Motoring

New Kwid on the block

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The hatchback has revised styling, a redone interior and more features

If there’s one thing Renault’s game-changing Kwid successfully established, it was that a budget car need not be a basic car. Its SUV-inspired design drew in the buyers, and the relatively lengthy feature set sure gave owners the impression that they got more than their money’s worth. What we have here is the facelift of the plucky hatchback. It’s got revised styling, a redone interior and more features too.

The Kwid was a smart hatchback, to start with, and the facelift has made it more attractive still. Styling up front is all new and the new-age split-headlamp set-up conforms to the latest trends. The striking DRLs look nice and are standard across all variants, to boot. The large main headlights get chunky black bezels embellished with orange accents on this top-spec Climber.

Renault has also upsized the Kwid’s wheels from 13-inchers to 14-inchers, along with giving it chunkier 165/70 R14 tyres across the range. This not only helps the stance, but has also increased its ground clearance by 4mm, to 184mm. Attractive smoked-grey plastic wheel covers are part of the package on the Kwid Climber, while regular versions make use of simpler covers. Meanwhile, LED guide lights in the tail-lamps and the inclusion of reflectors have helped spruce up the Kwid’s rear.

New Kwid on the block

The new bumpers make the Kwid marginally longer than before, and kerb weight is also higher. The 35-40kg increase in weight is thanks to the inclusion of additional structural reinforcements required to comply with latest crash- and pedestrian-safety norms.

There are notable changes to the cabin as well. Things like the new steering wheel, instrument cluster and larger touchscreen sure help make the right first impression. The digital instrument cluster also includes a tachometer and is a huge step up from the previous one. The display is crisp and clear and the absence of a glass housing means there are no reflections at all. The new 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is also impressive. Not only is it larger than what you get on many pricier cars, it’s also slick to use and gets Android Auto and Apple CarPlay too.

New Kwid on the block

The dashboard gets some design changes as well. The storage recess atop the glove box has been done away with, while the glove box itself has been made a size or two larger. New to the Kwid is the option of a passenger-side airbag — its housing takes the place of the secondary glove box. Also, in the AMT variant, the gear-selector knob now sits on the floor console between the seats — it was previously located on the dashboard. All said, while the new design and layout looks a lot more upmarket, the quality of materials hasn’t improved. There are still plenty of places where cheap plastics have been used; and an improvement here would have helped uplift the ambience.

The front seats have been carried forward unchanged, so you are seated at a good height, which provides a fine view of the road. Even though its cushioning is slightly on the firmer side, there’s good side and under-thigh support. At the back, you are sat low, which results in a knees-up seating position. The seat base isn’t very long and you don’t have a lot of under-thigh support either. There is reasonable headroom and legroom for average-sized adults, but space is significantly down as compared to the Maruti S-Presso. The Climber does remain the only car in its class to get a rear centre armrest. Interestingly, boot space has gone down from 300 litres to 279 litres, owing to the larger wheel wells needed to accommodate the larger tyres.

New Kwid on the block

In terms of safety, all versions of the Kwid get ABS, a driver airbag, reverse parking sensors, speed warning system and seatbelt reminders, as mandated by latest requirements. The passenger side airbag, as mentioned, is a paid option, albeit only on the 1.0-litre variants. This top-spec Kwid Climber packs in quite a bit of comfort and convenience features — front power windows (rear power windows are an option), remote central locking, power steering, a rear-view camera and an 8.0-inch touchscreen.

If you are buying a Kwid, it’s worth your money to spend extra for the larger-hearted Kwid 1.0. The 68hp, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine is leagues better than the humdrum 54hp, 0.8-litre unit. That said, the 1.0 engine isn’t perfect, it is always audible inside the cabin and gets quite loud at high revs too. The power delivery isn’t very instantaneous — at low speeds, the build-up of speed is quite slow, requiring frequent downshifts to get a move on. Things are slightly better in the mid-range: this is where you can feel the progress in speed, though the power dies down after 4,000rpm. The 5-speed manual gearbox is fine, and coupled with a light clutch, moving through gears isn’t very cumbersome.

New Kwid on the block

The 4mm increase in ride height and the shift to wider tyres has made a difference to the driving experience. The Kwid has lost some of its pliancy at low speeds, and there is a bit more movement over bad roads. The suspension handles potholes well, but isn’t very silent — you can hear it working over bad roads. As before, the car feels quite planted and sure-footed at high speeds for what is a bantam-weight car. Stability is decent and the wider tyres also give more confidence in the corners. A sore point is the steering — while light and easy to use at city speeds, it lacks self-centring and does not weigh-up sufficiently at high speeds.

A point worth noting is that as a result of bigger and wider tyres, and added weight, the claimed fuel-efficiency figures have dropped significantly across all the engine and gearbox options. The 0.8-litre has a claimed ARAI fuel efficiency of 22.30kpl (2.87kpl less) while the 1.0-litre engine has a claimed fuel efficiency of 21.70kpl (MT) and 22.50kpl (AMT), which is a drop of 1.34kpl and 1.54kpl, respectively, over the previous model.

The Renault Kwid facelift has been launched at a price of ₹2.83-₹4.92 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), which makes it a great value buy. Do note, prices will increase once the BS-VI versions come in the near future. In all, the enhanced look and equipment have made the Renault Kwid more appealing than ever before.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 1:17:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/motoring/new-kwid-on-the-block/article29697797.ece

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