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Kwid’s new face and formula to keep novelty element alive

S Muralidhar | Updated on November 15, 2019 Published on November 14, 2019

The power steering is a good addition for an entry-segment car.   -  Photo: S Muralidhar

It has an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

Renault’s entry-level small car gets a facelift that refreshes its design and features package to take on new competitors

The entry small car segment has had its share of failures; of cars that held promise but couldn’t take on the might of the Maruti Suzuki Alto. But, the segment itself seemed to be on a downward spiral, until the Renault Kwid arrived and reminded everyone that buyers in the segment are about as sensitive to that Maslow’s hierarchy style need for their vehicle to be aspirational. Around the time that the Kwid was first launched, the craze for sports utility vehicles had percolated down to the entry small car segment and the Kwid’s styling fit just right with that preference.

But, competition has moved in, and there are more options even from Renault’s own sister brands like the Datsun RediGo. There is also a new card from an old hand in the form of the Maruti Suzuki Spreso — a car that seeks an identical positioning. The Kwid needed a mid-cycle facelift; one that had to go a little more than skin deep.

Design

One look at the new 2019 Kwid that was launched a few weeks ago and you’d have to agree that Renault is keeping the element of novelty alive with this car. What you see in these pictures is the top trim Climber variant of the one-litre engine. So, yes, there are a few design elements that are unique to this one.

 

 

Yet, overall the changes make the Kwid’s exterior more sporty and boost the perception of this being a big car. It is only when you stand next to the Kwid you realise how small this actually is. The regular headlamp spot is now taken up by a simple slim LED DRL that is standard across all variants of the new Kwid. The headlamp is also now housed on the chunky spanner-shaped front fender with a layout orientation that has the grille and the airdam split at the centre. The Climber variant gets a dual colour exterior accent theme that sees metallic orange bits peeping out of the edges of trim like the faux skid plates under the fender, the headlamp housing and the door mirrors. The deep metallic zanskar blue painted panels of the Kwid I was driving was already quite striking. Chunkier fenders has also led to a marginal increase in the length of the Kwid (about 5cms), though the wheelbase continues to remain the same.

The side profile of the new Kwid also remains identical to the previous one, though the rims and tyres are not carry-overs. It now sports 14-inch steel rims and 165/70 R14 Ceat rubber. The new rims and aspect ratio for the tyres has lead to a marginal (4mm) increase in ground clearance.

 

 

The rear remains nearly identical to the previous model except for the addition of new reflectors and LED light guides in the tail-lamps. The Renault lozenge logo and Kwid spelt out in capital letters adorn the centre of the tailgate.

Cabin

The Kwid’s interior was a mix in terms of appeal because while it featured a few innovative, thoughtful additions, the material quality was still very ordinary. The new 2019 model gets changes that make the cabin look cleaner and a bit more modern, though material quality hasn’t improved dramatically. Fit and finish though is clean, with surfaces that are smooth with flush edges. Even the touchscreen housing in glossy black doesn’t seem too tacky. The orange contrast colour theme is carried into the cabin too, with some accents on the dash and the seat upholstery uplifting the otherwise all black interior.

Like the exterior, the cabin too had its share of novelty in the earlier Kwid too. The new one gets a larger 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. The instrument cluster features a new twin-dial set up that includes a tachometer with an interesting display for rpm-progression.

It is a multi-colour digital instrument display that has a matt-finish quality to it. The steering also feels better to hold with a faux leather wrap. The centre console also gets a few layout changes. The power window controls in the my top-spec Climber variant were still on the centre stack just below the infotainment screen. The rear seat is where one might find the Kwid’s compact size to be a bit limiting compared to some of the competitors.

Performance

The Kwid continues to be offered with both the 0.8-litre and 1-litre petrol SCe engines. The smaller 799cc, 3-cylinder engine is also the weaker one producing 54PS of power and 72Nm of torque.

 

 

 

The larger 999cc SCe Petrol engine is also a 3-cylinder unit, but generates a healthier 68PS of power and 91Nm of torque. My test mule Climber was the 1.0 SCe with the 5-speed manual gearbox. This engine version is also offered with an AMT (automated manual), while the 0.8-litre engine only gets the manual.

The performance characteristics hasn’t changed compared to the predecessor. The 1.0L is the peppier of the two and it does feel adequately quick for a car in this class. The trouble has been, and continues to be, how loud and like an electrical-appliance the powertrain sounds like. There is some vibration at the wheel too and there is ample aural evidence that this is a gruff 3-cylinder engine. The in-cabin noise levels get a bit annoying past the 4,000rpm level.

Of course, buyers in this segment are all pretty clear what they are buying and almost all the competitors also offer only 3-pot engines. The gearbox has a mild rubbery shift, though the gating is clean and the clutch is quite light.

Power steering is a good addition for an entry-segment car; though, self-centering and return assistance offered is quite poor. Marginal increase in weight from the added safety features mandated by new regulations hasn’t affected the performance much.

Bottom line

The new Kwid doesn’t see any changes to the suspension set up. The ride quality is similar with performance on clean tarmac being the most convincing. Taking bad roads at city speeds doesn’t lead to any significant impact on the ride quality in the cabin, though it just doesn’t sound right when the suspension is taking the impact. This is possibly because of poor insulation and sound deadening.

One of the points going in favour of the Kwid is still the number of features on offer for a car in this segment.

In addition to regulation-driven mandatory additions like a driver’s airbag, ABS, speed warning and parking sensors being offered across variants, there are quite a few others that make this Renault small car quite attractive.

Remote lock/ unlock, power windows (rear ones are optional), power steering and the LED DRLs are features that offer a bit of aspirational quality to the formula.

The new Kwid gets more than 10 different variant and trim options. Prices start at ₹2.83 lakh for the base trim 0.8L variant and go up to ₹4.92 lakh for the top trim 1.0L variant.

 

 

Published on November 14, 2019
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