DRIVEN | The new Kiger SUV continues with Renault's budget-friendly formula in SA

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• Renault's new Kiger is now available in South Africa and replaces the popular Sandero.

• Priced from R199 900, the Kiger offers new buyers an opportunity to enter the SUV game.

• The Kiger is built on the Renault-Nissan CMF-A+ platform.

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When it comes to affordable motoring, few can do it quite as well as Renault. The French automaker has managed to get it just right by getting first-time bums into seats. Remember the first Duster? That SUV became an instant hit with thousands of units finding homes across South Africa.

In 2016, the Kwid made its debut as the most affordable car in the country and continuously counts among the best-selling vehicles in SA. South African consumers gravitated towards the little hatchback because it didn't cost an arm and a leg. Despite the negatives associated with a car at the bottom end of the sales spectrum, the car was - and is - a raving success. In 2020, the Triber came to market as the most affordable seven-seater in South Africa, speaking to families looking for a practical vehicle.

Renault's story continues in 2021 with the local introduction of the new Kiger: a new sub-compact SUV offering first-time buyers the chance to get into the SUV game. This new model also replaces the popular Sandero in Renault's portfolio.

Where does the Kiger fit in?

Suppose you've been keeping tabs on the automotive industry the last few years. In that case, you'll know that Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi have allied, with plenty of part sharing going on. Part of this includes the CMF-A and CMF-A+ platforms that underpin several vehicles.

In terms of the CMF-A+, vehicles like the Triber and Nissan Magnite are built on it. The platform underpinning low-cost B-segment or subcompact vehicles is the ideal architecture for the Kiger to ride on. The affordability of this platform means that Renault and Nissan can enter the market at more affordable prices than some of their rivals, allowing many first-time buyers the opportunity to realise their dreams and goals of owning a brand-new vehicle.

The affordable CMF-A+ platform and the alliance have meant that Renault could bring the Kiger to the local market at very competitive prices. With it now the new entry-point to Renault's SUV portfolio, the Kiger is aggressively priced from R199 900 for the Life 1.0 model to R289 900 for the Intens 1.0 Turbo CVT. In addition, Renault South Africa also used the opportunity to introduce a new naming convention to its model range, that being Life, Zen, and Intens.

For the full model line-up, including engines, specifications, and pricing, click here.

Renault Kiger
2021 Renault Kiger

Simplistic interior

The Kiger is not endowed with an interior that will win any awards, but it's straightforward and clear as to what is expected of it. In the top-spec Intens model we drove at the launch, the driver is treated to steering wheel-mounted controls with which you can control media sources and audio volume. Ahead of the driver, the TFT display has a clear readout with the necessary information displayed without hassle.

Atop the dashboard sits the centrally mounted multimedia system. This touchscreen colour interface is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible and is easy to navigate through. This screen looks similar to the one fitted in the Kwid and Triber, but it is more user-friendly.

While the controls and dials are in place, the lack of cupholders between the front seats is noticeable. The central armrest offers a deep storage space of 7.5 litres. One should also not expect too much from the Kiger's build quality as the steering rack was exposed behind the pedals, and plastic has been used to great effect throughout the cabin.

Renault Kiger
2021 Renault Kiger

The drive

All engine and gearbox combinations were on offer at the launch, with us opting for the turbocharged 1.0-litre three-engine fitted with the five-speed manual and five-speed CVT (continuously variable transmission). The turbo mill offers 74kW and 160Nm, all of which are sent to the front wheels. Drivers can also switch between three driving modes (Normal, Eco, Sport) using the rotary knob next to the gear lever to alter the vehicle's drivetrain characteristics.

The route allowed for the Kiger's on-road abilities to come to the fore. In Eco, the little SUV offers, expectedly, a more sedated drive. It does not feel as alive as in Sport, and the engine does not chase the redline with the same vigour. Cornering abilities are also not its strongest suit, but it feels justifiably stable on the road when driven to its strengths.

Renault knows, perhaps better than most, that affordability is vital in these trying times. And because not everyone can afford fancy vehicles with all the bells and whistles, they saw a gap that needed addressing. The Kiger continues where the Duster, Kwid, and Triber left off and continues with an approach that made Renault a reckoned contender where tight budgets are concerned.

Renault Kiger
2021 Renault Kiger
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