First the 800cc, then the 1.0-litre and now it’s the AMT, Renault India is leaving no stones unturned when it comes to ensuring that its entry level hatchback Kwid, turns out to be a big success in the Indian car market. This car has already started to show signs of positivity as within the span of just a year since the launch, the Kwid has started to feature in the list of Top-10 best selling cars, month after month. A major chunk of the Kwid's sold so far in India can be found parked primarily in the garages of urban Indian families. These urban Indian families, as the current sentiment shows, have now started to opt for automatic vehicles, ditching the manual ones, for the sheer convenience that these gearboxes have to offer in busy stop go city traffic.
This is the very reason that Renault has decided to bring in the AMT equipped version of the Kwid, the final and key ingredient in the success recipe of this entry level hatchback in India. We got the opportunity to test drive this particular variant in the ever so happening city of Mumbai and our first driving impression left us quite impressed, if not utterly amazed, by the characteristics of the Renault KWID AMT.
Before we get down in to the details of what the Kwid AMT is like to drive, let us first talk about what it is like to behold. Well, exactly like it has been from the start. Apart from the Easy-R badge on the boot-lid, there is no other visual sign that differentiates Renault Kwid AMT from its manual 1.0-litre siblings. It’s SUV like design and contemporary styling cues continued to attract our attention and the fancy of others on the road. Since the AMT will only be available on the top of the line RXT trim, it will get external features like body coloured bumpers, front fog-lamps, side view mirror on the front passenger door, unique shade ORVMs, black B-pillar, black 1.0-litre decals on doors and multi-spoke wheel covers.
Things remain exactly the same on the inside as well. The only feature unique to the KWID AMT is a rotary gear selector knob mounted on the lower part of the dashboard; alongside the power window and hazard warning light switches. Yes, you read it right, the automated Kwid, unlike other AMTs sold in India, gets a stylish, chrome highlighted rotary gear knob and not the usual gear stick. Apart from the visual appeal that it adds to the already swanky cabin, the same has now vacated space on the centre tunnel; which has now been taken up by an ergonomically placed cubby hole.
On the feature front, being available in the RXT trim, the Kwid AMT will come equipped with chrome contoured digital instrument cluster, optional leather wrapped steering wheel, chrome highlighted air-con vents, front-power windows, electric power steering, touchscreen MediaNAV system with the facility of AUX-in, USB and Bluetooth connectivity with 2 speakers and a 12-Volt power socket.
Now to the most important part i.e. the drivability of the Renault Kwid AMT. But before we get to that, let us first get all the technicalities out of the way. As already mentioned before, the AMT equipped gearbox will only be available paired with the 1.0-litre SCe engine. This petrol motor in question is a 3-cylinder, 999cc engine which churns out 66 bhp of power output @ 5500 rpm and generates 91 Nm of peak torque @ 4250 rpm. The AMT gearbox is based out of the standard 5-speed manual unit which does its duty on the stick shift variants of this entry level hatchback.
In normal city driving conditions, this Easy-R AMT gearbox operates in a surprisingly convenient fashion. The up shifts occur somewhere around the 2,000 rpm to 2,500 rpm mark while it downshifts at approximately 1,500 rpm. The acceleration is linear and delivered smoothly, however there is a slight catch in here. Being an AMT, the gearbox takes a considerable chunk of time when shifting from one gear to the other. Hence the transition, particularly when going up through the gears does feature a lag and is jerky at times; thus not the most comfortable. Albeit this; when in a particular gear, the car pulls effortlessly and feel no weirder to drive than regular manual gearbox. Performing small overtaking maneuvers does not take much of an effort, that is if you are in the right gear. However, purposeful downshifting will require a hard press of the accelerator pedal.
Out on the highway, thanks to the 1.0-litre engine, the Kwid AMT sits quite comfortably at triple digit speeds, maxing out at 125 km/h. There are no unexpected downshifts from the gearbox once the same has reached its pinnacle i.e. the fifth gear. When pushed hard, the rev band of one particular gear increases as the car climbs up to speed with the final gear slotting in well after the 115 km/h mark. Cabin insulation could do with a bit of an improvement, as past 90km/h a lot of wind and road noise makes its way inside the cabin.
Summing it all up, we would like to say that the Renault Kwid AMT, by its characteristics, definitely takes this entry level hatchback’s desirability factor to another level. Despite a few niggles, the Kwid AMT have managed to amaze us, just like its 800cc and 1.0-litre siblings did in the past. This is simply because of the fact that in spite of falling in a segment that is highly cost sensitive, the Kwid, now equipped with an automatic gearbox, continues to stand out as a legitimate choice.