Small hatchbacks ought to be practical, frugal, and most importantly cheap to buy. Not a lot of manufacturers focus on making the product desirable. But after closely following what the Indian customer wanted, Renault outdid itself and most rivals by launching the Kwid. The SUV-like styling for a car that’s easy on the pocket (both to buy and run) seemed like a win for everyone. Soon enough the interested prospective buyers flocked to dealerships, and since then Renault India hasn’t looked back.
The first impression has to be lasting, and the Kwid is all about that. Through the generous use of plastic cladding on the outside and a stance that’s more like that of a crossover than a little hatchback, the Kwid is an easy attention grabber. The company fitted wheels are understandably on the small side, but even with those, the Kwid looks good. With numerous special editions, Renault has proven that people are still very much interested in the Kwid. And there’s no reason, as far as looks are concerned, why they shouldn’t be.
While it wouldn’t be wrong to call the Kwid’s interior basic, but what else would one expect at this price point! To that effect, it has some decent features, like a digital speedometer, a touchscreen navigation system, a charging port even at the rear, and quite some space inside. It also boasts a rear-seat armrest and 300 litres of boot space. The AMT-equipped version does away with the conventional gear stick and instead has a rotary dial on the centre console. The list of positives soon ends for the Kwid, as it’s currently one of the most unsafe cars on the market. That’s not too different from most of its rivals, but considering Renault sells a safe one in markets like Brazil but not in India, that’s far from ideal. You can opt for an optional driver airbag, but it’s anyone’s guess if that ups the safety quotient majorly.
There are two engine choices available on the Kwid: an 800 cc unit that makes 54 PS and a larger 1-litre unit that makes 68 PS. The latter makes more sense even if you’re new to driving, as it makes the car more drivable and even with the full load, doesn’t bog down too much. There’s a 5-speed gearbox available with both the engines, although you can opt for AMT on the larger 1-litre-engined version. The gearbox might be devoid of tech wizardry you find on more sophisticated units, but it does the job well. And owing to its working principle, it doesn’t prove to be too expensive to run, either.
Prices for the Kwid start at Rs 2.66 lakh for the base 800 cc model and Rs 4.04 lakh for the 1-litre-engined version. It must be noted that the latter is only available in the top-spec RXT trim, so for the increased price tag you don’t just get a larger engine, it essentially has all the features that Renault has for the Kwid.
In terms of competition, the alternatives are more conventional but similarly unsafe. There’s the Alto 800 and K10, Datsun’s redi-GO which shares its platform with the Kwid, Hyundai EON, and Tata Tiago. You’ll need to stretch your budget a bit for the Tiago, but it’s not only safer but also offers a much larger engine, and is a well-rounded product.