Renault Kiger arrives in SA to replace Sandero
The new Renault Kiger that’s been launched in SA takes on the task of bridging a gap, replacing the Sandero Stepway, which for many years was the crossover point into larger Renault territory.
It’s a stylish-looking compact SUV that blends the familiar V-shape grilles and letterbox-design headlights of the Kwid and Triber with short overhangs and a sloping roof.
Based on the same scalable platform shared with the seven-seat Renault Triber, and group cousin Nissan Magnite, it has a 205mm ground clearance, which, however, doesn’t elevate it to genuine off-road status, even if it sits only 5mm lower off the ground than its rugged Renault Duster cousin. The front-wheel-drive Kiger is more of an urban crossover that’s capable of forming dust clouds on dirt roads.
It looks funky, especially when painted in bright colours such as Caspian Blue and Radiant Red. There are also Cool White, Planet Grey, Moonlight Grey and Mahogany Brown paint options, but the range-topping variants get two-tone body colour.
Customers will find a vast difference in the interior set-ups from the Kwid. The Kiger is roomier, with a commanding driver’s seat position and 2,500mm-long wheelbase that feels like it can easily accommodate a family of four to five with ease on 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and a 405l boot.
The arrival of the Kiger also marks the introduction of new grade names: Life (base spec), Zen (mid-spec) and Intens (high-grade.) I tested the Life specification at the car launch, and even this basic version has a modern dash with a 20.3cm floating touchscreen that becomes an extension of your smartphone wirelessly through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The instrument binnacle is a colourful and digital layout, while the main display screen can also have a built-in MP4 video player and runs a new auditorium 3D sound system by Arkamys. A hands-free smart access card allows for keyless door locking/unlocking and engine start.
Further conveniences include automatic air conditioning, ambient lighting, voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity that can pair up to five devices, and a fast-charging USB socket.
The Kiger also comes with a reinforced body structure, ABS brakes, stability control, Isofix child seat anchors and four airbags among its safety features.
The seven-model Kiger range is available in two engine guises and a trio of transmission alternatives. It’s a naturally aspirated 1.0l three-cylinder engine with outputs of 52kW and 96Nm for the Life and entry-level Zen models.
The second-tier Zen model is equipped with the same engine but mated to an automated manual transmission (AMT). It allows drive either in fully automatic or sequential mode. The third Zen model gets a turbocharged 1.0l heart with 74kW and 160Nm linked with a manual gearbox.
Higher ranking Kiger Intens models are fitted exclusively with the turbo motor and a manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and fuel consumption rated at 5l/100km.
Intens models include a reverse camera with guiding lines and three driving modes: Normal, Eco and Sport. These modes also change the appearance of the TFT screen, with green for Eco and red for Sport.
My first drive experience with the Kiger was a mixed bag. Renault knows full well that the thousands of Kwid buyers should be ready to migrate to a larger car and, importantly, these need to be groovy yet practical. The Kiger covers this well.
It’s not, however, the best drive experience. I didn’t get to drive the turbo model, but the normally aspirated 1.0l is underpowered and requires deft work on its good manual transmission to keep it in the power band, especially on steep inclines.
The engine has an audibly coarse note that constantly drones into the cabin at all times. This can become tiresome for others, but the behaviour of the Kiger on roads and its overall damping is acceptable.
All Renault Kiger models come standard with a five-year/150,000km mechanical warranty and three-year/30,000km service plans for models fitted with the normally aspirated engine, and a two-year/45,000km for turbo models.
Kiger Life 1.0l — R199,900
Kiger Zen 1.0l — R214,900
Kiger Zen 1.0l AMT — R224,900
Kiger Zen 1.0l Turbo — R269,900
Kiger Intens 1.0l Turbo CVT — R289,900
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