Renault has a budget offering of sorts with the Sandero but decided to release an even cheaper car, the Indian-built Kwid, which I had a go in recently.
The elephant in the room
Before I start with the specifics of the car, I have to address the rather large pachyderm in the room and that is safety. Renault weren’t secretive about the fact that the Kwid received a one-star Euro NCAP safety rating. The brand also mentioned that both models on offer will feature one airbag and no ABS brakes upfront.
This is rather concerning for me, firstly because there is allegedly a three-star safety-rated Kwid on the way which is far more acceptable and secondly because people simply don’t seem to care and will purchase the vehicle in any case.
Before you consider me a spoilt motoring journalist hear me out. It is difficult for me to recommend a vehicle that many people will be buying/receiving as their first car when I know that in an accident in the car would not provide the necessary protection.
I have heard arguments stating that older used vehicles are also unsafe and that this is what most people can afford. I respect these opinions and only bring up the vehicle’s safety rating so that potential buyers can make an informed decision while sharing my opinion on the topic.
Design inside and out
The Kwid certainly receives some of the brand’s new styling accents, with a large diamond-shaped logo and C-shaped headlights up front while in side profile the small wheels, raised ride height and black bumper cladding give the vehicle a sort of miniature crossover look. At the rear, it looks like a modern city car with rounded tail lamps and attractive surfacing.
Inside is typical of a budget car with hard plastics, basic seats and only the essentials. The Dynamique models certainly look more upmarket with the infotainment system while both models benefit from a good airconditioning system.
Better than budget spec
We know that price in this segment is essential and as you’ll find, the top-spec Kwid is well-specified with a seven-inch MediaNav touchscreen display with Bluetooth, USB, AUX compatibility which is certainly unique within the budget sphere. Both models also get electric windows up front, the aforementioned driver airbag and central locking. This is basic motoring, and at the price, you can’t really expect much more.
Practicality and driving impression
The Kwid is certainly not going to munch up the luggage but for a small car I feel that a 300 litre boot is commendable. The car also features 180mm of ground clearance and tiny 155-section 13-inch tyres which makes the vehicle okay for low speed driving over our rather bumpy roads.
However, the fun stops when you hit the freeway and exceed 100 km/h. The car begins to feel unsettled, especially over undulations and in windy conditions while the steering remains very vague.
I would like to feel that I am fairly experienced in terms of driving and I simply did not feel comfortable at speed in the Kwid. I am sure larger tyres and perhaps a slight drop in ride height will remedy these issues.
Under the hood
The Kwid is powered by a naturally aspirated 999cc motor mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The small motor produces 50kW/91Nm and will consume a claimed 4.7 litres/100km.
The consumption that my driving partner and I achieved at the launch was higher than the claim which meant limited driving range from the 28 litre fuel tank. Our test drive took place in Durban, where the Kwid felt adequate in terms of power, but I feel that at altitude, this car may feel sluggish with the associated power loss.
Service plan and warranty
The Kwid models do not come with a service plan but will have a five-year/150 000km mechanical warranty while the brand has offered a year’s worth of comprehensive insurance with the purchase of one of these vehicles.
Kwid Expression - R119 900
Kwid Dynamique - R129 900