Words - Mohit Bharadwaj
The demand for SUVs in India has been and still is at an all-time high. Back in 2015, it was also the reason Renault introduced the SUV-like Kwid. It was designed with 2 different ideas merging together; the aforementioned demand for SUVs is what inspired its tall dimension and second, Renault’s aim of a small A-segment car which would bring volumes for the manufacturer. Working over this idea for the French manufacturer was Gerard Detourbet, who was also the brains behind cars like Logan, Lodgy and ever-so-popular Duster. Using his formula, Gerard Detourbet was well prepared for cracking the code for Renault India that has given the Kwid a successful 5-year run. Now in 2020, the Kwid has gotten its midlife makeover. With updated styling, interior design and features, it promises to be a more complete automobile. So without further ado, let’s jump straight in and find out what’s what.
Jacked-up hatchbacks with SUV-inspired design elements have a tendency to fascinate most buyers. Plans to offer this package to customers in an A-segment hatchback was how the Kwid was conceived. For 2020, the new Kwid has received little to no styling tweaks in its side and rear profile, however, it is the front that is largely revised to help you differentiate the Kwid facelift from the car it replaces.
At the front, the most evident change is the placement of the headlight assembly. The units have now moved further down from where they were previously placed. You now find them tucked in neatly to the bumper, in place of where you found the fog lamp units in the outgoing Kwid. At the top, filling the void left by the missing headlamp units are a pair of bright strip of DRLs accompanied by the turn indicators. The DRL assembly merges seamlessly with the grille to keep the essence of the original Kwid design alive. With this shift, the bumper also received a few changes of its own. It is now re-profiled to house the headlamps and a few extra faux air vents can now be found positioned below them. However, the car gets an all-black lip on the lowest-most part of the bumper and its design mimics that of a scuff plate. It also works as an air-dam to supply cool air to the radiator. Looking more keenly you’ll the grille has also been revised but with lesser chrome detailing this time. There is a slim chrome-plated strip that runs across the grille to merge with the sleek DRLs on either end. The honeycomb design on the grille remains intact but isn’t as bold as the previous design.
Moving further back, the bonnet design remains unchanged and so does most of the side profile. Renault designers have only changed the finish of the ORVM caps for a two-tone appearance, the design of the wheel caps and graphics on the plastic cladding over the doors. The wheel caps are now a 5-spoke design in comparison to the older car’s 3-spoke finish. The top-of-the-line Climber variants, however, get an option of multi-spoke alloy wheels. Apart from these minor details, the overall design remains untouched.
The rear fascia of the Kwid was always a sight for sore eyes and that design remains intact in this new iteration as well. The minor changes here include a new glow pattern for the tail lamps which now get LEDs for the stop lamp, while turn indicators and reverse lamps make do with halogen bulbs instead. Other changes that the Kwid gets with this facelift are reflectors integrated into the rear bumper. The pronounced crease on its boot lid in conjunction with the LED-taillamps this time has brought along a fresher appeal.
Renault has put in more effort on the styling at the front, while it seems the rear and the sides were treated more like step-children with this facelift. Thus, from the sides and rear, the Kwid does feel a tad aged.
Budget hatchbacks are designed to be driven in and around the city, with highway use being more of an after-though . Keep this in mind because I’ll come back to this point later. Just like the host of changes to the Kwid's front-end design, the interior is significantly revised. To start with, the steering wheel gets all-new design. While it may resemble the old one slightly, the design is now even more contemporary looking. It is nice to hold with horn pads right in your reach and well-placed thumb contours for an easy 10-and-2 position. It is a flat-bottom unit and is quite sporty to look at as well. Behind the steering wheel is the instrument console, which now is a fully-digital unit. Part sharing from the Triber is evident here and also borrow cues from the Duster. The centre console is also new with revised placing for the power window switches and HVAC controls. In the centre of the dashboard now sits a larger touchscreen unit. The unit now measures 8-inches as compared to 7-inches in the outgoing Kwid. However, the number of speakers remain the same, with just two mounted on each door pad. What sets this infotainment system apart from the competition is the reverse parking camera, which the S-Presso misses out on.
The design of the dashboard on the passenger’s side has been redesigned as well. The glove box on top of the dash is now gone, replaced by big, bold lettering that spells 'KWID', lest you forget which car you got into. While the glovebox on the top is no more, the glove box found below is enormous by all means for a car of this size. It can easily store a half-face helmet without any hesitation. Along with this, the Kwid gets other storage spaces inside the cabin. The door bin on the front doors are large and can hold a 1-litre water bottle. There are cubby holes in the centre stack too. However, moving towards the rear bench, there are no door bins or cubbyholes to be found here.
