Despite heavy criticism due to its lack of safety equipment, suspect body rigidity and languid handling, the entry-level Renault Kwid has become the French manufacturer’s best-selling model locally since it was launched here at the end of 2016.
The small crossover now contributes around 40% of the total sales for the diamond brand and more than 27 700 have found owners up until now. Now, following soon after the facelift of the Datsun Go, the Kwid has also been revamped – and now is an even more attractive value proposition.
Why? Well, the overhauled Kwid now looks better and offers improved safety, higher quality interior trim, a higher equipment level and enhanced handling – all at a reasonable price. In short, with great enhancements and additional features, the Indian-built car now presents an even more compelling offer.
These features, some unheard of in its segment, include an 8-inch touchscreen MediaNav with Bluetooth, USB, AUX and MP3 playback, now with a reverse camera and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. However, this is only available in the Dynamique and Climber models.
It also includes power windows front and rear, electrically adjustable door mirrors, air-conditioning and remote central locking, while safety has been improved across the range with the addition of dual front airbags and ABS brakes, and a seat belt reminder.
A major distinction between the Kwid and its competitors is its SUV-inspired look. Aesthetically, the facelifted version borrows heavily from the Brazilian-built version and it also incorporate elements of the Chinese-built City K-ZE, giving it a sense of robustness when viewed from the front. The revised headlamps with silver streak LED daylight running lights adds to this.
However, the rear, now with tail lamps with LED light guides, still looks a bit bland in comparison. New, larger 14-inch wheels with quite stylish wheel covers also enhances its looks and give the latest Kwid a class-leading 180 mm ground clearance and a sturdier stance. A bold Zanskar Blue colour, available for the Dynamique and Climber models, also adds to its stand-out factor.
Inside, new chrome finishes give the Kwid a more premium feel, and the new upholstery fabrics are a great improvement compared to the materials used in the previous model. A sporty new steering wheel enhances the quality feel while the new centre fascia and meter cluster give it a more pronounced ambiance.
The front seats are generously sized for better comfort but elbow, leg and headroom are still restricted, and limited seat travel will make it difficult for a tall person to find a comfortable driving position.
The passenger glove box, driver and passenger in-door storage space with 1-litre bottle holder and rear parcel tray allow for practical and convenient stowage, totalling 27-litres.
According to Renault the Kwid has enough space to comfortably seat five adults, yet the rear is quite cramped and will get uncomfortable on long trips. Boot space, at 297-litres, is still class-leading but it is now less than in the previous model, due to the stowage of the bigger, 14-inch spare wheel.
On the road
The compact 1-litre 3-cylinder Smart Control efficiency (SCe) engine powering the Kwid models delivers 50kW at 5 500rpm and maximum torque of 91Nm at 4 250rpm and is now paired with a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed AMT gearbox with rotating dial control.
The petrol-driven engine is fuel-efficient, and according to Renault it delivers 4.7-litres/100km when paired with the manual transmission, and a class-leading 4.4-litres/100km with the AMT transmission. At the launch only manual derivatives, all with top-model Climber specification, were available, so we cannot give you any insight into the performance of the AMT model.
The short test route through Jozi took us from Gold Reef City to Randburg, and from there to Monte Casino in Sandton, and the sturdier, more composed feel of the car, thanks to a new rear axle and some other suspension tweaks, was immediately apparent.
In the city traffic, some clutch modulation and higher engine revs was necessary when pulling away, as the small engine otherwise tended to bog down. The bigger wheels contributed to better road-holding, especially on turn-in, and overall the new version felt more composed and planted than its wayward precursor.
All this bodes well for sales, further enhanced by pricing starting from only R144 900 for the entry-level Expression up to R174 900 for the Kwid Climber AMT, inclusive of a 5-year/150 000km warranty, a 2-year service plan, one year of comprehensive insurance and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty.
So, with its more appealing design and enhanced array of equipment, the latest Kwid certainly presents a striking offering in the entry-level passenger car market, and in terms of sales it will probably start where the previous model left off...
And should it prove popular, perhaps Renault could start considering bringing the most affordable electric vehicles to the country, as the full-electric Renault City K-ZE, a joint venture product with Dongfeng based on the Kwid, as well as the Venucia e30, a badge engineered City K-ZE, is already available in China.
Just a thought…