Renault KWID is selling well in SA. Here’s why.
Renault’s KWID has arrived and has caused quite a stir. Its lack of ABS and two star NCAP rating might put certain buyers off, but is it all doom and gloom? We drive the KWID for a week and weigh up the pros and cons of SA’s controversial little newcomer.
The interior is sparse, in a good way. No extra knobs or buttons, and for a car in this bracket it does work. The minimalistic approach also makes sure that there’s not much to break or get dirty in this budget bank buster. The model I drove had the touchscreen with satnav, aircon that worked well, Bluetooth and electric windows up front. The electric steering is light, and the gears fall to hand. Visibility out the cabin is great too and, because of the sheer size of the little tike, it has more of a presence than, say, a Chery or Datsun Go. With easy to clean surfaces and a neat and fuss free interior, KWID’s cabin is good, and it’s certainly good enough.
The digital dashboard looks dated and gimmicky, but this comes from someone who owned a Honda S2000 for two years, and even there I wasn’t impressed with the 80s style digital display. After asking some objective opinions, I realised that most thought it was quirky and suited the fun feel of the Renault KWID.
The crossover pretences are obvious. It seats four comfortably and has a reasonable boot at 300 litres, which incidentally was enough to fit my guitar and amp, albeit a little snug.
The sleek lines and bulbous curves gives Renault KWID a purposeful stance, it’s fresh and kind of looks like its pretending to be grown up. I like that. Renault KWID has spunk. The front of the car is almost aggressive with its bonnet bulges and air dam, and that go-anywhere ground clearance gives a sense of purpose. The extra ride height you get from this and its sister car, the Datsun Go+, means newer drivers can misjudge pavements and do the odd kerb hop without much fuss.
How does it drive?
With a kerb weight of just 660kg and pushing out 50kW from its 1.0l 3-cylinder engine, Renault KWID has an impressive power to weight ratio, admirable cornering abilities and sharp handling. The car feels every bit as light as it claims to be, however this is also felt when hitting the highway as Cape Town delivers its inevitable cross winds. Lightweight also means low fuel consumption. I managed just above the claimed 4.7l/100 and it was a constant game to try to beat the manufacturer claims! Be warned though, the dash reads in km/l, a throwback to KWID’s indian roots.
ABS, or anti-lock braking has been a big talking point for Renault KWID, but just to set the record straight: KWID’s braking abilities are stable and effective under most circumstances. ABS is only really used in emergency/panic braking situations, in mostly slippery conditions. A wider set of tyres would be a wise investment. I’ve always said that advanced driver training should be compulsory for first time drivers, so if you are wanting to get this as a first car, you might want to consider going for the training. It could save a life.
Like all 3-cylinders, the engine is understandably lumpy at idle but, once on the move, this all but disappears. With the low weight, the engine feels surprisingly enthusiastic, and getting up to 120km/h is done with willingness and fervour.
With one year’s free insurance and a price tag so low, those who want a brand new car can now finally afford to do so. KWID makes a great case for itself. The premium feel of owning a Renault doesn’t hurt either, as the badge carries more prestige than say a Datsun or Tata. For me it would be a tough choice between this and the smaller R129 000 Kia Picanto 1.0LS, which incidentally, also doesn’t come with ABS, but does have five star NCAP rating.