We have driven the first-ever Renault Triber - a car that has evoked so much curiosity since its world debut in India in June 2019. Based on a heavily derived CMF-A platform from the Renault-Nissan Alliance (that gave us the Renault Kwid and Datsun RediGo), the Triber is meant to fill the gap between the CMF-A and M0 platform model lines - read Kwid and Duster/Captur. The 'new' platform it uses is therefore highly modified and so what you get is a much larger car. Much larger. And much wider. The big question everyone has is - will that 1 litre engine be good enough to power this MPV like hatchback? Or to put it simply - is the Renault Triber underpowered?
Engine and Performance
Renault calls it the 'Energy Engine' - one it uses on several global products like its bestselling Clio. The 999 cc, 3-cylinder motor is tuned to make 71 bhp at a very high 6250 rpm, and 96 Nm of peak torque. Now while peak torque comes in at 3500 rpm, the engine also delivers 80 per cent of its torque at 2000 rpm - giving you a good band for city driving in particular. And I am actually quite impressed with this engine. I shall explain why. The engine is actually surprisingly peppy, and does make a lot of noise as it gets going - typical of a 3 pot. Sound insulation is very good though, so the minute you put your windows up, you cannot hear it as much and so it won't bother you. The engine is not powerful, but neither is it sluggish. See what Renault is going for here is to offer an engine that does the job - and that it does - ably and comfortably.
The Triber isn't really trying to be a performance car anyway. Instead it is more of an efficient people mover, and given that requirement I think this engine does quite well. It does rev very quickly to redline, and as I said makes a lot of noise as it does. But it gets up to higher speeds quickly enough. The gearbox is good, but yes under 3000 rpm, you will find it gives out a bit. In traffic, undershifting is necessary at lower speeds, and so an automatic is definitely going to be a boon on this car. Renault says a 5-Speed AMT is coming, but we still do not know exactly when it will get to us. Claimed mileage is 20 kmpl.
How's it with 7 people on board?
So the car can move - but how is it when you load it up? After all that is the big USP of the car - space for people and things! So we got some help from Vikrant from Carwale, and his team so we could put 7 people in, and the character does not change dramatically at all. And certainly not as I had expected. The Triber still moves with a similar agility and response, which I have to say, is a huge plus. And a huge relief! The car turns with ease, is easy to park and manoeuvre as well - and while I find its steering to be too soft and loose, a lot of Indian drivers will love it! For me it's a little bit of a miss because, you know typically with European cars, you expect there to be a stiffer feel to the steering and a little better feedback. Well, that is definitely lacking.
Ride and Handling
I am also surprised by the lack of stiffness in the overall handling of the car. I don't expect an MPV to be sporty, and yet the cornering isnt what you expect from Renault. Given the kind of usage that the company expects of this car, I am not too worried about this though. It was raining hard a few times during my drive, so I did get to try the car's handling and performance in wet and dry conditions. While handling isn't as precise as I would have liked, ride quality is really great - and that is true in every row of this car.
So that big question out of the way, let me tell you more about the Triber. European styling very evident in its design. The car looks smart, well-built and fairly premium in its design appeal.
While the Triber is not a pretty car, it is very smart, very European and yes - very Renault in its looks. It certainly looks modern and contemporary enough, and I think the whole emphasis of the design is to tell you, how nice and wide this car is - so all the elements - be it the front grille, its bumpers, and even the SUV like cladding and skid plate, the LED daytime running lights (DRLs) - are all very horizontal and enhance its width and tall stance. That signature Renault face has the black grille with chrome embellishments - thought the logo is smaller than I would have expected. The projector headlamps are standard while the DRLs are only available with the top-end RXZ trim. The 15-inch wheels we have on our test car are an add-on option with the RXZ, whereas the standard wheel size is 14-inch for all variants.
