The convenience of a small hatchback, and Renault’s Kwid AMT has been among the more prevalent budget options. While this ‘new’ 2018 version isn’t all new, the little updates that it carries are significant enough to warrant a quick drive.
There wasn’t much wrong with the old Kwid AMT, but the 2018 version borders on being a better all-rounder with a more sophisticated AMT gearbox and more equipment as standard, all for the same price as the old car. Here’s what we think of it.
Starting off with the exterior, design updates on the 2018 Kwid can be best described as subtle. Upfront, the AMT and RXT(O) variants get a slightly different chrome finished grille and that’s about it. As for the rest of the line-up, the mid-level RXL and RXT come with body coloured bumpers, wheel covers and front fog lamps as standard. All in all, the Kwid retains its high-riding stance and chunky wheel well. What also adds to this car’s strong road presence are the SUV-like elements, be it the heavy plastic cladding or the utilitarian looking bits like the wing mirrors and the door handles.
Think of the interior updates as an attempt by Renault to polish off all the tiny rough edges. In other words, they are not extensive. That said, the brand has added quite a few noteworthy features across the variants that we totally approve of. For starters, all variants now come with emergency locking retractor (ELR) for the rear seatbelts. It allows the belt to freely extend and retract with occupant movement, yet locks the belt instantly in the event of a crash. Secondly, the AMT and RXT(O) variants also get a 12 volt charging socket and more importantly, a rear parking camera with display integrated into the existing touchscreen system. Meanwhile, the mid-level RXL now gets front power windows and remote central locking as standard.
The dash design and layout of materials has been carried over from the old car which is not a bad thing at all. Sure, you are seated in a sea of black and grey plastics but the thing is, most of the controls are hardwearing and feel solid to operate. I wish I could say the same for the air vents and the boot/fuel release which feel quite low rent. Thankfully, this AMT variant gets contrasting red inserts for the seat backrests and piano finish for the centre console which do their bit in lifting up the overall ambience.
Seat comfort up front is impressive for a car of this size, with adequate bolstering and back support. Overall you wouldn’t feel as helmed in as you would sitting in a Maruti Alto K10 or the Datsun redi-GO. Thanks to the class-leading 2422mm of wheelbase, even the nearly flat rear bench is comfortable with good amount of leg room and thigh support. However, it’s only comfortable for two adults – adding a third occupant in the rear in this narrow cabin is best avoided.
Under the hood lies the same engine and gearbox combo as you will find in the 1-litre manual Kwid – a three-cylinder, 999cc motor developing 67bhp and 91Nm of torque. The only difference here is that a set of hydraulic actuators and sensors engage and disengage the clutch and shift cogs on the 5-speed gearbox for you. Now although the power and torque figures won’t raise any eyebrow, the Kwid is a featherweight so there isn’t much heft to haul. Nonetheless, it’s quiet and refined around town, however, every time you pull away from standstill you will hear that typical three-cylinder thrum as you pick up pace. Unlike the 800cc motor which has a jerky power delivery with some flat spots around the mid-range, the 1-litre Kwid is relatively smooth with the way it delivers power.
The biggest addition on the 2018 Kwid AMT, without a doubt, is the much-needed creep function that moves the car forward ever so lightly when you take your foot off the brake – a neat feature when driving in heavy traffic. What’s more, it makes hill starts little easier as you no longer need to step on the throttle frantically to avoid rolling back. As for the all-important shift quality, the gearshifts aren’t exactly seamless but the trademark rocking motion linked to AMTs is noticeably less in the Kwid compared to the Alto K10 AMT. Sure, there is still that typical judder when you get off the line or drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but the jerkiness smoothens out as you up the pace.
Despite its lack of grunt or a manual override, the Kwid feels comfortable on the highway as well. The featherweight Renault, in fact, has no trouble hitting triple digit speeds – it took 16.5 seconds to complete the 0-100kmph sprint and 8.8 and 12.4 seconds for the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph in gear respectively.
In terms of handling, the Kwid retains its light steering feel (good for puttering around town) but there is more body roll than what’s expected and the steering itself is devoid of feel. However, when it comes to tackling bad roads, the little Renault is hard to fault. The long travel suspension that otherwise makes the Kwid lean into the corners allows it to maintain composure over pothole-riddled roads. Sure, the ride quality is slightly bouncy under full load, it is still impressive overall and like the Duster, the Kwid tackles bad roads with relative ease, especially for a car of this size.
So, is the 2018 Kwid AMT a great buy? Certainly. It’s worth a look if you are after a small, easy to drive automatic hatchback that has a touch of flair about it. All in all, with these updates, it’s an almost flawless city runabout – the steering is light, the AMT is relatively smooth, all-round visibility is excellent and there is enough space for a small family. More importantly, with the creep function and a rear-view camera, it’s also easy to drive and park and that’s all you really want from a car like this.