What is it?
Why should I buy it?
Clutch-less convenience, affordable six-seater
Why should I avoid it?
1.0-litre petrol engine lacks a punch
What is it?
The Renault Triber Easy-R AMT, as the name suggests, is an automatic version of the Triber. It gets the brand’s 1.0-litre Energy petrol engine which is now BS6-compliant, and comes mated to an automated manual transmission (AMT). How easy does it make the driving experience? We find out.
First up, the only thing that differentiates this AT version from the manual on the outside, is a tiny 'EASY-R' badge on the tailgate. Essentially, this compact under-four-metre MPV carries forward the attractive-looking design with this bright orange colour, accessorised elements for the grille, lower air damn and bumpers. Interestingly, it also gets projector lamps, skid plates, roof rails and cladding on the sides and fenders. All these elements continue to make it look very handsome.
How is it on the inside?
Its interior is identical to its manual counterpart with the only change being the AMT gearstick and a lack of a clutch pedal. As a result, driver ergonomics remain spot on with a nice-looking multi-layered dashboard which isn't very high. Plastic quality is not too bad for a car in the entry-level segment. All control knobs and switches get a nice smooth edge and are not a let-down. In fact, they are quite remarkable with a convenient placement including the positioning of the start-stop button with a shiny knurled effect round it. There's a selector for the rear AC vents with blower speed and air vents for second and third row as well.
Then, the front seats are quite high for a good view of the road ahead and are fairly supportive with a soft padding. One can have a comfortable overall seating for six passengers, while the adjustable second row makes it reasonably effective even for seven occupants. These can be set in different configurations and the last row is not just foldable, but can be completely taken out. If adjusted properly, there's adequate knee-room for all in a spacious three-row seating configuration. Besides, the interesting design element with elevated section on the rear part of the roof helps provide sufficient headroom. Practically the boot is good only for two soft bags with all the seats up, which otherwise goes up to 625litres, very impressive for a five-seater.
This top-spec RXZ Triber AMT packs in a lot of features as well. It gets a large touchscreen with usable features, several charging points and lot of storage spaces. It features electric adjustable ORVMs, a digital instrument cluster, keyless-entry with push-button start and all power windows. On the safety front, it comes with four airbags, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors with camera and now, with a speed-sensing door-lock as well.
How does it drive?
The Triber AMT uses Renault’s 999cc three-cylinder petrol engine that produces 71bhp and 96Nm of torque. It comes mated to an Easy-R five-speed AMT unit, a combination available with the Kwid as well. This is not the quietest of petrol engines and gets vocal post 3,500 rpm. But, Renault has tried its best to cancel out the noise, and with the windows up and the AC and music system on, it's hardly audible inside.
Put the gear-stick in drive mode and the car starts creeping ahead slowly thanks to a traffic assist function. The latter helps the car crawl forward and aid the driver to not let the car roll backwards on an upward slope. But whenever you put the pedal to the metal, you'll realise it's better to drive it slow. No, the gearbox isn't slow to respond, but the engine’s low-end torque makes it impossible to sprint quickly. Still keep it in the mid-range between 2,500-3,500rpm and it's good to move around. It automatically upshifts at around 2,500rpm with light throttle inputs, and between 3,500-4,000rpm with slightly more throttle inputs. In the manual mode, it lets you rev till it’s redline close to 6,000rpm before shifting automatically. Thankfully, this doesn't feel as jerky as it used to in the Kwid. There's a slight head nod which isn't irritating and you get used to it. In fact, it becomes easy to manipulate every gearshift where you know when to press the accelerator pedal slightly more for it to downshift.
You can cruise at 100kmph at 3,500rpm, but still feel the need of some extra power and torque for effortless highway cruising. This is particularly evident with occupants on-board. Overtaking will have to be planned cautiously as the engine lacks the punch for the car to lunge ahead. Yet, the AMT has added to the much-needed convenience with this two-pedal setup and will be a boon in traffic.
A ground clearance of 182mm and 15-inch wheels make for an impressive concoction to take on any road. Especially, where ground clearance is going to be important. The ride quality is not exactly plush, still absorbing shocks from rough roads well. That said, one will have to be a little cautious over sharp-edged potholes to avoid the suspension noise inside. Go sanely around bends and it gives a pretty settled feel. It’s even got a nippy power steering which is fairly light. However, it lacks a connected feel, doesn't self-centre quickly and so feels vague at times. That said, there's no problem in it weighing up with increase in speeds and in fact, feels reassuring even over 100kmph. However, braking from these speeds, I wish there was more feel at the pedal to confidently stop even under panic braking.
Should I buy one?
The Triber came in as a unique offering with a sporty design, roomy cabin, class-leading features and a package that impressed Indian buyers. A compact vehicle to appease a buyer's bigger demands. Now with the addition of this automatic trim, it's the most affordable automatic MPV that offers the flexibility of changing gears automatically or even taking control over it manually. Just don't look at the Triber as a true seven-seater. Instead, consider it to be a great five-seater with a big boot and the capability of accommodating two more occupants when required. Then, there's nothing amiss that makes it impractical for commuting or weekend trips. Even the engine isn't underwhelming for daily use and the Triber stands to have more elements which you will like. Moreover, this AMT trim costs Rs 40,000 more than its equivalent manual variant, still making it a great value-for-money offering.
Where does it fit in?
At Rs 6.9 lakh ex-showroom, the only other six-seater one can consider is the Datsun Go+. But then, it isn't as spacious as the Triber even though it boasts of a smoother CVT. And for reference, the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga AT starts at Rs 9.36 lakh.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi