rivals?
Where does it fit in?
Pictures by Kapil Angane