The French carmaker’s ambitious attempt at tackling the low-price, high volume base of the market that’s dominated by Maruti.
Published on Sep 10, 2015 12:57:00 PM
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The Kwid uses an all-new, all-aluminium, three-cylinder petrol engine. Its capacity is 799cc, power is 53.26bhp and torque is 7.34kgm, but the statistic you really want to know is 25.12kpl – an ARAI rated fuel economy figure that makes it the most efficient petrol car in the country. That figure remains to be tested in the real world, so for now, let’s see what it’s like to drive.
Fire it up and you will get a fair bit of vibration and clatter that lingers at idle, but soon fades away as you start to rev it. Snick the positive-feeling gear lever into first and try to set off, however, and you’ll notice it feels very jerky and hesitant. Many will feel the need to feed in some throttle and slip the clutch, in fact. Get past this and progress becomes a lot smoother, and you’ll soon notice the engine has a good amount of pep. The max torque may be produced at 4,386rpm, but you get 80 percent of it from as low as 1,200rpm. However, it’s best to use the accelerator gently and smoothly with this engine, as it doesn’t respond well to hasty inputs. Punch down hard and it will stutter and fumble, and the resultant acceleration is not smooth at all. In fact, power delivery overall can be a bit inconsistent, with noticeable ‘gaps’ in progress. Speaking of which, there’s also a big gap between second and third gears. Refinement is not great either, but rather than a three-cylinder clatter as you might expect, the bigger noise is an ever-present mechanical whine in the cabin. Push on and power suddenly drops off and gives way to noise after a certain point. Still, we feel the performance is more than adequate by the 800cc segment standards.
Ride quality is really impressive though, in true Renault fashion. Despite its tall ride height, the suspension has been really well calibrated to offer minimum body roll and movement over bumps; it feels really nicely held together for a budget car, in fact. Even at the rear seat, passengers aren’t tossed around too much over rough roads. Thanks to the superb setup, the car goes through corners very tidily as well. However, it’s spoiled by the steering which is quite lifeless and doesn’t return to centre freely. It’s light, which will be a boon in the city, but it’s also very slow, requiring many turns, lock to lock, so three-point turns aren’t as easy as you might think. That’s a shame, as a good steering setup would have complemented the suspension to make for a really fun car to drive.
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