Renault Triber: High on innovation, but will you want one?

If your idea of a car is minimal price per square feet of cabin space (and added flexibility), the Triber is hard to beat. Else, there is a lot to scout for in the market

The Triber definitely looks unique, but not stunning, i.e. it doesn’t have the wow factor customers in the entry-level car segment aspire for
The Triber definitely looks unique, but not stunning, i.e. it doesn’t have the wow factor customers in the entry-level car segment aspire for

The Triber is unlike any other car in India. It’s just 4 metres in length and yet has seven seats, it’s a small car and yet has an AC for all three rows, and it is India’s first truly modular car (Renault says you can configure its seats in 100 different ways). This implies a lot of innovation has gone into designing the Triber. But does the Indian customer really want all this? Or would Renault have done better by designing, say, a mini SUV—something Maruti Suzuki is planning to launch soon?

The design
Its inclined windscreen, sculpted bonnet, front and rear SUV skid plates, roof rails and a ground clearance of 182 mm make the Triber look unique, but the car doesn’t look stunning, i.e. it doesn’t have the wow factor customers in the entry-level car segment, or any segment, aspire for.

However, there is more to a car design than simply stunning exterior looks. Here, the Triber does score some points, but inside the cabin.

One, the dashboard layout is neat—it’s black at the top, beige and white at the bottom, and a silver band separating the two.

Two, much thought has gone into designing storage spaces. There is a refrigerated central storage area (but it’s a task to open and close the vent that cools it), cup-holders are designed in a way these can be accessed easily from both first and second rows, there are two glove compartments for the front passenger (one is refrigerated), and door pockets accommodate big water bottles.

Three, it has AC vents for all three rows—on the dashboard for first row, on the B-pillars for second row, and on the roof for third row—and so the cabin cools in seconds.

Four, the central infotainment screen on the dashboard is minimalist, so it’s very easy to operate and doesn’t take away much of driver’s attention.
Five, there is no use of gloss or chrome on top of the dashboard, and that means there is absolutely no glare on the windscreen.

The drive
Powering the Triber is Renault’s new 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine (72 PS; 96 Nm). It’s mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox and has a claimed fuel efficiency of 20kpl. A three-cylinder unit is usually noisy and so is this one. There is no apparent lack or power, but the engine doesn’t feel peppy. The ride and handling is good and especially so on bad roads. While the gear-shift is smooth, as of now there is no AMT or automatic gearbox as an option (Renault says an AMT version will be launched soon).

The steering feedback—mechanical signals that the front tyres send to the steering wheel—is good, and you feel bumps and dips on the road through the steering wheel. This leads to safer driving. But the steering wheel doesn’t have any controls, not even for radio or voice command (most cars nowadays come with steering-mounted controls).

The modularity
The doors open very wide, so getting in and stepping out is easy. The third row seats are independent, i.e. they can be easily removed if five or less people are travelling, making space for more luggage. You can slide, recline, fold or even tumble second row seats (but for fully tumbling you have to first slide the first row seats forward).

With seven seats, the boot space is 31 litres, but with five seats the boot space is a huge 625 litres, which is more than most SUVs. The roof rails are functional, i.e. they can be used to carry light luggage (up to 50 kg).

The need
While this modularity and space management reads impressive on a brochure or a car sales pitch, it remains to be seen how customers react to it. We don’t usually see personal cars carrying seven on board inside cities, so customers might as well keep the third row seats at home. And if they do so, the entire objective of it being a seven-seater goes for a toss. If you do end up using the Triber as a five-seater, there definitely are so many other cars at almost the same price (agreed, they don’t have such a big cabin space).

The Triber is available in four variants: RXE (Rs 4.95 lakh), RXL (Rs 5.49 lakh), RXT (Rs 5.99 lakh) and RXZ (Rs 6.49 lakh). So the prices are very good, and if your idea of a car is price per square feet (and added flexibility), the Triber is hard to beat. Else, there is much to scout for in the market.

(Prices are ex-showroom, all India.)

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