The Renault Kwid’s success story in India is a case study of how a multinational wiggled its way into the budget end of the Indian market that’s dominated by local giant, Maruti. The winning formula involving competitive pricing, SUV-inspired styling, great ride quality, plenty of space and low running costs is what made the Kwid click. And yes, there’s that much-coveted touchscreen too. But the Kwid hasn’t been all perfect. Its biggest weakness has been the 799cc engine which, to put it plainly, has been a ‘work-in-progress’ from the day it was launched. While performance is at best decent and on par with the competition, noise levels and inconsistent power delivery were major issues. So, the larger (and more sorted) 1.0-litre engine hasn’t come a day too soon. And, the automatic option too promises to seriously transform the way the Kwid drives.
This is instantly obvious the moment you fire up the engine. It’s smoother and quieter than before and, although the uneasy idle typical of most three-cylinder units is present, vibrations are perceptibly lower than before. The larger 999cc engine seems to be better balanced but it’s the redesigned timing chain that Renault quietly slipped into the engines of the Kwid some months ago that has added a bit of refinement. In fact, there has been a stream of constant refinements and updates since the car was launched.
The 1.0-litre engine puts out 68hp at 5,500rpm, which is a significant 26 percent increase over the Kwid 0.8’s modest 54hp. Torque too has gone up by an identical 26 percent to 91Nm. Although, negating the increased power benefit to a small extent is the substantial 40kg increase in weight. However, this extra weight is not due to the larger engine (which uses the same lightweight block as before), but the reinforcements in the body structure for crash safety and a pre-tensioning front seatbelt system. From a dismal rating of zero stars in the Global NCAP tests, the Kwid’s crash protection has been upgraded to 1 star. This may still not be respectable, but it’s important to know that this rating has made the Kwid the safest car in its class. Incidentally, the Kwid 0.8 too gets the same beefed-up body structure and a similar weight gain.
Thus, the performance difference is dramatic. At 13.85sec, the 1.0L Kwid is over 3sec faster in its sprint from 0-100kph. Rolling from 20 -80kph in third gear is also quicker at 12.34sec, against the 800cc’s 17.13sec. And these figures are of the lighter Kwid we first tested.
More important than the performance figures is the way the more powerful Kwid now drives. Gone are the flat spots and hesitant power delivery that plagued the 0.8-litre Kwid, and instead, what you get is an engine that feels much more responsive, smoother and effortless. Yes, there is still a bit of that on-off jerkiness seen in cars with an aggressive fuel cut-off when you back off the throttle (for better economy); but you experience this only in first gear at crawling speeds. Get the revs up and the drivability improves, and the good thing is that the extra torque results in fewer gearshifts – you can pull from low revs without needing to downshift. The 1.0-litre Kwid uses the same gearbox as the 800cc variant and requires little effort to operate.
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Issue: 212 | Autocar India: April 2017
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