When Renault launched the Kwid hatchback back in 2015, it truly became a game-changing product for the French carmaker in India. The car boasted of a bold SUV-like design, smart styling, and a host of segment-first features that made the Kwid an instant hit. In fact, courtesy of the Kwid, Renault India's monthly sales were at an all-time high for almost a year. However, like all popular models, the Kwid too slowly started to lose its charm after a while. The carmaker tried to improve its numbers with the launch of a few special edition models like the Kwid 'Live For More Reloaded' edition or the 'Superhero' edition, but none of them proved to offer any long-lasting solution. With the car's sales consistently dropping in the last several months, Renault finally decided to take the big step. So, behold! the 2018 Renault Kwid facelift. Yes! After almost three years, Renault has finally given the Kwid a much-deserved update and we got to spend a day with the top-end AMT variant of the car.
The 2018 Renault Kwid might not appear all that different from the pre-facelift model, however, a closer look at the car reveals a bunch of cosmetic updates that add a bit of freshness to the entry-level hatchback. Among the notable exterior changes, the 2018 Kwid comes with an updated grille, and this top-of-the-line RXT variant that we drove, featured bold chrome elements which Renault has termed as 'Razor Edged Chrome' grille. However, the rest of the bits like the C-shaped halogen headlamps, muscular front bumper, and the round fog lamps remain unchanged.
As we move towards the side, you'll notice that Renault has done away with the signature chequered flag decals featuring the '1.0' lettering which used to signify its 1-litre engine. Instead, the car now comes with new 'speedsport' Kwid-branded graphics on both sides, which is a bit subtle and stylish and in my opinion, makes the car look much better. Adding a bit of contrast here are the sliver outside rear view mirrors (ORVMs) and twin-3-spoke silver wheel cover. Renault also offers a new Moonlight Silver body colour option, which alone comes with glossy black mirrors and black wheel covers, unlike the others which get silver treatment. However, we expected to see some changes made to the rear but Renault has left that part untouched. In fact, the car features the same body coloured spoiler, wraparound taillamps, and the plastic-cladded rear bumper.
There is, however, one significant update made to the rear and that can be seen near the 'Renault' logo on the boot. You'll notice the addition of a rear-view camera. Yes! Among the several updates the 2018 Renault Kwid has received, it now also comes with a segment-first rear parking camera. The display, of course, is viewed on the 7-inch touchscreen Media NAV (navigation) infotainment system on the dashboard, which itself is a big USP for the Kwid, considering it's the only car in this segment to get one. The display itself is standard definition (SD) unit, however, the colours are pretty vibrant and the touch responsiveness is also good.
The rest of the cabin remains unchanged, offering the same all-black interior with black and red dual tone upholstery adding a bit of contrast to the cabin. At the rear, Renault has also added a new 12-Volt charging socket right below the C-pillar, similar to the one seen on the Duster. Furthermore, there's good news for the rear seat passengers, as the rear seat belts now come with pre-tensioners and load limiters as standard. Sadly, the regular RXT variant we drove did not come with a foldable centre armrest, like the one we have seen on the top-of-the-line Climber edition.
Under the hood, the 2018 Renault Kwid continues to come with the same 999 cc three-cylinder petrol engine that offers a maximum output of 67 bhp at 5500 rpm and develops a peak torque of 91 Nm at 4250 rpm. The model we drove comes mated to Renault's Easy-R automated manual transmission (AMT), which is the same 5-speed unit as before, but unlike the pre-facelift model, this one now comes with the creep function as well. Renault is calling this the Traffic Assist function, which helps the vehicle to crawl at a speed of 5-6 km in drive mode once you take your foot off the brakes. This definitely is a welcome addition for those who frequently drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
However, in terms of performance, the AMT unit hasn't changed much from the pre-facelift model. There's still a bit of hesitation when the system shifts through the first and second gears and there's a distinct clunk that comes from the gearbox. In fact, if you try to hurry and floor the accelerator the AMT takes some time to respond and there's a very noticeable lag. However, in the higher ratios, once the engine reaches around 4000 rpm, the shifts become much smoother and the car really starts to respond well. At this point, the rumbling of the engine and the tyre noise is harsh enough to disturb the peace of the cabin. Having said that, the Kwid handles pretty well, even at high speeds and the suspension set up too handles the undulations on the road pretty nicely, although it's slightly set on the softer side, so the ride feels a bit bumpy sometimes. The steering is a bit light but there is decent feedback and it offers ease in manoeuvring.
So this brings us to the question, is the 2018 Renault Kwid better than that older model? Most definitely. The Renaut Kwid continues to come with several first-in-class features and is arguably the best-looking car in the entry-level hatchback space. The surprise here though is that there is no change in price. Priced in the range of ₹ 2.66 lakh to ₹ 4.59 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the car still makes for a very good value proposition for anyone looking out to buy his or her first car. Furthermore, the tweaks and the host of new and updated features that Renault has added make the 2018 Kwid just a bit more relevant, especially, with the festive season is right around the corner.
Photos: Pawan Dagia