Also See: Renault Triber Photo Gallery
In terms of size, the Triber is very much in the realm of the larger premium hatchbacks like the Maruti Suzuki Baleno and the Hyundai i20. It is just marginally bigger than both those bestsellers actually. But hold on - the Triber's positioning puts in more in Grand i10 or Swift territory. So when you compare to those cars, the Triber appears massive. And that is because it really is. In fact its wheelbase is longer than the Hyundai Creta's and almost as much as the Duster's.
|Dimensions In millimetres (mm)|
|Hyundai Grand i10 Nios||3805||2450||1680||1520|
|Maruti Suzuki Swift||3840||2450||1735||1530|
|Renault Triber||3990||2636||1739||1643 (minus roof rails)|
|Maruti Suzuki Baleno||3995||2520||1745||1510|
Are you surprised by those numbers? Well you should be! I was too, and that's because this car is blowing a hole right in the middle of two different segments. The short overhangs, tall roof and extremely impressive space utilisation are a massive USP. The wheelbase is maximised as a result, and the stepped roof (not immediately noticeable due to the roof rails) will give you great headroom for the rear seats.
Interior and Equipment
Okay so the car looks impressive and BIG. But just as sharp as it looks from the outside, the inside is a tad drab and unimpressive. The cabin looks bland, and very plain. Yet the plastics are okay and the seats have a good look and are comfy - despite being thin. What the car does offer is space and that too lots of it, which is further accentuated by the colour palette and the large windows. In fact, even in the third row you will never feel claustrophobic or cramped. The dual-tone dash is simple and it along with several other nooks in the car offer tonnes of storage options. There are two glove compartments, and one of them is cooled. The flat bottomed steering wheel is a nice touch.
The Triber has four variants - RXE, RXL, RXT, and RXZ and it's pretty well loaded right from the base up. Features like the cooled glovebox and rear AC vents are standard from the RXL variant though, and the two highest trims get the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The silver finish on the dash, the push-button start, and rear camera is only available with the RXZ. I'd have liked features like the rear defogger and wiper to be standard though since the rear windscreen is very upright and rather large. There is a dedicated fan speed controller for the rear AC vents that are positioned in the B-pillar (for row two) and roof (for row 3). A USB charging port at the front and 12V outlets for the second and third row passengers round off the goodies list.
While the car does alright on safety, in terms of basic equipment and build quality, it could have been better. Seatbelts for the middle second row passenger and the third row are less than ideal. The passenger sitting in the middle in the second row will have to do with just a two point hip seatbelt and the seatbelts on the third row do not get pretensioners. That's a negative in my book. Renault is also not offering ISOFIX child seat mounts, even as an option, which is a big miss considering the Triber is likely to attract a lot of family car buyers - and yes I see adoption of child seats only going up even in Tier 2 or 3 towns. Dual front airbags are standard though, and the RXZ gets additional side front airbags too.
The car's space is its USP as I mentioned, and so is the modularity. You can use various configurations for the seats. The second row seat gets a 60:40 split and it also has a sliding function. The smaller section can be folded and tumbled for easy ingress and egress to the third row. The third row is surprisingly spacious if you slide row two a bit ahead - legroom on neither row gets compromised as a result. The seats also give you good knee room, and one has to marvel how this is possible under 4 metres.
As I mentioned the headroom is great - and so the feeling of space, and the actual space itself is terrific. You can get a 6-seater layout with 320 litres of boot space by removing one third row seat. Or a 5-seater with 625 litres by removing the last row entirely with the EASYFIX function. That can be done in a few quick steps - just push and remove the back rests, pull the cord underneath the seat, and slowly pull the seat out of the anchors. It does take a few tries to get it out smoothly, but you won't take more than couple of minutes to remove them once you get the hang of it. Now Renault claims that the Triber offers about 100 different seating configurations, but we couldn't think of more than 10 to 12 configurations. But yes you can also have a 4-seater layout using one seat each in row two and three, to allow longer cargo (like a surfboard!) to be stored with ease.
|Renault Triber Variants||Prices (ex-showroom, Delhi)|
|RXE||₹ 4.95 lakh|
|RXL||₹ 5.49 lakh|
|RXT||₹ 5.99 lakh|
|RXZ||₹ 6.49 lakh|
The Renault Triber is a unique animal - with no true rival. It has USPs many of you may not think you need - but actually do. And so while it may not seem like an appealing enough car at the start, it's the kind I suspect that will grow on you. It is practical, cavernously roomy, and yet has quick cooling cabin, it's efficient; and while the engine is no fire starter, it certainly is not underpowered. And so given the prices, the Triber is a fantastic package, and a welcome addition to the Indian hatchback segment and the overall car bazaar - one that may compel competition to relook at their hatchback strategies.
Photos: Pawan Dagia