Kwid has positives despite safety deficiencies
Renault's budget hatch has a sub-par crash rating, yet it is sensible and intelligent in other areas
Trusty old affordability has been the virtue that you would associate with any best seller in SA. Over the past decade or so a part of the requirements that fuelled the market also included fashionable style and colourful novelty.
These are exactly the qualities that continue to sell the Renault Kwid, one of the class’s current favourites despite legitimate foibles.
Now in its second generation, it’s the Kwid Climber on test which gets its styling tweaked to reflect more as an SUV rather than a budget hatch. The range looks funkier and unlike any of the other conformists in the segment such as its Datsun Go cousin, the Peugeot 108 and the Hyundai Atos.
Despite being a small and narrow car, Renault has made sure the Kwid has plenty of room inside. That’s 2,422mm of wheelbase and a 279l boot which turns to 620l with the seats folded. It isn’t segment leading but spacious enough to fit much of what a nuclear family can throw at it.
The Kwid excels in living it up in city conditions. Visibility is great all round and there is no need for the rear parking sensor and cameras available on this higher trim because it’s a dinky thing that’s easy to park.
The Kwid Climber test car featured a grey and orange seat theme, air conditioning, electric windows upfront and a 20.3cm colour touchscreen. The infotainment system it uses has many apps but I suspect smartphone-savvy owners may want to have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto added to allow the on-hand voice-commanded assistant to dial contact numbers, read out messages and navigation instructions and play music to them while driving.
The Kwid’s three-cylinder makes a meagre 50kW and 91Nm and what it lays down on the road is best described as tepid. It’s an unrefined motor that grinds along and the ride also suffers on rough surfaces. But if you hurry somewhere on more flowing, smoother roads the Kwid is surprisingly plucky and engaging.
The steering is light and not precise, and it’s noticeably unstable but get tuned into the driving, gearing down early on its five-speed transmission before hitting steep inclines and it can be good fun.
Regardless of which trim level you go for, the second-generation Kwid remains a big drawcard for its low starting price. How cheap? Well, it’s among the first five cheapest new cars you can buy in SA and it gets sub-par materials, a wheezy engine, ABS and EBD equipped brakes, two airbags but just a single star rating for crashworthiness in the Euro NCAP crash testing programme.
In a nutshell, building a small budget car is one thing, and not striving for the best protection such as a more stable shell would have been understandable had there been no safer or more refined alternatives on sale, of which there are plenty.
It’s only when you look at its low list price and that personal mobility is an essential in the modern age that you understand the demand created by the Kwid. If safety is a priority, then I will understand if you skip it.
Renault Kwid Climber
WE LIKE: Looks, price, smartphone integration
WE DISLIKE: Ride quality, lack of power, poor crash safety
VERDICT: If you prefer style over safety
Motor News star rating
Design * * * * *
Performance * *
Economy * * * *
Ride/handling * *
Value For Money * * * *
Overall * * *
Datsun Go 1.2 Lux 50kW/104Nm — R173,600
Hyundai Atos 1.1 Motion, 50kW/99Nm — R159,900
Peugeot 1.0 Active, 53kW/93Nm — R184,900
Mahindra KUV NXT 1.2 K2 #Dare, 61kW/115Nm — R155,999
Kia Picanto 1.0 Start, 49kW/95Nm — R167,995
Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL, 50kW/90Nm — R162,900
Type: Five-speed manual
Type: Front-wheel drive
Top speed: 152km/h
Fuel Consumption: 4.7l/100km (as claimed) 5.1l/100km (as tested)
ABS, two airbags, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, power steering, remote central locking, Aux input, USB port, LED lights, front fog lights, cloth upholstery, air conditioning, rear park distance control, alloy wheels.
Cost of ownership
Warranty: Five years/150,000km
Service Plan: No
Lease*: R3,598 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit