Don't you feel good when something is specifically built for you? For example, a suit or for now, an automobile. Renault has designed the Triber specifically for the Indian as well as emerging markets. The Triber is a 7-seater vehicle. If you notice, I am not using the word MPV here because Renault doesn't want to call the vehicle one. It is also designed to be a vehicle with more seats when compared to the Maruti Swift or the Hyundai Nios. After all, these are the cars it is supposed to compete with. Yes, Renault doesn't pitch it against any other MPV (heck, I used the word) and says it is targeted for those needing an extra pair of seats. Is this the car that you should buy instead of hatchbacks or sub-4m sedans? Read on to find out.
I must say am quite impressed with what am seeing right now. You approach the top-spec Triber trim with the key in the pocket and the doors unlock. The moment you walk away, they lock. The Renault Triber has an appealing stance, not too much of MPV thrown in when you consider the Datsun Go+, its cousin and competition too. It must be said though that there is a difference of Rs 1 lakh between the two in the lower trims while the top models are separated only by Rs 50,000, with the Datsun working out to the more affordable car. This being said, the Triber has a new 3-slat grille, projector headlights, LED DRLs, muscular skid plates and 15-inch alloy wheels. These design traits take it closer to an SUV than MPV. There unfortunately are no fog lights or provision to add them. The side profile, from a distance makes it apparent that the Triber is based on the Kwid. The split eagle-beak tail lamp looks distinct.
The Triber's cabin has a newness to it. The black and grey theme looks good. You also notice the 8.0-inch touchscreen system that comes with an eco driving indicator as well as the usual Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Must say the touch sensitivity could have been better. In fact, in broad daylight, reading it seems a bit difficult on the move and changing tracks too. You see there are no steering mounted controls and the only thing one has to do is use the touchscreen infotainment. The instrument cluster is all-digital and in fact, there is no glass separating it from the user. It though is a bit hard to read on the move, especially as to which is the fuel gauge and the temperature one. This though is something, customers will get used to. There is a closed cavity near the handbrake and it has a cooling vent too. These will help keep those soft drinks cool. The door pockets too are wide enough to hold 1.0-litre water bottles.
You can see that the second row is decently spacious and can also adjust for more space. The headroom as well as underthigh support too are good. The AC vents for this row are given on the B-pillar. Moreover, the third row isn't as bad as it seems. The access to it is by sliding ahead the second row. There are separate vents for the third row on the roof. However, someone like me is a tight fit there and unless we are going to some short distance party, I will not want to be there. Renault projects this as a modular vehicle and it indeed is. You can remove the third row entirely and keep it home, a la Lodgy. The boot space increases to 640 litres in this fashion. Even the second row splits 60:40, aiding enhanced usage. There is a USB slot for the back passengers as well.
Engine and transmission
The Triber uses a new "Energy" 3-cylinder, 1.0-litre engine. It is tuned to produce 72hp of power and 96Nm. The choice of transmission is a 5-speed manual though an AMT will be available in sometime along with the BS-VI engine. The claimed mileage is 20kmpl. Now that we got all the numbers out of the equation, let's concentrate on the driving part.
You do feel a bit of vibrations from the pedals even at start-up. More often than not, the engine will remind you of the Kwid. The test car that I drove, had its clutch (light) biting point at the fag end, much like a 2004 Maruti WagonR's. Moreover, the engine refinement could have been better. The good part is that it is quick to rev as well. Hurried progress isn't this engine's forte though. You can drive around in town in third gear with just two passengers on board. However, loads will require one to downshift a gear or two. Moreover, quick overtakes too aren't possible at a higher gear. I quite liked the 5-speed gearbox though.
Ride and handling
The Triber's suspension makes you aware of road irregularities through audible clunks. But the beauty is that it transmits very little shocks to the cabin. This is a forte of almost all Renaults in India and the Triber carries it ahead. Even with three people on-board, the car didn't bottom out anywhere. This also demonstrates that its 182mm ground clearance isn't for namesake, something another media house showed with a full board of passengers. The steering wheel is decently communicative for the application it is intended for. The turning radius too is no bigger than a Baleno in real life and that makes it maneuvering in narrow streets a breeze. I though wish Renault had given a bit sharper brakes. The disc-drum combination isn't the most communicative around and some more feedback will be appreciated. I wish the rear view camera had dynamic grid lines and even a better clarity. On the safety front, there are three rear parking sensors, four airbags and ABS with EBD. Dual airbags are standard as are the other required safety regulations.
The vehicle handles predictably and has a better cornering manners (read less body roll) than its Datsun cousin. A Swift though will be a bit higher benchmark and the Triber is no where close to it.
At a price range of Rs 4.95 lakh to Rs 6.5 lakh, ex-showroom, the Triber is more affordable than the aforementioned hatchbacks. It offers more space (a feather on the cap for Renault's engineers) and as much equipment too. The engine could do with a bit more power but then at this price point, quality wise as well as value for money proposition, nothing comes close to the Triber. It indeed is a worthy alternative to the Hyundai and Maruti hatchbacks. This stands good only if you don't have seven people to ferry around all the time but more often than not, a decent amount of cargo to haul.
Images by Sandipan Borah