When was the last time something small made a big change? The Renault Kwid could very well claim that achievement. The firm's new compact car, Kwid, has many elements from the Duster, and, to be honest, it's a credible elder cousin to have. The Kwid has been inspired by SUV design: it's aggressive, contemporary and striking all at once, and has rather generous proportions.
At 3,679 millimetres long, 1,579 mm wide and 1,478 mm high, the Kwid is dimensionally superior to competition. The wheelbase, at 2,422 mm, and ground clearance, at 180 mm, are both more than its competitors. Then there's the boot space — 300 litres; more than what several cars twice the price offer. Fold the rear seats down, and it grows to 1,115 litres. It's a big small car. It really is.
The headlamp style, the turn indicator positioning, and the butch front grille seem aggressive. The flared, square-ish wheel-arches look neat, but the rear looks agape. The Kwid only has 13" wheels wrapped in 155/80 rubber. There are several goodies inside. The MediaNav system with a seven-inch touchscreen appears on the centre console, as seen in the Duster, makes infotainment on the move much easier. The information display is a digital affair with a large amber readout dead centre, flanked by the fuel and temperature gauges, but no tacho.
The neat dual-tone cabin actually uses dark grey and really dark grey so it may seem monotone at first. The steering wheel has a contrast (light) grey accent, when equipped with the optional driver airbag. There's the safety aspect now. To keep costs in check, Renault only offers a driver airbag as an option on the top-spec
Another couple of elements which help identify this approach are the front seats and the lack of adjustable head restraints. At the rear, it's the same story: good space, adequate comfort, but no adjustable head-rests, and manual seat-belts.
To keep costs in check, Renault only offers a driver airbag in the top-spec RxT trim; The boot space is 300 litres. Fold the rear seats down, and it grows to 1,115 litres. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
On to the drive, and this is where the Kwid really plasters a smile on your face: It makes 54 PS and 72 Nm from its 799 cc in-line three all-aluminium petrol engine. Peak power comes at 5,678 rpm while torque peaks at 4,386 rpm. The five-speed manual gearbox slots rather cleanly and drives the front wheels. The ergonomics are spot-on, and my hand found the shifter naturally. The Kwid may have an 800 cc engine that picks up slowly, but it's light.
The base car weighs 630 kg; the RxT here, a tad more. That's 85 PS/tonne. Renault has adopted intelligent ways to reduce mass. Bolts and screws that usually total up to 20 kg are down to just eight. The intake manifold and oil sump, among other parts, are made from plastic. This further helps one crucial element: fuel economy. Renault claims 25.17 km/l, making it the most fuel-efficient petrol car on sale in India.
The suspension is well sorted. The ride quality and driving dynamics are reassuring. The steering is not too light, but not too heavy either. More grip from the tyres would be better. Even so, the Kwid feels planted. Though the roads were not the best, the dynamics shone. The rebound damping is phenomenal and it holds the road just like its big brother. The feel of the car and the assurance from it clearly — and emphatically — belie its price.
Many buy their first car simply to go from point A to B without getting drenched in a sudden downpour. Not the Kwid. If you like to drive, this is a great first car. It puts a smile on your face with its ease of driving and reassuring abilities on the road.
Need to know
Price — Rs 2.57-3.53 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Engine — 799 cc, in-line three, naturally-aspirated, petrol
Max Power — 54 PS @ 5,678 rpm
Max Torque — 72 Nm @ 4,386 RPM
Transmission — Five-speed, manual, front-wheel-drive
Weight— 630 kg
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