Renault has introduced its new Kwid AMT alongside the current Expression and Dynamique manual models to continue offering affordable mobility in the entry-level segment.
What’s it like?
The Kwid’s design is SUV-inspired and even though it’s a small hatchback, it boasts a ground clearance of 180mm compared to competitors like the Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL AMT at 165mm and the Kia Picanto 1.2 Start AT at 151mm.
The new Kwid comes with Easy-R Technology and without a gear lever. That's right, it's instead equipped with a five-speed dash-mounted AMT dial with three modes - reverse, neutral, and drive.
This gives the driver a clutch-free driving experience - almost like an automatic car, but not exactly. Gear shifting via the dial is electro-mechanically timed and it I found it helps if you ease off the gas to allow for the next gear to be selected a bit more smoothly. This takes some practice, however.
What about engine and safety stuff?
The compact 1.0- litre three-cylinder smart control efficiency (SCe) engine pushes out peak power of 50kW at 5,500 rpm and maximum torque of 91Nm at 4,250 rpm.
Renault is open about the fact that the Kwid doesn’t have ABS or a passenger airbag. However, customers clearly don’t seem to mind as they continue buying it, clearly happy with the price tag as well as the current level of safety. Perhaps it’s because a big chunk of the Kwid customers is fairly young working people who often drive alone? Also, it seems carpooling haven’t really taken off that much in South Africa and there are more often than not only one person in a car. Why would you want to pay so much extra for a passenger airbag if you never have passengers in your car? The manufacturer says it may bring out a version with the safety specifications that are currently lacking in the second half of 2019.
Renault offers 24-hour roadside assistance for those who may find themselves in an unfortunate scenario, stranded next to the road.
For the petite yet bold hatchback that it is, the Kwid offers quite impressive boot space at 500 litres - the same as some upper segment vehicles.
An extremely fuel efficient petrol powered engine, Renault claims the manual delivers 4.7 litres/100km and the new AMT transmission 4.4 litres/100km.
The Kwid also features a MediaNav navigation/multimedia system complete with a large 7" (18cm) touchscreen display with Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free telephony, built in navigation, USB and AUX-input ports.
How many bucks?
The 1.0-litre SCe Dynamique AMT is R10,000 more expensive than the manual version and costs R146,900. The price includes one year's comprehensive insurance cover as well as a five-year/150,000km mechanical warranty and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.
The Kwid's AMT system is definitely one to get used to - especially if you’ve driven an automatic before. One needs to adapt one's driving style to get the smoothest drive possible.
It is, however, funky, affordable, cleverly designed with some good ground clearance, and extremely fuel efficient. It’s a good option for first-time buyers, but if I were you, I’d take both the AMT and an Expression or Dynamique manual for a test drive before making a decision.