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Well, this is aw-Kwid: SA wrestler Shaun Koen in Renault's latest hatch

2017-01-20 08:08

BIG AW-KWIDNESS: Calvin Fisher takes his buddy SA wrestling champ, Shaun Koen, for a drive.>Image: YouTube

Calvin Fisher

Cape town - Calvin Fisher takes the seven foot tall All-Africa Heavyweight wrestling champion, Shaun Koen, for a drive in the cheap-as-chips Renault Kwid.

There's a car review somewhere in there too, we promise.

Meet the 2017 Renault Kwid. This one's the top model, the Dynamique with a 1.0 litre engine good for 50kW and 91Nm. 

'Incredibly good deal'

Yours for a mere R129 000 and on the face of it, that sounds like an incredibly good deal. Your money buys you a contemporary design, an aggressive stance (until you take in those weedy 13" steel wheels) and a general perception of polish about it.

Clamber aboard and again you'll wonder how they have managed to do all of this, at this price point. You get a touchscreen multimedia interface, good ergonomics, air conditioning and several other mod-cons. You also get an airbag in the steering wheel and that's it. No ABS. And a sub-par safety rating as a result. This is a car developed for markets like India, hence its discount price tag. But instead of condemning it, I took it for a ride with my dear friend Shaun Koen; also known as the 'Lion of Africa'.

He's about 2.1-metres tall and about as wide. In fact, he's the All Africa Heavyweight title holder. I'm not tiny by any definition either, so this little drive would test all sorts of facets of the Kwid. For example, that curb weight of 695kg. Well, with even modest calculation we've pushed that well beyond the one ton mark, yet would you believe that the performance, handling and general demeanour of the car was largely unhindered?

In fact, I wish they were that planted from factory. Jokes aside, the topic of safety did come up, as did the question, "who is the Kwid for?".

READ: Renault's budget Kwid - A unique approach to ‘entry-level' car

Originally I thought it might hold appeal as a poor man's Jeep Renegade. Or perhaps a tiny man's Jeep Renegade? But in fact it's cutesy aesthetic really speaks to the young female buyer - that's based on feedback from my close network of females - my girlfriend, mom, Shaun's wife... them.

Remember that incredibly light curb weight? Combine that with a car with this much ride height and skinny 155 wide tyres and you've got yourself a car that bounds clumsily around the corners, and if the wind catches you, I hope you're ready for some surprise lane changes! Small tyres also mean if you're not labouring from the line you're squealing off like a stuck pig. Moderate driving is the order of the day here, and indeed it should be in a car this vulnerable.

READ: SA's top-selling cars - Vivo loses top spot, new Kwid makes its mark

I like the Kwid, but left to my own devices I'd pick a two year old Sandero over it each time. If, however, you've made up your mind, then Shaun and I want to add this caveat. If your daily commute involves 20km of highway driving give it a miss. But if you're a suburban roamer with 5km between the office and your home, then by all means. If nothing else it minimises your interaction with life-threatening trucks and taxis. And that's important.

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