Kwid gets a midlife upgrade
Updated looks and enhancements for Renault’s strong-selling budget car range
There’s no change in dimensions as it’s a facelift rather an all-new car, but with more than 20 aspects of refinement from the old car. The important ones are a fairly sensibly laid out dash with a new digital cluster, a new steering wheel, a MediaNav multi-media system running through a larger 20.32cm touchscreen display and a few more items. Bluetooth, Apple Carplay and Android Auto are available in the higher models, while ABS brakes and a pair of airbags are standard across the range.
The car has many storage nooks for loose oddments and drinks holders and the cubby is one of the biggest I’ve seen in any car. But one annoyance in the top-range Climber that I drove are the powered window buttons which aren’t on the expected location on the doors but planted on the main dash area alongside many other buttons.
Tall adults will find the Kwid suitably roomy as there’s enough head, leg and shoulder room. According to Renault, the boot capacity has marginally decreased to 279l from the 300l of the old car due to a newly designed rear axle.
Rear visibility is also good and the Kwid’s relatively square shape helps with ease of parking. Top models also get a rear parking camera and sensors.
Only one engine is offered: a gruff sounding 1.0l, 3-cylinder which can be paired to either a five-speed manual or five-speed automated manual gearbox.
With 50kW and 91Nm available, performance is what I’d call a little underwhelming but suitable for the application. You need to rev the engine and stoke that transmission to keep the revs high for a clean and speedy get away from traffic lights or to reach highway speeds.
Once you venture out of town and onto highways, it sails sufficiently on steep descents but needs well-timed down-changes to maintain some momentum on inclines. It brakes better too, thanks to ABS with EBD but put simply, it’s nowhere near as lively or a refined drive as some rivals in its market.
The Kwid’s ride is mediocre, more than bad on potholed urban roads. The suspension doesn’t absorb fissures well enough. The steering feel is light enough for ease of quick U-turns and parking in tight spots.
A beefed-up rear axle and larger wheel size have boosted sturdiness on the move because things felt a lot better on the highways. It isn’t easily unsettled by lane-changes at speed. It’s a decent enough drive that may need you to crank up the audio volume to drown out the slightly lowered but still audible three-cylinder engine thrum, rushing wind and road roar.
As with the majority of its peers, the new Kwid has a noble task of providing transportation for first time buyers, budget seekers and perhaps even empty-nesters. Some failings of the old car have been ironed out and some of its better traits, have been retained.
Renault openly admits that it expects no change in its crash ratings of one-star, but it’s gone and fitted a safety-belt warning bong, just in case. Despite this disappointment, the company remains confident the Kwid is still exactly the car that SA buyers need. It looks better, has jacked up spec, and best of all for would-be buyers, overall it’s only four-grand cheaper than the outgoing model.
Renault Kwid Expression 1.0l Sce — R144,900
Renault Kwid Expression AMT 1.0l Sce — R154,900
Renault Kwid Dynamique 1.0l Sce — R154,900
Renault Kwid Dynamique AMT 1.0l Sce — R164,900
Renault Kwid Climber 1.0l Sce — R164,900
Renault Kwid Climber AMT 1.0l Sce — R174,900
The new Kwid range is available with 1-Year Comprehensive Insurance Cover, a 2-Year Service Plan, and a 5-year/150,000km mechanical warranty and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty. Services take place at 15,000km.