NEW RENAULT KWID:'The new car deal of this year, which won’t have banks breathing down your neck, might be the just-launched, funky Renault Kwid,' writes Melinda Ferguson. Image: Wheels24 / Sergio Davids
1.0 Expression SCe: R119 900
1.0 Dynamique SCe: R129 900
Looking at the latest figures, it appears that new cars are harder to sell in South Africa right now than green cards to the newly Trumped US.
Figures released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA in October show new vehicle sales have declined by 10.1% to 48 745 units, compared with 54 239 vehicles sold in October 2015.
As the money-sucking festive season approaches, cash-strapped South Africans will be looking high and low for a good deal. Roll in the new budget-friendly Renault Kwid, with the looks of a cute crossover and a price tag to celebrate.
Over the latest decade, car-buying South Africans have become a nation in love with sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and crossover utility vehicles (CUVs). The crossover segment – basically a refined SUV – is the fastest-growing vehicle segment, both internationally and locally.
A few weeks ago I took a trip to a heat-waved Durban to test what Renault is describing as a “hot new SUV-inspired hatch set to make waves in the entry segment”.
On paper the Kwid looked worryingly frail, emitting just 59kw power and 91Nm of torque from her 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine. But on the drive out of Durbs I soon learnt not to judge a car on pure numbers.
Weighing in at just 700kg, her reduced weight gives the Kwid an impressive power-to-weight ratio. Instead of being sluggish, as I’d feared, there was a surprising amount of action under the bonnet on our drive. However, out on the open roads, travelling at the national speed limit with strong winds to contend with, her light weight forced a bit of extra driver focus to comfortably stay within our lane.
In urban settings the Kwid felt a lot more at home, especially with her impressive power-assisted steering wheel, which made turning tight corners and parking a pleasure. That’s not to say the Kwid won’t fare well on challenging surfaces.
Although Renault’s latest baby is not a pure crossover, she’s got some pretty decent ground clearance of 180mm. In terms of looks the Kwid is chunky and solid, and on the drive to Mtunzini, where the road surfaces were pretty shocking in places, the Kwid’s high-profile tyres soaked up the bumps and potholes like a real pro.
Inside, the Kwid impresses with space for five. Plus, she’s capable of holding a decent amount of luggage in the boot with her class-leading 300-litre load capacity. What really stands out is the refinement in the cabin and unexpected tech on offer, usually seen in higher-segment vehicles. There’s a nifty seven-inch touch screen infotainment/sat nav system imported straight from the Duster, which includes Bluetooth, USB, AUX and MP3 playback.
The main concern in the Kwid is on the safety front with the omission of ABS, plus there’s just one driver’s air bag.
My best advice is: If you’re looking for an urban ride, want a new car, have a limited budget and you don’t have aspirations of being the next speed-busting Lewis Hamilton, then the Kwid’s a no-brainer. Her fuel consumption, at just 4.7 litres/100km, will outdo most in the class.
The cherry on top is a year’s free insurance offered by Renault to sweeten the deal.
Datsun Go 1.2 Lux: R123 900, uses 5.2 litres/100km (driver-side air bags on certain models, no ABS)
Kia Picanto 1.0 LS: R129 900, uses 4.9 litres/100km (driver air bag, no ABS)
Hyundai i10 1.1 Motion: R137 900, uses 4.8 litres/100km (driver air bag,