Metroplus

Shift to auto gear

The Renault Kwid 1.0 with AMT  

The Kwid’s success is a case study of how to launch a budget car. In a segment full of bland cars, it stood out with its SUV-like looks, long features list – especially the much-coveted touchscreen – and unlike what was expected from a small car, offered space and a decent ride too. Not one to take it slow, in just 11 months since its launch, Renault added a 1.0-litre engine option to the line-up as well.

To further strengthen its appeal, the carmaker has now introduced an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) on the 1.0-litre variant. Once the preserve of only higher segment cars, automatic gearboxes are now sought after in the budget segment too, thanks to the affordable AMT technology.

On the styling front, the Kwid 1.0 AMT looks just like a regular car, except for a small ‘EASY-R’ logo at the rear. The AMT is also offered only on the top-end RXT (O) trim, which offers a driver airbag as standard.

Once inside, what you notice immediately is the lack of a gear lever. In its place is a fairly-deep storage space. The Kwid has a dash-mounted rotary knob, where all other AMTs offer a gear lever to select the driving mode. The next surprise is the inability to manually influence a gearshift, as there is no lever to tip, or paddles to flip, and the knob offers only three choices – forward, reverse or neutral. The AMT tuning then had better be spot-on.

Coming to the rest of the cabin, the AMT variant is similar to the manual car, which is a good thing, as you get ample room and usable storage spaces like the twin glove boxes and the large 300-litre boot. There is also the unique touchscreen and the digital speedometer unit.

By not offering an option to manually change gears, Renault seems to be confident about the AMT’s gear-shifting abilities. So, just how good is it? For starters, there is no creep function, which means you don’t have to keep your foot on the brake pedal when the car is stationary in neutral, which is convenient. However, a creep function is useful whilst crawling in traffic, when you’re parking or starting from an incline.

Dab the accelerator and the clutch engages smoothly, resulting in a controlled and progressive start. Of course, the gearshift is not as smooth as in conventional but more expensive automatics, but as AMTs go, this one is quite impressive. There is a slight pause between gear shifts, but it’s not that pronounced, and the ‘head-nod’ so typical of AMTs is very minimal. It’s only when you open up the throttle that the nod gets more noticeable, and some gear changes will be accompanied by a clunky noise. But everyday driving situations won’t really be a hassle, because the gearbox does not second-guess your inputs and the shifts in most cases are exactly what you would expect.

Every AMT requires the use of the handbrake on inclines and so does the Kwid. There is some amount of rollback before the car can move forward, but here too, it is far lower than what you experience on most AMT-equipped cars in the market today. The 1.0-litre engine is unchanged, and outputs the same 68hp and 91Nm as in the manual. So there is adequate power for most overtaking moves and highway cruising.

Is it worth your money though? There are times when you’ll miss having the option of shifting gears manually, like when you’re in a hurry and would like a greater degree of control. However, the Kwid’s affordable automatic gearbox doesn’t have the drawbacks typical of AMTs. The clutch engagement is smooth and progressive, offering you a controlled start, and the gearshift quality is by far the best we have experienced on an AMT, whose main drawbacks are slow and jerky gearshifts.

Additionally, the automatic offers even better mileage than the manual car, which increases its appeal. So, with what is probably the best AMT in the business, and strengths like cabin space, good feature list and excellent ride, this version of the Kwid is definitely the pick if you’re on the lookout for a budget automatic.


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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 7:16:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Shift-to-auto-gear/article16440954.ece

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