The sub-four metre compact SUV space is
among the most challenging segments in the country. So, when Renault decided to
throw its hat into the ring, they had to come out all guns blazing. And that’s
exactly what they did. The Kiger comes packed to the gills with features, gets
the option of a turbo-petrol motor and is priced aggressively. And add to that,
it looks stunning.
Early reports are coming in from dealers
that there is already a six to eight weeks waiting period to get your hands on
one. However, all the interest in the car notwithstanding, we had to know how
it is to drive. So, without further ado let us dive in to our first drive
review of the Renault Kiger.
The first thing that strikes you about the
Kiger is just how good it looks. Sure, the front end does remind you of the
Kwid, but that is not a bad thing at all. The Kwid after all is a great looking
car. The Kiger continues in the same vein and dials up the macho quotient even
further. The split LED lamps with the triple rectangular elements in the main
headlamp do make it look rather distinct from the Kwid. There are a number of
cuts and creases on the front fascia with generous use of black plastic lower
down on the bumper. The large Renault logo along with the creases on the bonnet
gives it a butch, muscular stance.
Towards the side, the Kiger inherits the
squared-off wheel arches and the black plastic cladding from the Kwid. It does
get alloy wheels in a unique Y-shape design. In this two-tone finish that we
were testing it easily stands out from cars around it. There is a chunky
C-pillar and the two-tone finish helps cut the visual bulk. The roof rails add
to the SUV appeal. The sharply raked rear windshield neatly ties together the
design with the C-shaped taillamps. The design and the lighting signature of
the taillamps is a design highlight for sure. All in all, design is a high
point with the Renault Kiger. It is now probably the best-looking car in the
The great design continues as you make your
way inside. Yes, as has been reported previously, it doesn’t get the most
premium of materials on the inside. But even then, the Kiger comes across as a
great representation of good design on the inside. There are a number of
textures and finishes in the cabin that break up the monotony of the cabin.
There are not many glossy bits of plastic in the cabin and that is a welcome
departure from the norm.
The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system
with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is very responsive and is easy to use and read
off while driving. The aircon controls are thankfully in the form of rotary
dials and there is even a wireless charger. The steering is chunky and gets
steering mounted controls as well. This brings me to the piece de resistance –
the 7-inch instrument cluster. Take a bow Renault, you have absolutely nailed
this. The design and functionality of this unit from Renault is what
manufacturers should aspire for. It is easy to read on the fly, looks gorgeous
and gives you all the information you need and then some. There are bars that
tell you the ‘g’ forces you are experiencing and the power and torque that the
engine is producing in Sport mode. The instrument cluster does transform as you
switch driving modes. Very, very impressive indeed!
As you take your position behind the wheel,
you will notice that the Kiger’s front seats are actually very well cushioned
and are pretty supportive. Grab hold of the chunky steering wheel to set out
and immediately you will notice the well weighted steering which in today’s era
of super light units is great to have. The car that we were driving was
equipped with the 1-litre turbo petrol unit producing 98.6bhp at 5000rpm and
160Nm between 2800-3600rpm mated to a 5-speed manual. Right off the bat, I
could feel that it is probably among the quickest in its segment. The motor is
punchy and really pulls strongly all the way to the redline. There is
discernible turbo lag but work the gears smartly and you have got yourselves a
quick car. In gear acceleration is good as well and although the engine does
get a little loud, it is accompanied by a proportional increase in speed.
The driving modes significantly alter the
throttle response. Eco, Normal and Sport are mapped exactly how they sound like
with Eco mode helping you eke out more kilometres from every litre of petrol
and Sport allowing you to push the engine to the redline with sharper throttle
response. The gearbox however does dampen the mood a bit and is a bit notchy
with longer throws. The clutch, although on the heavier side is fairly
progressive and it is easy to find the bite point.
Back to the well weighted steering, and I
am happy to report that although it doesn’t have a lot of feedback it is fairly
accurate and makes it easy to place the Kiger on the road. The added weight
helps as speeds increase but the ride does get a little too busy at seriously
high speeds. Manufacturers often have to make some sort of a compromise between
ride and handling and Renault here seems to have done a good job at it. The
ride at low speeds is pliant and very few bumps really make their presence felt
in the cabin.
As speeds increase, the ride stays good but
it seems like the suspension is working really hard to keep the car flat. The
result is that at seriously high speeds the Kiger doesn’t seem very planted.
But that’s just me nit-picking. At everyday city and highway speeds Kiger
handles well. Sure, there is some amount of body roll, but it isn’t worrisome and
the Kiger sticks to its line easily through the corners. Kiger leans on its
front disc and rear drum setup to deliver good braking performance with good
The Kiger is a very practical car too. The
backseat is fairly comfortable with good amounts of knee, shoulder and head
room. The under-thigh support isn’t the best but is largely comparable to the
rest of the cars in the segment. There are tons of cubby holes and a large
sized glove box as well. With the rear seats up, the Kiger offers 405 litres of
storage space. The seats do fold almost flat and you can liberate even more
The Kiger, simply put, comes across as a
breath of fresh air. It offers almost all that you could ask from a car in its
segment while still managing to do so at a price point that only the Nissan
Magnite matches. The Kiger drives well, is great to look at and has tons of
features. In essence, it has everything going for it. Briefly put, this SUV is
enthusiastic to drive, functional and looks like a million bucks. For now, there is nothing to match this Eye
of the Kiger!
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