2015 Renault Kwid Test Drive Review
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Renault Kwid Review

Car Tested: 2015 Renault Kwid RxT (O)

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 3.07 – 4.19 lakhs

The Renault Kwid offers terrific value with a host of segment first features, it is a different small car

The small car segment witnesses the maximum action with large volumes year on year. When it comes to entry level hatchbacks, Maruti Suzuki has remained unchallenged. While potent products such as the Hyundai Eon tried hard to snatch the pie from the Alto, the Indo-Japanese alliance was having none of it. Even the Datsun GO could barely create an impression. Undoubtedly, this segment is tough to crack and when Renault decided to take on the challenge, we knew it wouldn’t be an easy task for the French. However, the guys from Renault seem to think otherwise and have done their homework rather well when it comes to the all new Kwid. We drive the new Kwid in Goa to find out what exactly is going for it.

Motor Quest: The Renault Kwid made its global debut in India in May 2015 by Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. Designed majorly in India, the Kwid is a global car which will make its appearance in other countries after being first launched in India. Based on the new CMF-A platform, the Kwid has been tested across Renault’s facilities in France, Japan, Korea besides India. It is the first car in India to be launched with 98% localisation enabling Renault to price it very aggressively.

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The SUV styling looks butch, muscular and stands out in the crowd

Exteriors – The first impression is the last impression and if you have one good look at the Kwid, you wouldn’t agree more. The design is the result of the work put in by Renault’s design centre in Mumbai. Inspired by SUV styling, the Kwid has a lot going for it and looks more mature and accomplished compared to the competition. The front fascia gets the typical upright face with a bold structured grille on which the Renault logo sits. The windscreen is steeply raked which adds to the SUV elements along with the black lower bumper trim. The side profile gets SUV-like bold fenders with black cladding along the wheel arches on which the side indicators are integrated. The short front and rear overhangs give it a big car feel. The rear imbibes the same styling elements and is highlighted by the large tail lamps, integrated rear spoiler and black SUV-like lower bumper trim.

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The Kwid gets a segment best ground clearance of 180 mm, very apt for India

The SUV inspired styling gives the Kwid a big car feel, it stands out

Dimensionally the Renault Kwid is in not only longer but wider too having the segment best wheelbase of 2422 mm (58 mm more than the Alto, 37 mm more than the Eon). Length measures 3679 mm (284 mm longer than the Alto and 184 mm longer than the Eon) and width is 1579 mm (89 mm and 29 mm wider than the Alto and Eon respectively). Ground clearance of 180 mm is better than most higher segment cars. However, the Kwid appears to be taller than it is and that’s attributed to the clever styling elements which make it look larger. As per measurements, the Kwid is just 3 mm taller than the Alto while the Eon is higher by 12 mm. You can also customise the Kwid as per your style. Renault is offering 60 accessories for the car, in case you don’t have time to pick and choose, you can go in for any one of the 6 accessory packs which will be provided by the dealer. To take the customisation a step further, Renault is also offering an option of 25 decals to choose from.

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The interior layout is simple and clutter free, 7-inch touchscreen is a segment first

Interiors – Renault has spent a lot of time in market research and it shows once you get inside. The dashboard layout is simplistic and Renault has gone with a dual tone grey dashboard which looks neat and uncluttered. In the centre is a piano black fascia which houses the 7-inch touchscreen audio system which has Bluetooth telephony and navigation. It also supports USB and AUX connectivity. This is the exact same touchscreen system which is seen in the Duster and Lodgy and is a segment first. Sound quality is very average from the two front speakers. The AC cools very well and we didn’t notice a significant loss of power while going uphill with the AC on.

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There is good space inside the cabin and the seats are also quite supportive

The cabin is very roomy with the segment best interior room

The biggest USP of the Kwid has to be the interior space. There is so much room inside that the Renault Kwid feels a segment higher than it is. Shoulder room is abundant, something which is lacking in the competing cars. Headroom is pretty good in the front row and is decent in the second row, but extremely tall passengers may find rear headroom just about enough. Even with a six-footer driving the car, there is generous space for rear passengers. The front seats are quite supportive and the red, grey and black upholstery looks young and sporty. The rear bench offers good support and is sufficiently long too but under-thigh support is lacking for tall passengers. There are plenty of storage options in the cabin. There are two glove-boxes in front with a recess in the centre to keep odds and ends. The front doors have large pockets which can accommodate a couple of bottles each. Storage areas are also seen in front of the gear lever and under the handbrake.

