Johannesburg: Renault SA describes its new entry-level contender, the one-litre Kwid hatch, as 'SUV-inspired'. What that means we're not sure, other than a reference to the black plastic mouldings around the wheel-arches and along the sills and that it is slightly taller than usual for a little hatch.
Mind you, if they help to protect it from the car-park dings and scratches that are the lot of any hard-working city-car, we - and prospective buyers - won't care what they call it, particularly now that it has been released in South Africa in two trim levels, at prices that are going to worry even the Chinese.
At 2422mm, the Kwid's wheelbase is long by the standards of the class and it stands tall with 180mm of ground, while short overhangs and a typically French forward mounted, steeply raked windshield give it extra cabin space and a decent 300 litre luggage compartment.
What's under the hood, mister?
Both Kwid models come with a 999cc, naturally aspirated SCe (Smart Control efficiency) petrol three for which Renault quotes 50kW at 5500 revs and 91Nm at 4250rpm, driving the front wheels via a five-speed manual cogset. It'll hit a hundred in 16.8 seconds, says the maker, and top out at 155km/h.
Fuel consumption is quoted at what Renault itself calls "an incredible 4.71 litres per 100km" (we wouldn't be that cruel) and fuel tank capacity at just 28 litres; this is, after all, a city car.
In the comfort zone
Standard kit across the range includes electric power steering, air conditioning, electric front windows, height-adjustable front seats and a digital instrument cluster, while the more expensive Dynamique version also has a MediaNav multimedia system with an 18cm colour touchscreen display and Bluetooth connectivity set in a in a piano black centre console with chrome surround.
1.0 Expression - R119 900
1.0 Dynamique - R129 900
These include Renault's standard five-year or 150 000km warranty. Service intervals are 15 000km and a service plan is available as an extra-cost option.
Who should be worried?
Well, everybody really; the cheapest entry-level hatch that we could find on the South African market was the Chery QQ3, starting at R99 995, but with only 38kW from its 800cc engine. To get comparable power you'll need the 1.1-litre QQ3 TXE at R114 995.
The Datsun Go 1.2 also has 50kW (and more torque at 104Nm), and starts at R106 900, but to get an equivalent level of trim you'll have to move up to the Lux at R123 900.
The FAW V2 1.3 (with a little more muscle at 67kW / 120Nm) starts at R114 995, the Tata Indica 1.4 at R118 995, the Suzuki Celerio at R129 900, Kia's Picanto at R129 995 and the Hyundai i10 at more than R150K - as does every other entry-level hatch on the market.
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