Haven’t we been here before? Yes, we did test the 800cc manually-shifted Kwid back in November 2016. The good folks at AMW now offer the 1000cc version with an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT). Kumar Sangakkara has been signed up as the Brand Ambassador for the Kwid. It appears that AMW is punching hard for the Kwid to continue to be taken as a serious contender in an increasingly crowded segment. So how does this refreshed Kwid fare?
Our test Kwid 1.0L AMT in RXT spec looks largely the same as the 800cc manual one we previously tested, so it’s got a chunky, micro-SUV stance that makes those 155/80R13 wheels at each corner look relatively larger than they are, and our Kwid had the optional Foglamps which look very smart. The Kwid’s styling is such that the car looks bigger in pictures than it actually is, and it is only when you park it in a standard parking space that you appreciate that it is a small hatchback. The chequered decal proclaiming 1.0L is standard and comes only on the 1.0L variant; the 800cc one has that part in plain black plastic. The colour of our test car is Fiery Red, and there are other colours too such as Outback Bronze, Moonlight Silver, Planet Grey and Ice Cool White.
Mechanicals & Technology
This Kwid packs a 1.0 litre triple, coupled to a five-speed automated manual gearbox. You can also have the one-litre in manual guise in India, but AMW tells me that demand for that here is next to non-existent hence they will only bring the AMT. The engine puts out 67bhp at 5,500rpm and 91Nm of torque at 4,250rpm, useful gains in both departments over the 54bhp and 72Nm of the 800cc engine. The engine is also ‘Smart Control Efficiency’, and controlled by a Bosch ECU with tuning for fuel efficiency. Steering is via electrically-assisted rack. Front suspension is MacPherson strut and twist beam at the rear. Braking is by front disc and rear drum, and the Kwid sits on 155/80R13 tyres all round, with three-stud rims (yes, you can get alloys in the aftermarket). The Kwid carries tried and tested technology, and has a single ECU controlling the engine and gearbox. Kerb weight is a sprightly 697kg (unladen).
With its 180mm clearance, the Kwid is a tall car but once you settle into the driver’s seat it feels like any other supermini. You don’t sit on the car, nor under it, the height is well judged. The seat is as supportive as you can expect for the class too, and visibility all round is decent, save for the rear view mirror which can be larger. The gear selector is a chunky dial which you twist to select D, N and R. That’s it. Crank the engine which settles to a distant idle, select D on the knob and you are off with a tickle of the gas. The Kwid’s AMT is tuned for responsiveness and doesn’t tend to shift up at each and every opportunity. You can rev it to the redline (approx. 60km/h in first), and the three-cylinder thrum at the top end is not loud. We took the Kwid up to triple digit speeds and it felt better than the competition there. Bumps at speed didn’t unsettle it too much either.
When you need to kill speed, the brakes bite well with a pedal weight that is on the lighter side. Nevertheless, it’s easy to modulate and has a longer travel which means you don’t jerk your passengers around each time you breathe on it. And if the obstacle is an immovable object like a kerb, the 180mm clearance means you can sometimes climb it!
The AMT does have an Achilles heel though, and that’s hill holding and hill starts. Its tendency to shift into neutral at a standstill works against it on a hill. Take your foot off the brake and the Kwid rolls back. Give it some gas and the AMT is not the quickest off the mark. AMT transmissions (as we have previously stated) are basically manual transmissions with an electronically controlled clutch and gear shift. So the driver who is used to the traditional automatic will need a couple of days to get used to this transmission. Using the hand-brake to keep it from rolling when stopped at an incline is recommended by Renault as stated on a tag behind the driver’s sun visor. But take solace in the fact that the modern Formula 1 car’s gearbox is a direct descendent of the AMT!
Living With It
The Kwid is well-packaged for those on the go.. Many cubbies, nooks and crannies abound the cabin, plus bottle bins in the doors. It can seat five adults, but four is a more comfortable configuration. As with most Indian cars, the AC can replicate the Himalayas for you very quickly if desired, and the centre vents have a funky design. The instrument panel is functional, showing a large and bold digital speedometer, LED fuel gauge plus a smaller digital display that indicates trip and fuel consumption information. You get front power windows and central locking all round, but the mirrors and rear windows are manual.
The Kwid has a sophisticated infotainment system built by LG, which offers you radio, AUX, USB and Bluetooth (with mobile phone integration), plus navigation. This is not yet offered with a Sri Lanka map but it can be side-loaded by third party vendors. Rear speaker support and dedicated subwoofer-out are also provided, and it can be programmed to show some OBD information such as engine RPM too. The remote key for the Kwid looks and feels like it is from a more expensive vehicle too.
Rear space is decent for the class, and I was able to easily sit behind my own position, access enhanced by wide-opening doors. With all seats up, boot space is 300 litres. This is pretty decent as you get a full-sized spare wheel under the boot floor too. Some competitors have better rear legroom and dismal boot space, or vice versa. The Kwid straddles the line well.
The Kwid comes with a driver airbag which is a blessing as there are still brand-new cars on the market that don’t have this. Thankfully the government is trying to mandate airbags in cars. The Kwid also has an anti-theft system with engine immobilizer, and the AMT has several safety mechanisms built into it that warn you if you try to, for example select R while in D.
Fuel Economy & Price
During our test drive, I was able to average 15km/l (mix of high-speed and thrashing to the rev limiter, conscious economy driving and stints in stop-go traffic). When cruising at 60-70km/h, I saw figures hovering around 20-21 km/l on the instantaneous readout. When thrashing I saw 5-6 km/l on the display at the worst times, which is what certain vehicles get under normal conditions so the Kwid is quite a fuel-sipper, even when whipped soundly.
The Kwid did not get any relief from the recent budget, and thus retails for Rs. 2,872,000. This shows how insane our taxation is as the same car in India is approx. INR 430,000, ex-showroom Delhi. In terms of after-sales care, you also get a five-year / 100,000km warranty and three labour-free services included.
With the market for cars in an uncertain flux, and there being a new focus on electric cars, the Kwid still represents a sound choice for those who want a good ol’ petrol car in this price range, and it offers some quirky style and practical benefits over the competition. Recall that the car was painstakingly developed in India by a dedicated Renault team, hence they have subjected it to the worst of conditions too. So, if you are in the market for such a car, head over to AMW’s Renault showroom and take a test drive to see if the Kwid is your cup of tea.
Renault Kwid 1.0L AMT
998cc, 12-valve triple
67bhp @ 5,500rpm
91Nm @ 4,250rpm
Front wheel drive
Suspension - MacPherson Strut
Brakes - Disc
Tyres - 155/80R13
Supension - Twist Beam
Brakes - Drum
Tyres - 155/80R13
Length - 3,679mm
Width - 1,579mm
Height - 1,478mm
Kerb Weight - 697kg
Fuel Tank - 18L
Boot Space - 300L