WHAT HAVE WE GOT HERE... Renault's Kwid is a budget car in own right. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond
Cape Town - Earlier in November 2016, I was a guest on one of RSG’s talk shows, chatting about budget cars and market trends. One of the topics that came up for discussion was Renault’s new budget car; the Kwid.
The talk show host asked me whether or not I think this new French car will be a success for Renault South Africa and my answer was quite straightforward.
I said: “South Africans are very brand conscious and know what they are spending their money on. And even with Renault launching the car at a very competitive R120 000, consumers will remain weary asking ‘why is it so cheap?’”
Upright or uptight?
The Kwid’s design has been called everything from cute, quirky to horrible. It's possible that it's somehow all three. Its available in two derivatives, the Expression and Dynamique, though there's not much in terms of design to differentiate the two. In fact, it takes a very keen-eyed observer to spot the differences.
READ: Renault's new budget-buster - Kwid arrives in SA
The model on test, the Dynamique, retails for R129 900 and is only differentiated from its lesser sibling by fog lights. Both cars ride on unusually small 13” tyres, each one held in place by three wheel nuts. It sits 180mm off the ground, but is only 1.5m high.
The big downside of these dimensions, including the width of 1.6m, translates to the Kwid being a touch unstable in windy conditions.
The south-eastern wind that pesters the Cape, bullied the little hatch and were it not for the fact that I live in the outer suburbs of Cape Town, I'd be wrestling with the car to avoid being toppled.
Its tiny 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine has to work really hard for forward propulsion, especially if the vehicle is laden down with passengers and/or gear. That being said, its 50kW/91Nm motor is sufficient in the city, capable of keeping up with traffic on the highway... though uphills are challenging.
What I’ve come to like about the Kwid is its nimbleness in traffic. Its light, precise steering, small dimensions and low weight all add to produce a highly maneuverable vehicle for weaving through cars. As a driver you know exactly where the furthest point of the nose is positioned thanks to a commanding view of the road ahead.
Nobody likes rush-hour traffic but behind the wheel of a Kwid, you could be weaving your way home that much faster.
Also, the suspension absorbs bumps surprisingly well.
I really like that R-Link
Occupants are not treated to the best interior in the segment and five adults will find it rather difficult getting comfortable in the car. Front passengers have the option of electric windows, but those in the back have to revert to some good ol’ manual labour (read: window winders) if they want some fresh air.
READ: Top-selling vehicles sales in SA - Ranger, Polo lead the way
But the feature-deprived Kwid does come with Renault’s R-Link. The multi-media system is Bluetooth compatible, AUX and USB friendly, plus it has navigation. The touchscreen is both intuitive and user-friendly, but the overall experience is let down by a lack of rear speakers.
Renault’s R-Link could perhaps be the most simplified multi-media system on offer today; it really is that easy to use.
Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond
The Kwid is not Renault’s finest car. Its overall ambiance is let down by a finish that looks and feels cheap. That being said, it's important to note it's a budget car. Renault has to convince SA's motoring public that its new car is a proper alternative to the likes of the Volkswagen Polo Vivo. And that includes using materials that generates a feeling of perceived quality.
However, for beating the budget and being positioned as a possible first new car for consumers, the Kwid is well-priced, but it will take a heck of an effort to eat into the Vivo’s sales success.