The new Renault's KWID on the block

Renault is renowned for making seriously good, safe cars. But, they haven’t managed to break into the entry level car market. That was until now. Let’s see how they managed this with the all new Kwid.

Last week I had the privilege of being invited to the Renault Paarden Eiland launch of the new arrivals of the Renault Kwid, fresh off the truck, quite literally.

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I was able to be the first person to peel the plastic covers off the dash and the seats (As you can see in the picture below). The radio still needed its security code punched in, so we never got to try out all the snazzy features of the MediaNav which comes with the Dynamique model at R129 900 or R2199pm, which cost R10K more than the standard Expression model at R119 900 or R1999pm, worth the little extra, for a whole lot more features.  Even the Dymanique model comes in cheaper than most of the competitors in the entry level car market, which is surprising coming from Renault, so how did they manage this?

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The entry level Expression comes in Ice Cool White, with optional extra metallic paint with colours Moonlight Silver, Fiery Red and Planet Grey. But, you’re probably better off going for the Dymanique model which come standard with the metallic paint. The standard Kwid Expression model comes with a built-in radio with FM/AM tuner, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands free calls. It also has USB and AUX inputs, which is a lot for a standard radio. It also comes standard with Air conditioning, power steering, electric front windows, immobiliser and driver air bag. The dash has a digital instrument cluster, but no rev counter, although it has the needed gear shift indicator telling you when to change gears. Both models only come in a manual 5 speed gearbox, an automatic optional extra would have been a nice touch I might add. Perhaps with the next generation model?

With the extras in the Dynamique you get front fog lights, silver/metallic grey side mirrors, dual tone dashboard, on-board multi trip computer with average fuel consumption per 100 litres, average speed, distance to tank refill, expected tank range according to current consumption. You also get the 7” (18cm) multimedia touchscreen MediaNav with built-in Navigation with SA maps and all the media features of the standard radio with Bluetooth hands free, USB and AUX inputs.

Now for the fun part, the test drive. This is where it all comes together, to see if the car manages to pull off all these lovely features and still drive well on the road? Well… parking is a breeze that’s for sure, with the 3.3 steering wheel turns from full right lock to full left lock and feather light electric power assisted steering you’ll never have to worry about getting in and out of tight spots in narrow streets or around town. The drive around town is beautiful; aircon works well and the seats are reasonably comfortable considering the lack of lumbar support. Hitting the freeway is where the quality of the ride starts to dissipate. As the car is very light weighing in at only 693Kg  without the driver, you certainly feel this on the freeway, its blows around in the wind, doesn’t handle great at highway speeds with no dynamic steering, the feather light power steering is very twitchy and jittery at higher speeds and while cornering there is a lot of body roll with the car height being close to that of a small SUV. Still, cruising at 120km/h is manageable quite comfortably, it just requires a fair amount of concentration from the driver to keep the car steady. All in all, not bad for such an affordable car and with some luggage and a few mates in the back, you’ll be happy to take it on holiday for short trips as the fuel economy is the reason why you’d buy it in the first place, especially with today’s petrol prices and the economy.

 

It’s very hard to be able to get a good balance between ride comfort, safety and luxury with such a small price tag attached, in fact Renault had to compromise on a lot of the traditional safety features they put in all their other cars as standard in order to keep the price down. This leaves the Kwid with only a single driver side airbag, no anti-lock braking System (ABS), no Electronic Stability Control (ESC) program or traction control and not a lot of chassis reinforcement or passenger and side curtain airbags. This is why the Global NCAP (New Car Assessment program) only rated the new version of the Kwid that comes standard with driver side airbag with a single star for driver safety which is the model that has been released in SA. This being better than the previous model that was first released in India with no driver airbags that was not awarded any star ratings from the NCAP tests. Renault SA have said they will look into offering additional ABS features in later models. According to the September 2016 AA vehicle safety report (Click here to read more) on entry level cars below the R150 000 region in the market, 6 other competitor cars in this price bracket have zero star safety ratings with no airbags.

I read an article from the Times live (Read article here) which referenced the AA report as follows:

“The AA said that in some cases‚ vehicles are fitted with features which might be regarded as ‘convenience’ or ‘luxury’‚ even though the vehicles offered low levels of safety equipment. ‘We are hopeful that this report will inform the public and persuade motor manufacturers to prioritise safety in vehicles produced for the South African market‚’ the report said. The AA called on the motor manufacturers to consider substituting luxury or convenience specification items with safety items. ‘We believe this consideration must be weighed against the inexperience of the typical drivers of these vehicles‚ and the need to protect them against traffic hazards to the greatest extent possible.’ ”

There’s a lot of truth to be learned from the AA report and the fact that the majority of entry level cars do not cater for the fact that we are more than likely buying these cars for our children or they are buying these cars themselves as first time car owners and are usually very inexperienced drivers on dangerous roads in South Africa with a lot of people driving around unlicensed.

That being said however, the Renault Kwid is aimed at first time car owners and this is where price is weighed more heavily than safety features. In fact thinking back to the first car I ever bought, I couldn’t have cared less about whether it had airbags or ABS braking. I was more concerned about whether or not I had a car to get around, go to the beach, pick up my mates and go out for the weekend. Having air-conditioning  featured higher up on my list of priorities when looking to buy my first car.

Renault South Africa have thrown in something to sweeten the deal as well, a 1 year full comprehensive insurance through Zurich, with a R2500 Basic excess and 20 days car hire. This for some people, especially first time buyers would normally cost more than the monthly instalment on the car for the first year, so it’s a very attractive offer.

To top that off, they now have a standard 5 year / 150 000km warranty on their new vehicles for mechanical peace of mind. Optional Service / maintenance plans are also available. 24 Hour roadside assistance also comes standard for the first 5 years on all new Renault vehicles.

This brings me back to my question of how Renault managed to make such an affordable entry level car; well the answer is simple… Make a car that matches the current competitor’s safety levels, while blowing the competition out of the water with the luxury features. Quite simply put, people want more, so Renault appealed to people’s want to drive a stylish car with nice features over their want for a safer ride.

Both models come with the following engine specs:

Engine

Fuel Unleaded
Emission Control Standard Euro 6
Engine Type Indirect injection
Capacity (cc) 999
Number of cylinders/valves 3/12
Max. power (kW) 50
Max. power rating (rpm) 5,500
Peak torque (Nm) 91
Peak torque rating (rpm) 4,250
Catalytic converter Standard

Gearbox

Type Manual
Number of Gears 5

Brakes and Suspension

Front Disks (Diameter mm) Disc
Rear Disks (Diameter mm) Drum
Front Disks (Diameter mm) Mac Pherson strut
with lower transverse link
Rear Disks (Diameter mm) Twist beam suspension with coil spring

Steering

Type Electric power-assisted steering
Number of turns lock to lock 3.3

Wheels and Tyres

Wheel and tyre size 13″ 155/80 R13

Performance

Top speed (km/h) 152

Consumption and Emissions*

Urban cycle (L/100 km) 5.9
Extra Urban cycle (L/100 km) 4.1
Combined cycle (L/100 km) 4.7
Emissions CO2 mixed cycle (g/km) 112
Fuel tank capacity (L) 28
Tank range (based on combined cycle of 4.7L/100 km): 595 Km

Weight (KG)

Tare weight (excluding driver) 693
Gross vehicle mass (GVM) 1105
Gross front axle mass 545
Gross rear axle mass 560
Gross combined mass (GCM) 1105

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