The keys to the second Kwid in our long-term fleet have been handed over to the small car loyalist of the team – me. This Outback Bronze example replaces the fiery red Kwid we said goodbye to a few weeks ago. Of course, it’s not just the colour that distinguishes the Kwids old and new, but also what’s under the bonnet. This is the Kwid 1.0 with the larger 999cc engine. While they do share some similarities from the outside, the largish ‘1.0’ badge and chequered decals on the door tell the world: ‘I’ve made a move up’. However, I think these distinguishing details are a bit overdone and tacky; a subtle ‘1.0’ badge on the fender or on the boot lid would’ve been a classier touch. The Kwid 1.0 also gets silver mirror caps which are unique to this model.
Having heard my colleagues – who spent 45 days in the car, covering 20,000km on the Delhi to Paris drive – talk about the impact the larger engine has had on the Kwid, I had a fair idea of what to expect. They were right. It really does feel like the more sorted version of Renault’s blockbuster hatchback. The older Kwid’s 54hp, 800cc engine was just okay. It was whiny and the hesitant low-speed power delivery took away from the experience. The new Kwid’s 68hp, 1.0-litre motor, on the other hand, has changed the car’s character in a positive way. Power delivery is much smoother and the engine is quieter too: quieter being the operative word here. That typical three-cylinder idling noise and vibrations still remain.
More powerful 68hp, 999cc engine a big jump.
What’s instantly noticeable is that this car takes off faster than its 800cc cousin. Our test data show that the more powerful Kwid is around 3sec quicker. However, having driven the Maruti Alto K10 (the one with the 1.0 engine) quite a few times, I would rate its K10 engine higher. Still, the Kwid 1.0 is a huge step up from the 0.8. Thanks to the peppier engine, this Kwid is actually fun to punt around in city traffic. The added performance has also brought in a degree of versatility to the Kwid. I’m more comfortable with the idea of taking this version out of town than I ever was with the Kwid 0.8.
As for the rest of the car, I like how absorbent the suspension is, but I don’t like the steering that feels a bit light at high speeds. The Kwid 1.0 is priced a paltry Rs 24,000 more than the 0.8, but the fact is that this extra money is largely for the engine. My transition from the old Kwid to the new was fairly uneventful as there aren’t any major changes in the cabin. But this means you also get the same cool digital instruments and the all-important touchscreen. The sat-nav works as it should and the maps are mostly accurate; let’s not forget this is the same system offered as standard on the Duster and the Lodgy, both which cost twice as much as the Kwid.
12-inch wheels a tad small; 13-inchers would’ve added to its SUV-like looks.
What this also means is that I still find the control stalks a bit too flimsy, as you often end up switching off the headlight when you toggle the stalk to switch on the right turn indicator. I would also have appreciated a rear wash/wipe function on this more expensive Kwid. Shockingly, it’s not even an option on the top-spec car. Also, there is only a single front wiper being offered on a car that costs almost Rs 5 lakh and that’s not good. If Tata can offer all these features in the similarly priced Tiago, why can’t Renault?
The Kwid 1.0 is still quite new to our fleet, so I’ll have to drive it around for some more time to get an accurate idea of the impact this larger engine has on my running expenses. But, so far, it points to a fuel economy similar to the 0.8 Kwid. In either case, the extra 200cc has enhanced my drive home by a massive margin. As a former Kwid 0.8 user, I will stick my neck out to tell you that the Kwid 1.0 is definitely worth the extra money.