Renault KWID Climber
What is it?
The original heavily muscled Renault KWID concept was wild, like a Hot Wheels toy come to life. Reality suggested the car become more like a car, less like a toy. The production KWID features more muted styling. It combines small car dimensions (Bangladeshi readers think Toyota Starlet, but bigger) with the ride height of a small crossover SUV. The front bumper even sports a faux skid plate on the bottom edge, highlighted in gunmetal grey and orange. It's a budget segment car aimed at young people getting their first brand new ride.
Design in and out
Sharp lines and bold, large lights give it an impression of being larger than it is. It has buff wheel arches covering very skinny tires. Much like a bodybuilder who has been avoiding leg days. 155/80 R13 seems unbelievably skinny, but you need them to help maintain a good fuel economy. Inside the city, fat tires really do not go beyond looking good while gobbling fuel.
What's' under the hood?
It has a 999cc engine squeezing out 67 HP and an evenly matched 67 lb-ft torque. This is coupled to an automatic manual transmission (AMT) which is basically the five-speed manual transmission controlled by a computer, without the need of your left foot on a third pedal. This is different from our traditional automatic transmission in how it operates. First, there is no 'creep' forward as you let go of the brake while stopped. The Kwid stays put while in drive. Secondly, the gearshifts are not as smooth as a traditional AT, with the first two upshifts often feeling sluggish, as the computer decides to hydraulically activate the clutch and engage the next gear. Beyond that, it picks up speed smoothly and downshifts are barely noticeable. It has a rotary dial for a drive selector—featuring reverse, neutral and drive. That represents the simplicity of the car which is further accentuated by the utility of having only the equipment you really need.
We took on the ramps in our office while loading up the car with the heaviest people we could find. Fully loaded, the car manages to smoothly take on our steep ramps with the AC on. But because of the tiny engine, you need to treat it like a manual (which it kind of is). To prevent stalling, the car goes into neutral and rolls back till you either press the accelerator or the brake. I suggest getting used to pulling the handbrake on slopes.
How does it ride?
It's spartan on the inside. There is a lot of black and grey hard plastic all around. There is plenty of orange stitching and door accents to liven up the drab interior, just by a few degrees.The feature list is rather quirky with the front windows being powered and the rear being manually cranked. This reflects the Indian market, where the car is often bought by young people who drive themselves. We are a lazy bunch making use of an overabundance of chauffeurs.
The view out the window is excellent with a commanding ride height over other cars. Buses are not as intimidating when you are sitting higher even in a smaller car. We love our powered features but the KWID only offers side mirrors that can be adjusted using your oily fingers. But the mirrors are big and offer excellent visibility.
I especially like the front seats. They have rather pronounced bolster supports that hug your back and feel snugly comfortable. The suspension manages to soak up small bumps easily enough, without the car bouncing along. It settles quickly while taking on speed breakers. But road surface unevenness means I have to constantly adjust the steering to stay straight. The skinny small tires easily follow the chaotic grooves in what we like to call roads.
Tricks and gadgets
It has a neat touchscreen display that is quick to connect to Bluetooth devices. A reverse camera is a welcome feature because the rear window is really small. The dash is a digital layout in orange, in keeping with the colour highlights inside and out.
I like how it looks despite being a bit of a pretender. This is by no means an off-roader, even though the styling apes that of the bigger Duster. The ride height is a boon in the city, allowing you to see over and ahead at road conditions further down. It makes for quite the ideal transportation when you want to manoeuvre between loose buses, stampeding motorcycles and headphone-wearing jaywalkers.
Spoiled as we are by choice, it would have been preferable to have powered rear windows and mirror adjustment. The AC does a great job though, and the mileage is reported to be in the 12-15 kmpl range according to most forum members who use the KWID. We'll do a longer test in the coming month.
For now, the KWID offers a mix of utilitarian convenience with a mixed bag assortment of creature comforts to create an unusual yet interesting city car.
Engine: 1.0 litre 3-cylinder petrol (67 HP, 67 lb-ft)
Transmission: 5 speed AMT, FWD.
Safety: Driver's airbag.
Features: Front power windows, 13-inch alloy wheels, fabric seats, rear arm-rest, dual-tone interior and exterior, roof-rails, digital instrument cluster, touch-screen infotainment system, AM/FM/USB/Aux/Bluetooth.
Price: Starting from TK 14,50,000.
For details, contact Karnaphuli Motors Ltd.
Photos: Rahin Sadman Islam