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Review: Renault Kwid

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Small cars sell. Maruti alone sells more than 30,000 small cars every month. India is the biggest market in the world for this segment. The Maruti Alto has, so far, been the unchallenged master. In over a decade of it being on sale, no other car has been able to steal its thunder.

This, the Renault Kwid, is possibly the Alto's worst nightmare. A car that'll give Maruti's little wonder a real run for its money.

The first impression when you get inside the Kwid is that you don't feel this is an entry-level compact car. It feels like a much bigger car. The plastics feel all right. Not great, but better than what you'd expect at this price. It's got features that no other car in the segment offers - a multimedia system with satnav, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, front power windows, on-board trip computer, and a gear shift indicator.

Space is unlike anything we've seen in this segment. The front seats are pretty comfortable, and at the rear, there's ample leg space, too. The rear seats lack under-thigh support, though. The boot, at 300 litres, is the biggest amongst all small cars. In fact, it's even bigger than the i20's. There are plenty of cubbyholes - you get two glove boxes, big door pockets and enough space in the centre console.

See more pictures of the Renault Kwid

Under the hood is a brand-new engine developed specially for the Kwid. It's a three-pot unit that displaces 799cc. Power output is 53bhp, and torque is rated at 72Nm. But, despite the numbers seeming low on paper, there's adequate power. Power delivery is linear, and short gearing on the five-speeder makes things sweeter while driving in the city. Throws on the gear are short, and shift quality is decently smooth.

The Kwid rides well. Renault has taken into account horrible Indian road conditions and set up the car rather well. Potholes are tackled with ease and bumps are filtered out well, unless they're really deep ones. The rear suspension is softly-sprung. The downside of the soft suspension and high ground clearance of 180mm is the body roll. There's plenty of it, more than what you'd expect from a car this size.

The steering is ultra-light. That helps manoeuvre it through tight city spaces and while parking, but when you're doing highway speeds, you need to keep correcting it constantly. It gets a bit tiring. That said, at higher speeds, the Kwid feels much more stable than the Alto.

The Kwid is a nice-looking thing. The SUV-inspired design and overall styling makes you want it more than the Alto or the Eon. Sharp creases on the hood give it a muscular look. The cladding along the sides and around the back reinforces that appearance.

Renault will go extremely aggressive on the pricing. For all the SUV-like styling, all the features and a new engine and platform, the car you see here, in its top spec, will cost Rs 3.53 lakh. And, if you opt for the base variant, it'll be yours for just Rs 2.57 lakh (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi). That's great value for your buck.

It's certainly the biggest threat there ever has been to the Alto. And, the Kwid delivers what it promises. The only thing that we think the Kwid could do with is ABS on the top-end, and the brakes can do with a bit more bite. But overall, it's brilliant; a real bargain.

The numbers
799cc, 3cyl, petrol, 53bhp, 72Nm, 5M, LxWxH: 3679x1579x1471, Ground clearance: 180mm, wheelbase: 2242mm, boot capacity: 300 litres, weight: 660kg, claimed fuel efficiency: 25.17kpl, Price: Rs 2.57 - 3.53 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

The verdict

The best in its segment. High ground clearance, responsive engine and spacious cabin make it an excellent package.

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