Renault has made massive strides in the local context. Compared to those early days after the brand’s reintroduction to South Africa, sales have increased several times over. The brand seems to constantly expand its SUV portfolio (with models such as the Koleos we drove earlier this year) and the addition of affordable models, such as the Renault Kwid ABS that we drove for a few days, are just some of the reasons for its increased market share. We were most interested to find out how this latest version stacked up against the AMT derivative we drove a few months ago.
The Kwid is one of the most affordable vehicles available in South Africa (prices start at R134 900). Renaults SA says that over 20 000 units have been sold locally since its introduction three years ago. This could explain why we noted quite a few while driving the metallic red test unit for a week. For first-time buyers and novice drivers the Kwid offers good value for money, especially if you want to buy a new vehicle, rather than second hand.
Included in the standard car’s feature list is remote central locking, air-conditioning, and a new colour touchscreen infotainment display with Bluetooth connectivity and USB/aux ports, and Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility, as well as electric windows for the front occupants. Since it already has the central locking, perhaps Renault could have added an auto-locking feature for our safety conscious SA market. A buzzer for the when one inadvertently leaves the headlamps on would also be a handy addition.
Compact dimensions mean that the Renault Kwid ABS is quite easy to live with in the urban grind. It is narrow and short, which means it fits into tiny spaces, as we found out on various occasions during our review period. It is easy to park, especially considering that it has power steering and a short rear overhang. The 180 mm of ground clearance is also a plus when you have to climb onto a kerb.
The power steering is advantageous, though it doesn’t have a strong self-centring action. So of you take a tight corner and aren’t quick to unwind the wheel, you find the car continues to steer in the initial direction. It’s something you learn to live with, but it can really catch you out the first time. Ride quality errs on being firm rather soft, though it never dissolves into being crashy. Perhaps the Kwid rides a tad better with a few bodies on-board
All Kwid models are powered by a three-cylinder engine. When we first experienced the Kwid automatic last year, we were not impressed with the transmission, at all. Thankfully this manual option is far better, and it is definitely the one to choose if you face the option.
A mechanical feeling five-speed manual transmission works well in unison with the small engine. It may not be very fast, as it isn’t supposed to, but with the manual gearbox, you can fully exploit the power on tap. The naturally aspirated unit is no firecracker but short ratios make the best of the power delivery.
Safety systems are generally not, or shouldn’t be, put to the test. Cape Town experienced some much-needed rain during our review period, and we had cause to activate the ABS system. A dozy Capetonian driver (as many are – Ed) changed lanes without so much as looking in their mirror and we had to stop in a hurry from over 50 km/h. Were it not for the ABS we’d have easily slid into the rear of that German saloon on the greasy road.
Our last experience with the Kwid left us quite unimpressed. That version presented a problem that was simply not possible to overlook. This Renault Kwid ABS is a much better option, and the recent addition of ABS and the upgraded infotainment system make it appealing if you are shopping at this end of the new car market.
Price: R144 900
Engine: 1,0-litre, inline three
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power: 50 kW
Torque: 91 N.m
Top speed: 152 km/h
0-100 km/h: n/a
Fuel consumption: 4,7 L/100 km
All models come with a 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty and a two-year service plan.