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The Renault Kwid gets the biggest boot in the segment at 300-litres

The steering feels nice to hold while the instrument cluster gets a digital display with gearshift indicator and on-board computer which shows average fuel efficiency, instantaneous fuel efficiency, amount of fuel consumed and distance to empty. Boot space is huge measuring 300-litres (123-litres more than the Alto and 85-litres more than the Eon). The seats can be folded to increase the boot space in excess of 1100-litres. There are some areas in the cabin where cost cutting is evident. There are no pockets in the rear doors or behind the front seats. The rear seatbelts have to be manually adjusted and are not retractable. Power windows are provided for the front windows, the rear ones are manually operated.

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The Kwid offers a power to weight ratio of 85 PS per ton making is quite quick

Performance – Powering the Renault Kwid is a brand new SCe 3-cylinder DOHC gasoline engine. This 799cc motor churns out 54 PS of power at 5678 RPM and 72 NM torque at 4386 RPM. On paper the figures are pretty much at par with the competition but consider the Kwid’s weight of 669 kgs, the power to weight ratio bumps up to a massive 85 PS per ton which translates to a peppy driving experience. Switch the car on and the engine settles into idle. A 3-pot motor has an inherent issue of vibrations, especially on idle and the Kwid also shows these characteristics. At idle, the doors as well as the steering end up vibrating and one can’t help but feel that NVH could have been better.

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The 0.8-litre petrol unit has a strong mid and top-end but NVH could be better

Renault has managed to make the Kwid very frugal, performance is ample thanks to the light weight

Mated to this engine is a 5-speed manual transmission. The gearbox feels a tad notchy but we reckon it should settle in with use as our car had barely 300 kms on the odometer. The gear ratios are well spaced for majority of driving scenarios. Power delivery is linear, just like any petrol car and the Kwid feels more comfortable at higher revs. The Kwid gets to 40 km/hr in first gear, 75 km/hr in second while third gear takes you to over 100 km/hr. In gear acceleration is decent too with the car pulling well from 60 km/hr in fifth gear. The engine becomes quite audible as you give it the beans but pulls pretty well at higher revs.

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The brakes are strong but tend to lock up on hard braking, no ABS offered

Renault claims that the Kwid delivers an astounding fuel efficiency of 25.17 km/l (highest for any petrol car in India) as per ARAI. This is majorly attributed to the reduced weight of the vehicle over its rivals. As a baseline, a 10% reduction in weight results in a 12% increase in fuel economy. The reduction in weight has been done by incorporating plastic parts such as the fuel tank, some of them in the engine as well. Inspite of using plastics to reduce weight, Renault claims that robustness has not been compromised at all. Renault has equipped the Kwid with a gearshift indicator which will help improve fuel efficiency by helping one drive in the optimal gear.

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Handling is average and the steering doesn’t have a confident feel at high speeds

Driving Dynamics – Ride quality of most Renault cars is quite good. The Duster excels in this department while the Lodgy is pretty good as well. Going by these standards, we can expect the Kwid to be doing well when it comes to ride. The Kwid has been set up with McPherson struts with lower transverse link up front while the rear is a twist beam suspension with coil springs. In practicality, the ride quality is quite good and one barely feels the bumps inside the cabin. Though majority of our drive was on smooth tarmac, the broken section of the roads did not flutter the Kwid. Having a ground clearance of 180 mm adds oodles of practicality as the Kwid is unlikely to scrape its underbelly on the worst of speed bumps.

