A glammed up KWID

The flashy touches don’t change the performance or comfort of KWID, but add a small cheerful touch to make driving more fun

What does a car company do after it develops a successful model? It can either try to hold on to its market position with price and promotion strategies when faced with increasing competition, or try to reinvent itself. It can introduce a completely new platform and new engines, or make some cosmetic changes to refresh the brand to attract new customers without disturbing the main brands. But, as any fashion model knows, the cosmetics have to be eye-catching.

After a late start Renault made a fast market entry with a few ‘disruptive’ cars or cars that really shook up the market. First was the Duster ‘crossover’ SUV that offered the space and comforts of a saloon but with the looks of a SUV and at an affordable price that made their first hit. They then took the SUV theme to the small car segment with their KWID that offered the space and price of a Maruti Alto or Hyundai Eon but with a cheeky and more aggressive SUV look. It was taller than its competitors with a good 180 mm ground clearance and a high seating position to give the driver the feel of a bigger car.

The small SUV theme quickly became very successful and as success spawns competition, several smallish and small SUVs were soon offered by competitive auto makers. Renault therefore responded with ‘jazzed up’ version of their very successful KWID. The car has exactly the same platform, shape and 1000cc 68HP petrol engine, but also has many cosmetic changes designed to catch the eye. The designers have been lavish in splashing small bits of vibrant orange colour to nearly every available surface. This vivid orange is the theme colour of the Renault brand and catches the eye. You will therefore see flashes of orange externally on the front and rear bumper overrides, on the roof rails and on the Outside Rear View Mirrors (ORVM’s). These orange highlights are also inside on the gear shift lever, some of the instruments, door panels, and on the edges of the seats. The new KWID also has sporty new wheel rims and door protection cladding. The sub-brand ‘climber’ has no significance as the engine, wheels and suspension are unchanged. It is just a label to distinguish it from the main model.

None of these flashy touches change the performance or comfort of the KWID but they add a small cheerful touch to make the driving experience more fun. The seating is

comfortable and three passengers can squeeze into the back bench because the tallish roof makes it feel a bit more spacious than it really is. The 3-cylinder 68 HP engine is quite peppy though a little noisy when the accelerator is pushed hard. As a premium model it also carries a long list of features for entertainment, safety and comfort.

There is also no change to its 5-speed manual or AMT automatic gear shifting system though dealers report that most buyers are now opting for the more expensive automatic model as it is undoubtedly a great convenience for city driving. The basic DNA of a spacious and peppy little car continues and though the KWID Climber is available at a slightly higher cost than the main model, many buyers seem to be willing to pay a bit more for the pleasure of being noticed.

The author is the region’s most celebrated automobile columnist