Renault is going through tough times in India. The well priced Lodgy MPV has failed to enthuse the buyer and tellingly, the French automaker has gone back to its ‘one trick pony’ status. Apart from the Duster, which was launched way back in 2012, Renault has failed to produce a hit car in India. The stockpile at the Oragadam factory is building up considering that even the Duster is under big pressure from the Hyundai Creta. The French automaker is said to be thinking of a major downsizing effort. As many as 3,000 jobs at Oragadam may be cut, but there’s a sliver of hope though. Enter the Kwid.
If the Kwid wins and wins big, jobs will be saved. Real people who put together the cars you and me drive will be able to put bread on the table. Renault’s export thrust with the Kwid is another way in which production at Oragadam can be kept steady, saving jobs and the company’s India prospects in the process. Seldom has a new budget hatchback wearing a non-Maruti and non-Hyundai badge generated so much interest. There are many reasons why the Kwid is turning out to be one of the most exciting budget hatchbacks in recent times. We take a look at four of them.
Exclusive live images of the Kwid
It’s all about the looks
Make no mistake. The Kwid looks like a mini SUV and the designers at Renault have pulled off a coup of sorts with the design of this small car. When the Duster arrived in 2012, its looks were a big draw and the vehicle kickstarted the compact SUV segment in India. Similarly, the Kwid has the potential to upturn the budget hatchback territory and make well designed, butch looking cars more popular.
Renault hasn’t come out in the open and announced prices of the Kwid. We’ll have to wait for the launch for that. However, there have been enough indications that the prices of the Kwid will start from under 3 lakh rupees. Now, that’s bang in Alto-Eon territory. Why wouldn’t a buyer be enthused by a small car that looks more SUV than a hatchback? This is precisely what Renault would be betting on.
The India we live in is a long way from having tarmac like say a Singapore or Malaysia. Roads pockmarked with potholes, ill designed parking ramps and speed breakers, and no-road conditions, form the daily driving conditions of most Indians. In such circumstances, high ground clearance is a godsend. And the Kwid has 180 mm of ground clearance. Pot holes? No problem? Sky high speed breakers? No problem. No roads? No problem.
Engine choices and AMT
The Kwid will initially be sold with an 800cc, triple cylinder petrol motor and a 5 speed manual gearbox. For those seeking a budget car mainly for the city, the 800cc engined Kwid will be more than sufficient. And an automated manual transmission is in the works too. For highway commutes, a stronger engine would be desirable, and Renault will oblige. A 1 liter, triple cylinder petrol engine is also in the works for the Kwid. Now, why not a small capacity diesel, Renault?
But putting out a good product into the market, at an attractive price point is only half the job done. The Kwid too has a fair share of challenges ahead of it.
Images courtesy AutocarIndia
Renault is no Maruti Suzuki or Hyundai when it comes to having dealerships in every nook and cranny of the country. If the French car maker wants to reach enough potential buyers of the Kwid, many of who reside in rural and semi-urban India, the dealership reach needs to be ratcheted up. The sooner Renault does it, the better it will be for the Kwid.
After sales quality
Reports about Renault’s after sales service is less than glowing. Many Duster owners are dissatisfied with the kind of service rendered to their steeds. This is a critical area that budget makers need to get right if they want to succeed in India. Selling more Kwids and not having good service to support isn’t the brightest thing to do. Many car brands have gone down this road, burning fingers in the process.