It is no secret how the local (and possibly international) motoring media feel about the likes of the Renault Kwid and the Datsun GO. I am one who refused to review the previous Datsun GO when it first launched due to the fact that it did not offer ABS or even an airbag. I find this unacceptable. Thankfully, the manufacturers heard the outrage and so have added a few safety features to these budget buys. But are they worth considering? I attended the launch of the updated Renault Kwid to find out.
PUTTING IT IN CONTEXT
Here’s the absolute truth, I would never recommend the Renault Kwid to anyone…EXCEPT if I was speaking to the intended target market of this car. Which is a first time buyer who would otherwise have to utilise public transport. When you consider that around 3.9 million South Africans use public transport, it is easy to see why Renault would want to bring this car to market.
WHAT MAKES IT WORTHY?
Let’s look at it from the point of view of someone who otherwise would have to wake up long before the birds have even started chirping, walk a distance most of us would have to train months for, wait in long queues in the freezing cold, and hope like hell the train/taxi/bus arrives somewhere close to the planned time, you can understand why owning a Renault Kwid would be worth it.
WHAT IS NEW ON THIS RENAULT KWID?
The new look of the Kwid is the most obvious change. It has a new “SUV-inspired” look which Renault feels makes it look far more robust and muscular. I don’t hate the look of it. It now sports larger 14-inch wheels and Renault is proud of its first-in-class ground clearance which stands at 180 mm. It has SUV-styled headlamps with silver streak LED DRL’s, and tail lamps with LED light guides.
Inside sees new fabric and materials. It also sports a new steering wheel, a new centre fascia and meter cluster with sportier graphics…which I must say looks pretty cool. Look, the interior looks and feels like a budget car. The seats are not comfortable, especially in the rear, but they do look good. Especially with the new colours in the material.
WHERE IT SHINES
No one can deny just how much is on offer in this entry-level car. The Renault Kwid comes standard with (take a deep breath and the exhale); electric windows, airconditioning, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, ABS, EBD, as well as driver and passenger airbags. If you opt for the Dynamique or Climber trim levels (the Expression is the entry of entry levels), you will get a fast charge USB port, reversing camera, a new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 12V power point for rear passengers, rear electric windows, and electrically adjustable side mirrors. This list makes it sound as if I am describing a far more premium car, right?!
THE DRIVE IS…
Renault claims that the new rear axle adds to the safety of the vehicle by improving its road holding. I couldn’t feel much of a difference between the outgoing Kwid and this one. But then again I did drive the previous one a while back so maybe the difference is there. It retains the same naturally aspirated 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with outputs of 50 kW and 91 Nm. Look, it goes without saying that this engine needs to be worked really hard to get anything out of it. There were a few almost stalls at the robots and the sewing machine soundtrack is quite prominent.
But again, when I was driving in the traffic and the heat that Joburg so often likes to showcase, I kept putting myself in the shoes of someone who would no longer reliant on the unreliable and dangerous public transport this country offers. I cannot pretend to understand the hardship, I can only imagine how freeing owning a car must be.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
Renault even comes standard with a one year comprehensive insurance cover, a two year service plan, and a five-year/150 000 km mechanical warranty and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty. It is no wonder the Renault Kwid has sold like it has (an average of 770 per month – putting it in fourth position overall in passenger cars sold in SA), when it comes with most of the features we all desire in a car but is still affordable.
Look, I don’t love the idea that money somehow buys safety. I hate that there isn’t more equality in this country. And I don’t like that big conglomerates are making money off of those who have no other choice but to buy something most of us wouldn’t dare to even recommend. BUT, here is the other side of that coin. The alternative is more dangerous than the Renault Kwid. This car offers that person so much more than just a car. It offers safety, freedom and time!
RENAULT KWID PRICING
- Renault KWID Expression 1.0-litre SCe R 144 900
- Renault KWID Expression AMT 1.0-litre SCe R 154 900
- Renault KWID Dynamique 1.0-litre SCe R 154 900
- Renault KWID Dynamique AMT 1.0-litre SCe R 164 900
- Renault KWID CLIMBER 1.0-litre SCe R 164 900
- Renault KWID CLIMBER AMT 1.0-litre SCe R 174 900