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Ride quality is quite good and the Kwid can take bad roads in its stride

Ride quality is surprisingly good but handling is neutral, steering is vague

The Kwid gets an electronic power steering which is quite light at low speeds and moving around the city in rush hour traffic is quite easy. However as the speeds go north, the steering does not weigh up as expected and feels quite numb. Cruising on the highway at 100 km/hr is not a problem but the Renault Kwid does not inspire enough confidence for you to push it harder. This is attributed to its lighter weight too. It still feels more planted than the Eon but this really is not very critical in this segment. For the common user, the handling is best described as neutral. The brakes bite well and the JK tyres do a good job in stopping the car but on hard braking the wheels tend to lock up. We feel ABS, as an option, should have been considered.

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The digital instrument cluster feels quite modern and has a gear shift indicator

Safety and After Sales Service – Safety is not given its due importance in this segment as the consumer is more focused on value rather than safety features. However, Renault is offering a driver’s side airbag as an option. There is no ABS offered, even as an option. The biggest clink in Renault’s armour is after sales support. The company has been steadily expanding their dealership network which will be about 205 sales and service outlets by the end of 2015. If Renault can deliver a good post sales experience, there is no denying that the Kwid can be a very big hit for the French manufacturer. The Kwid will come with a standard 2 years/50,000 kms warranty with a 2 year paint and anti-corrosion warranty. Renault is also offering a segment first, free roadside assistance for 2 years. The warranty can be extended for 3 or 4 years for a nominal fee.

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The Renault Kwid comes across as a terrific value for money package

Verdict – The Renault Kwid offers a lot to the entry level buyer for a very competitive price. Though the prices have not been announced, Renault has openly stated that the Kwid will be priced between Rs. 3-4 lakhs (ex-showroom). The SUV styling is a big crowd puller and most will be sold on its looks alone. The entry-level Renault has a lot of segment first features, oodles of space and scores high on practicality. With 98% localisation, Renault claims the Kwid will be the most economical car to maintain in its segment. It also ticks all the right boxes when it comes to performance and fuel efficiency. If Renault can get its after sales service right, there is no stopping the Kwid from being a runaway success.

The Renault Kwid impresses with its SUV-like design, commanding driving position, oodles of cabin space and a host of segment first features. The 800cc motor delivers decent performance while delivering the best fuel efficiency figures for any petrol car in India. The Kwid delivers on both the desirability and practicality front and comes across as a perfect car for the first time buyer.

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Lots of storage spaces inside the cabin but rear door pockets are missing

What’s Cool

* Attractive SUV-like styling, will grab a few eyeballs
* Looks bigger than it actually is
* Loads of features offered for an entry-level car
* Abundant space in the cabin and boot with good shoulder room
* Most fuel efficient petrol car in the country
* Ride quality is quite good
* Unique customisation options available
* 2 years free road side assistance

What’s Not So Cool

* Feels too light at high speeds, steering feels quite vague
* ABS not available, not even as an option
* NVH at idle could be better

Alternatives: Maruti-Suzuki Alto 800, Hyundai Eon, Datsun GO

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Renault has a winner in the Kwid but after sales could be a challenge

Renault Kwid Specifications

* Engine: 799cc, 3-cylinder DOHC
* Power: 54 PS @ 5678 RPM
* Torque: 72 Nm @ 4386 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* 0-100 km/hr: 16 seconds (est.)
* Top Speed: 146 km/hr (est)
* Fuel Consumption: 25.17 km/l (ARAI)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: McPherson Struts (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)
* Tyres: 155/80/13
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear)
* Safety: Driver Side Airbag (Optional)

Renault Kwid Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 3679 mm X 1579 mm X 1478 mm
* Wheelbase: 2422 mm
* Turning Radius: NA
* Ground clearance: 180 mm
* Boot Volume: 300 litres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 28 litres
* Kerb Weight: 669 kgs

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The Kwid offers space, fuel efficiency and practicality in one terrific package

Testers’ Note:

“I had been for the global unveil of the Renault Kwid In Chennai earlier this year and was impressed with the Kwid on face value. After driving it extensively, I can say that Renault surely has a winner on its table. The Kwid impressed on all fronts and should cater well to the fuel efficiency and value conscious Indian buyer. If Renault can provide good after sales service, the Kwid can be a game changer for the French manufacturer.” – Javeid Khan, Deputy Editor, MotorBeam.

Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta