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New Kwid with a larger heart feels peppier, more refined

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 17, 2018

Good change The new 1.0 SCe’s 999cc offers remedies for a lot of these issues, including high NVH levels that came with the current 799cc, three-cylinder engine. And the ₹22,000-price difference between the two makes the new Kwid quite a bargain

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Test_drive

The Renault Kwid 1.0 gets a new, bigger engine, delivering a significant improvement in performance, even though this is still a 3-cylinder unit

For a late entrant into the Indian automobile market with a short history of yo-yoing interest, Renault has only managed to get into the Indian car buyer’s mindspace with the Kwid.

The Logan might have launched the lozenge shaped badge here, but interest in the sedan faded out later. The Duster was welcomed with kilometre-long queues at dealerships, and was the harbinger of many other affordable sports utility vehicles to come, but after that peak interest, it has waned considerably.

The Koleos, the Pulse, Scala and the Fluence exist in Renault India’s portfolio and are very capable vehicles, but most buyers in the segments pretty much look right past them. The Lodgy has undeservedly been given the cold shoulder by buyers in the family van segment. Its sales numbers continue to stagnate.

So, for Renault, the Kwid has been the lone star in terms of sheer numbers; after all 'numbers maketh the car' in the Indian context. It is less than a year since its launch, but the Kwid has clocked good numbers and continues to be popular, taking on tough competitors like the Maruti Suzuki Alto and the Hyundai Eon. Now, it is going to aim higher, first off the line for this season will be the Kwid 1.0 with its new one-litre engine and later this year it will be joined by an automated transmission (Kwid AMT).

The Kwid 1.0 features the new, larger, 3-cylinder engine (1.0 SCe) paired with the same 5-speed manual transmission. We test drove the Kwid 1.0 in Chennai and here are our first impressions.

Design and build

When launched last year, the Kwid’s design had brought with it some freshness into the entry hatchback segment. Its SUV-like styling, even though not very convincing, brought some differentiators to a segment which was lacking any new entrants since the Eon.

The Kwid’s relatively tall stance, the squared off wheel arches and the 180mm ground clearance were all features which buyers liked; a Renault that has been made for India.

In terms of build quality, the Kwid is right up there in its segment. Compared to the exterior design’s uniqueness, the cabin is less attractive as a package, but individual elements shine as being the differentiators compared to competing cars. So, while there are a lot of hard plastic panels, the digital instrument cluster, the 7-inch touchscreen MediaNAV system, the very usable 300-litre boot and some of the other features in the top-end variant managed to pull up the Kwid’s appeal.

The new Kwid 1.0 continues to sport all of these features . In fact, the only differentiators are the contrast silver coloured door mirrors and the checkered flag decal treatment to the side panels on the doors of the new Kwid 1.0.

The new one-litre engine version of the Kwid will be available in the two top trim variants that is the RXT and RXT (O).

Performance

Our biggest gripe with the current 799cc, 3-cylinder engine was its refinement levels. High NVH levels (noise, vibration and harshness), meant that the engine sounded gruff and its behaviour while idling and accelerating always pointed to its 3-cylinder character. On the road, the Kwid 0.8 SCe’s pause-and-go acceleration is still annoying.

The new 1.0 SCe’s 999cc offers remedies for a lot of these issues.

You can still hear and feel a bit of the vibration that comes out of a 3-cylinder petrol engine, in this price segment, while revving hard or accelerating into three-digit speeds. But, during idling and at slower speeds this new engine is much more refined than the current 0.8 SCe. Power delivery also feels quicker and there is no hesitancy while accelerating from standstill. There is a more than 25 per cent improvement in performance across parameters. Peak power is 68PS at 5,500rpm, compared to the 0.8 SCe’s 54PS at 5,678rpm. Similarly, peak torque is 91Nm at 4,250rpm in the 1.0 SCe compared to the 800cc engine’s 72Nm at 4,400rpm.

Naturally, this new one-litre engine feels peppier. The 5-speed gearbox allows fairly clean shifts, except for the first gear. If you would much rather buy the automated manual transmission version of the Kwid, you might have to wait till the end of the year.

Bottom line

For an extremely light car, the Kwid’s ride quality continues to be sorted. There is not much body roll and it feels fairly planted even at three-digit speeds. But, the power steering lacked return assistance in our test mule, and there is a sort of high-pitched whistling or whining noise that came from the engine bay during steady acceleration. So, the overall engine refinement level still falls short of the Suzuki Alto K10’s K10B engine.

Also, while the new 1.0 SCe manages to match the Alto K10’s performance numbers, the fuel efficiency at 23.01 kmpl is about a kilometre less than the Suzuki’s. But, compared to the current 0.8 SCe’s 25.17 kmpl, the larger engine has still delivered decent mileage.

Due to the choice of interior trim colour and the finish quality, the Hyundai Eon will still pip the new Kwid in perceived cabin quality. But, there again the Kwid has its appeal in the number of features. The new 1.0 version also gets a bit more safety tech in the optional driver-side airbag and new, Pro-Sense front seat belts (optional too), which are basically fitted with pretensioners and load-limiters.

The Kwid 1.0 has been priced at ₹3.83 lakh, or about ₹22,000 more than the current 0.8 SCe model. With that price differential, the new 1.0 SCe is quite a bargain and is certainly the Kwid you should be buying.

Published on August 25, 2016

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