The sub-compact SUV segment is rapidly growing in India and it’s no surprise that carmakers are lining up to grab their slice of the pie with new and updated models. Renault India is the latest carmaker to join this bandwagon with the Kiger, a sub-compact SUV/ Crossover built on the same platform that underpins the Nissan Magnite. So while the Renault Kiger operates in the sub-compact SUV segment, its direct rivals are the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Nissan Magnite, Toyota Urban Cruiser and the Tata Nexon. The Hyundai Venue and Kia Sonet are in a sub-segment of their own, which is more premium and on the heels of the compact SUV segment. So with the rivals and positioning of the Renault Kiger now clear, let’s dive straight into the details and find out its strengths and weaknesses.
Okay, no matter how you look at the front there’s no way you can shake off the Kwid resemblance from the Kiger’s face. With that out of the way and assuming it shouldn’t put anyone off let’s proceed. The Renault Kiger will definitely grab attention despite its small size and that’s primarily down to the busy design. here is a busy interplay of sharp creases and muscular lines on the grille, bumper and hood. The top positioning of the LED DRLs on top and the LED headlamps (top variants only) below is similar to the Kwid layout but with a different design.
The impressive 16-inch alloy wheels along with a strong shoulder line give the side stance a good dash of dynamism. A floating roof effect coupled up with a sloping roofline lend sportiness and a crossover style in addition. The rear features smart-looking tail lamps along with an aggressively sculpted Tailgate and a sporty spoiler and a dual-tone bumper. While looks are subjective, in my books the Renault Kiger is one of the better-looking vehicles in its segment. It’s energetic, dynamic, modern and premium-looking – pretty much all that young buyers demand these days.
The Renault Kiger might be based on the same platform as the Magnite but is vastly different on the inside just like the exterior. In fact, it’s also a lot better in terms of material and fitment quality. The touchscreen infotainment screen features an impressive design and has a simple interface too. Touch response is decent but not among the best in the segment. Where it scores better over most of its rivals is the inclusion of wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Add to this wireless charging and you can say goodbye to the clutter of cables. However, if required there are sockets for wires as well. The other good thing is that the wireless charging pad is offered as an option so it can be clubbed with any variant of the vehicle.
The instrument cluster features large and clear readouts and the steering wheel has a nice solid feel to it. The seats are good in terms of cushioning, back and side support and there are plenty of storage spaces too. Rear legroom is best in the segment and the headroom is good despite the sloping roof. Even the boot space is best in the segment but the high loading lip means that getting big bags in the boot can be a bit of a task for some.
While these are all good things, there are bits that could have been better. These include the rearview mirror, which probably in our car was had loosened up a bit. Also, the ORVMs could have been larger as their current field of view feels small. These aren’t deal-breakers though and among its direct rivals, the Renault Kiger has the most premium, feature-loaded and comfortable cabin currently.
Now, how does the Renault Kiger drive? The answer to that, in short, is – quite nice! The variant that we tested was the petrol turbocharged unit with a five-speed manual transmission. Within the Renault Kiger range, you also have the option of going for the non-turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine and you can go for a CVT or an AMT, so in terms of powertrain, there are plenty of choices on offer. Coming back to the one that we tested, certainly felt nice. This is a three-cylinder motor but despite that, once you get past the starting phase, which is when you can feel some vibration the refinement levels improve. In terms of performance too, this motor scores quite well. Once you get past the turbo lag till about 1,800 rpm acceleration turns quick and impressive.
The in-gear acceleration is also good and if you are driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic, that is where the nice driveability of this vehicle shows in. It’s a 1.0-litre motor but that doesn’t mean that you have to keep downshifting as one might think so that is a good thing for people who regularly drive in dense traffic situations frequently. That said, this engine is not one of the most refined in the segment and there is a fair bit of sound that filters inside the cabin. Hence, this motor is good for people who enjoy driving as there is good performance to be explored but it is not very refined.
The five-speed manual gearbox is paired nicely to the engine and that is one of the reasons why you get good driveability. The throws aren’t too long but I believe the shifts could have been a bit smoother. At times, when you are trying to row through the gears quickly you can feel the limitations of this gearbox as it doesn’t feel happy moving around quickly. The overall driving experience, however, is good and the Kiger is a quick car that can put a smile on your face on a good day.
Watch Video | Our detailed Renault Kiger Review:
While this engine is the same that you get on the Nissan Magnite, there is one good inclusion in the form of three driving modes on the Kiger namely Eco, Normal and Sport. As the name suggests, Sport is the one that you want to be in when you want to have fun. In this mode, the steering feels a bit heavier, the throttle response gets sharper and it also seems to improve the acceleration slightly.
As far as ride & handling is concerned, the Renault Kiger holds its fort well. As it is a compact vehicle, it feels agile and doesn’t complain about quick directional changes. Also, it feels planted and confident in a straight line and around corners too, even at high speeds. The grip from the tyres is decent and there is some body roll but it is not to the extent of killing the joy of driving. In terms of comfort, the vehicle offers a neutral ride quality and while it is not the best in the segment, it is certainly a balanced one. The surface undulations are dealt with in a nice manner and as speeds build up, it improves a bit and at city speeds and you can expect a good ride quality.
Renault Kiger’s price in India starts at Rs 5.45 lakh (ex-showroom) and if you go through the complete price list, you will notice that the Kiger range has been priced competitively. Right from the base model to the top-of-the-line variant, the value for money quotient is very high and for almost every variant, you get a good return for your investment. You get multiple powertrain and gearbox options which is a good thing and with all of that, the Kiger does emerge as a very strong contender in its segment.
Here’s the variant-wise pricing of Renault Kiger:
But the key takeaway here is the fact that in the lower end of the subcompact SUV segment, it is the Renault Kiger that comes out on the top in terms of offering a premium experience and this, in our opinion, will give the Kiger an edge over its competition and hopefully good numbers for Renault as well.
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