While the new Kwid does have a lot going for it, plastic quality doesn't. Panels all around the cabin are hard and scratchy, albeit with upmarket fit and finish levels. Enhancing the ambience further is its upholstery. With red accents on seats and contrast stitching, the seats on the Kwid liven up the overall dark interior of the car.
Talking about the seats, we cannot explain just how comfortable they are. With adequate support from the side bolstering, the seats on the facelifted Kwid are ideal for pottering around cities. While cost-effectiveness may have sacrificed on cushioning, expecting premium-sedan-like comfort from them would not be justified. For the price you pay, the Kwid offers ample space and support to all its passengers.
How many passengers, you ask? The Kwid can accommodate 4 of them with ease, including the driver. Any more than that would be a tight squeeze. With that said though, the Kwid still proves itself to be a well-engineered combination of space and design. But what does the Kwid miss out on? A few essentials. Our RXt variant had non-adjustable IRVMs which it didn't offer any day/night function.
On the whole, the new Kwid now gets a better in style and appeal, just with the updates in design and equipment. Space is more than adequate, yet it is still less compared to what its key rivals offer.
The Renaut Kwid was offered with two different engine options for the customers to choose from. One displaces 799 cubic centimetres and the second displaces 999 cubic centimetres. The rated output of the 799cc engine is 54PS and 72Nm, while the latter produces 68PS and 91Nm. Renault sent over its 1.0-litre unit for our test-drive review and us being the performance-hungry souls that we are, happily accepted.
Cranking the engine up, brought the 3-cylinder mill to life with a throaty hum and expected vibrations. While the engine did feel adequately powerful, it was the engine refinement and erratic power and torque delivery that were its weak point. Around the low rpm range, the car has a lot of grunt to pull itself along at a peppy rate. However, there is a large gap between how the the engine climbs revs and the car builds speed. Step on the throttle in a hurried manner and all your rewarded with is a louder whine from the motor and higher vibration through the steering wheel Instead, it is around the 3000 rpm mark on the tacho, that the engine actually starts to build momentum and numbers on your speedometer increase at a faster pace. With an uneven power curve, the car does not particularly excite you, yet it can easily do triple-digit speeds and hold them all day long. That said, cruising around 90kmph is what it does best and does so with ease. Helping it potter along such speeds with flair is also the well-tuned suspension.
The suspension setup comprises of basic McPherson struts on the front and twist beams with coil overs at the rear. Nothing fancy but these components help the car with the right amount of travel, progression, damping and adequate rebound. The Kwid can tackle the worst of the bumps and potholes with an assuring thud thanks to this mechanicals. Throwing it around the corners though is the scary bit, as the car likes to roll quite a bit thanks to the softly-sprung setup. Although, sticking to a lane and cruising in a straight line is a job it does better done than its competition.
The steering wheel is lovely to hold, as we mentioned earlier and that also inspires some sort of cornering confidence. However, being light, what it does best is allow the car to be very easy to use around the city. Making manoeuvres in a tight parking place or in slow-speed traffic conditions is easy, as the steering is feather-light. Albeit, it doesn’t gain any weight whatsoever, with the gain in speed. Thus, resulting in twitchy and unnerving driving dynamics.
The chassis is the strongest point of the Kwid’s driving behaviour. Coupled with a light steering, adequately powerful engine, soft suspension setup and perfectly tuned gearbox, the Kwid’s chassis makes the car a sprightly performer. Also, benefitting it are the 14-inch wheels, which are large enough to save on some rolling resistance.
Renault has worked hard on giving the Kwid a new and distinctive face, with most of the effort going into sprucing up the design up-front. The sides and rear could’ve been reworked too in order to give them the same oomph factor as the front. However, we expect this to happen soon in the future. Also, a better-weighted steering geometry would make the potent chassis and supple suspension of the Kwid feel like a charm when driven in a hurried fashion. However, a starting price of INR 2.84 Lakh (ex-showroom) gives the Kwid a lot of room for use to glance over these minor niggles. Summing it up, the Renault Kwid is a car that wins the budget hatchback segment’s beauty pageant and fulfils all other criteria half-heartedly. A jack of all trades and master of looks is how it can be best described.