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D / IMPRESSIONS

Renault Kwid AMT





26 March 2018


Renault’s Kwid hatchback has been embraced by buyers in the entry-level segment since its launch in late 2016,  with over 10 000 vehicles sold.

The little car took third position as one of South Africa’s 10 best-selling passenger cars of December 2017, with a 1 120 units sold, despite receiving only one star for safety in the Global NCAP test conducted in India in 2016 and it’s no wonder, considering the price.

The entry-level, manual Kwid in the Expression trim retails for R126 900, the slightly fancier Dynamic trim for R136 900 and now Renault has introduced a new automatic model priced at R146 900 (also in Dynamic trim).

All three variants feature the compact 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine, which delivers 50kW at 5 500 rpm and maximum torque of 91Nm at 4 250 rpm. That may not seem very impressive, but considering that the vehicle only weighs 700kg (without a driver), the power-to-weight ratio is 72kW/ton.

Looks and technology
The exterior is quite eye-catching and the interior struck us as basic but neat. The Kwid Dynamic variants, including the AMT that we drove, come with a multi-media system with a first-in-class, seven-inch touchscreen display. It also has functions such as Bluetooth, audio streaming and hands-free telephony, built in navigation, USB and AUX-input ports and speed sensing volume control.

We did try out the technology and found that we could link our phones and stream music with ease. We also made a phone call, but although we could hear her, the person on the other side struggled to hear what we were saying. This could be due to a bad line or the general din in the cabin as we headed down the N1 at 110km/h. The navigation was okay, but it did have a few limiting features and you need to press quite hard on the touchscreen to get it to respond. Still it is an amazing convenience to have audio streaming and the hands-free function as well as navigation on such an entry-level car.

The Drive
The Renault Kwid has a ground clearance of 180mm and perhaps this raised height accounts for the handling not being as slick as you might hope, but it’s certainly fine. As we stated in a previous review of the manual Kwid, “the Kwid handles okay, but it’s obviously no Megane RS Clubsport in the corners.”

The Automatic Manual Transmission (AMT) takes a bit of getting used to. There is no gear lever but rather a rotary dial on the centre console that allows you to select reverse, neutral or drive and as with a regular automatic transmission there is no clutch.  Although the vehicle does change the gears without the need of a clutch, we found it jerky and to prevent this lurching when gearing up, you need to ease your foot off the accelerator a bit. This is counter intuitive to people accustomed to driving and in order to get the best from this car, you need to adjust your driving style.

It was more pleasant to drive the Kwid AMT on the highways and open stretches of road, where gear changes aren’t required as frequently, compared to in town.

What really did impress us was the amount of boot space in this compact machine. It was quite a highlight, if you’ve ever owned or looked into the boots of some of the Kwid’s competitors you would no doubt be impressed.

Safety
Renault will be upping the safety features to include a front passenger airbag and ABS in 2019 models. However, not all new models will carry the safety features, it’s likely that just one or two top variants will.

This decision was taken by the French manufacturer in order to keep the bar to entry into the new vehicle market as low as possible. According to Renault, 60%  of Kwid buyers are first time buyers. The company is proud that this little vehicle has been life-changing for many South Africans who previously relied on our unreliable public transport system to get to work and back. There are also jobs that require you to have your own vehicle and owning a car like the Kwid opens up new job opportunities. Although the vehicle currently only carries a single star for safety, it has passed the safety test, notes the brand – there are vehicles that don’t.

Prices
Renault KWID Expression            1.0-litre SCe           R 126 900
Renault KWID Dynamique           1.0-litre SCe            R 136 900
Renault KWID Dynamique AMT   1.0-litre SCe           R 146 900