The Micro-SUV segment has me scratching my head quite a bit. Are they SUVs? Are they hatchbacks? Are they even capable off-road to be called SUVs? But my opinion on the segment is extremely irrelevant because the segment is quite popular and gaining ground every day. There are new players now beginning to enter with their interpretation of what a “Micro SUV” is supposed to be. With Maruti Suzuki introducing the S-Presso, and Tata Motors also gearing up to introduce the production version of the HBX Concept. Among them, the Renault Kwid stand out, solely for being the first to conceptualise the segment in 2014 and making its on-road debut in 2015.
Now, the Kwid has been given a mid-life cycle refresh with the BS6 model to update it against the new rivals that are arriving in the market. And at first glance, it is very obvious that Renault hasn’t taken things lightly. The styling of the Kwid has been reworked significantly at the front. The Kwid now gets a smarter and modern front end that is in line with Renault’s global design language for SUVs.
The new Kwid uses a split headlamp design that is becoming more common in modern SUVs. At the top are the indicators and the LED DRLs, while the main beams are positioned lower on the front bumper. The front grille is brand new as well. The rest of the car remains pretty much the same in terms of design, although other subtle changes include the new larger 165/70 R14 wheels and the updated tail lamps.
The interior of the Kwid has also been refreshed. The first thing that is noticeable is the new steering wheel and the all-digital instrument cluster that also has a tachometer. In the centre is a new 8-inch infotainment touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The displays are very crisp and clear as you would expect from a vehicle in this segment. The touch response of the infotainment system is also very good. Although Renault’s default User Interface is quite friendly, it could have been a little more exciting with more colourful graphics. Also, the volume knob could have been more prominent to make it easier to use.
The dash itself has received some design changes to be more intuitive and ergonomic. A good change in the Kwid is the gear shift knob selector being moved down to the centre console instead of being on the dashboard below the infotainment system. While the secondary glove box on the passenger side can be replaced to make way for the optional passenger airbag in the top variant, the plastic quality of the dash and trim panels have not improved. That being said, the design is quite upmarket in the standard model, even without the orange accents from the Climber edition.
The seating at the front is fairly comfortable with decent under-thigh support, but the cushioning is on the firmer side. The rear seats are fairly similar to the older model and are alright for short journeys. The under-thigh support, however, could have been better. Also, in order to accommodate the larger wheels, the boot space has been sacrificed as the capacity has gone down by 20-litres which means, slightly less room for luggage.
The variant of the new Kwid we tested was the 1.0-litre AMT automatic in standard trim. The engine has been upgraded to BS6 compliance. One would imagine the refinement levels would have improved, but the NVH levels inside the cabin are fairly similar to before. The engine is smooth and offers linear acceleration, but could use some low-end grunt. It is comfortable to drive on the highway with the 68hp and 91Nm of torque on tap. However, at higher revs, the engine noise seeps into the cabin quite a bit and it can be bothersome for long drives.
The AMT transmission, however, could have been calibrated better. The transmission is not very predictable as it sometimes holds the gears longer in some instances, while sometimes it would short shift. The shifts themselves are fairly slow and not very smooth. With no option to change gears yourself, like a tiptronic mode thanks to the shift-dial design, you are left nodding your head at every gear change. If you are in a hurry or trying to make a three-point turn, the transmission does not show urgency shifting from 1st to reverse or back to 1st. If it were up to me, I’d prefer the manual over the automatic as it would not only eliminate this issue, it would also provide better control of the vehicle to the driver. That said, if your drive mainly involves congested traffic then the Kwid AMT can do the job for you.
The steering is fairly direct, but lacks feedback and does not centre itself back. Also, the entire centre of the steering wheel is the horn. Due to the design of the steering wheel, the edges at 3-o-clock and 9-o-clock overlap the grip. This results in unintentional honking and I have not been able to get used to and it can become annoying.
The Kwid rides a little higher thanks to the larger wheels. And that hasn’t hampered the ride quality. The Kwid rides bumps fairly well with an underlying firmness that adds to stability at high speeds. The wider and larger tyres provide improved grip but have sacrificed fuel economy in the new Kwid. While it is claimed to deliver 21-23kmpl, we only managed to get around 16-17kmpl even with the majority of the drive being on the highway. And with a small 28-litre fuel tank, trips to the fuel pump are going to be frequent.
In order to understand the Kwid properly, one has to put on the shoes of who the car is designed for. At the price for which the Kwid is available, it does offer a decent amount of equipment. Although the driving experience has a lot of room for improvement, for a first-time car buyer, these may not be deal-breakers, Although I can’t recommend the automatic to anyone, especially with no control over the shifts in any shape or form. One would be happier living with the manual transmission even with the three-pedal setup. Additionally, in its segment, the Kwid offers the most contemporary and elegant styling. With looks being one of the major priorities for an Indian buyer, I can conclude that for the money, the Kwid offers great value for a first-time buyer.
Renault Kwid BS6 – Technical Specifications
Engine: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, 12-valve
Transmission: 5-Speed AMT
Dimensions (LxWxh): 3,731 x 1,579 x 1,490mm
Price of variant tested: Rs. 4.9 lakh (ex-showroom).
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