The subcompact SUV segment of India’s automotive segment has quickly grown to become one of the most crowded segments in the market. The Ford EcoSport started the sub-4-meter SUV trend back in 2013 and then continued to hit home runs by attracting many B2-segment and C1-segment hatchback buyers. By 2016, Maruti Suzuki had launched the Vitara Brezza, a B-SUV that would dominate the sales charts for many years to come. By the end of the last decade, most other mainstream car makers had jumped on the bandwagon and, to varying degrees, had a taste for success. Earlier this year, Renault India launched its own version of the Kiger a few months after its alliance partner entered the busy subcompact SUV market. Our Renault Kiger test drive review should summarize everything you need to know about the new kid on the block.
The Renault Kiger shares its platform, and even its engine, with the Nissan Magnite, but the similarities don’t extend to aesthetics. Visually, it doesn’t look at all like its siblings, which is not a bad thing if you consider that Kiger’s design fits many of the established products in the company’s lineup. For example, the front end features a stylish DRL LED and a multi-port lighting arrangement that reminds you of the updated Kwid. However, the bumper looks more sporty and brings a very dynamic touch to the front facade, making it more appealing than the Datsun the Magnite-style dashboard. Another highlight beforehand is the carefully sculpted hood, which does a great job of making things more interesting.
The side profile is again reminiscent of the Kwid, especially around the C pillars. However, all plastic cladding, along with bold 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels and roof rails, validate the merits of the small SUV. Meanwhile, the buttocks are my favorite part thanks to the pretty curvy shoes and Captur-inspired C-shaped LED lights. Overall, it’s safe to say that the Kiger is one of the most beautiful options in the segment, and it shows more talent than the Maruti Vitara Brezza, Mahindra XUV300 and its own sibling, the Nissan Magnite.
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One of the biggest challenges for vehicles under 4 meters is the packaging restrictions that designers face. However, we have been surprised by the space and functionality that the Triber offers, so we almost always have high expectations for the Kiger interior. A common problem with most subcompact SUVs is a lack of legroom for rear occupants, a challenge that some manufacturers have overcome by reducing trunk space. With the Kiger, however, Renault not only frees up enough rear passenger space, but also offers 405 liters of class-leading boot space. In fact, the cabin scores high enough for functionality, with lots of cubes and storage areas scattered around the cabin. For example, the dashboard offers two glove boxes, à la Triber. In fact, the dashboard itself looks pretty close to what you would see on a subcompact MPV, and lacks the Lamborghini-esque look found on the Magnite unit. Thankfully, you get a slightly better plastic quality than the brothers offer, but it’s still below the Hyundai Venue and Kia Sonet level.
However, you do get a fully digital instrument cluster that looks more sophisticated than what you would see on its sibling with a Nissan badge. The fonts and readings are very reasonable, and even compliment the color theme depending on the driving mode you’re in. The steering is also nice to grip while ergonomic. The seats are soft, support you well, and should keep you reasonably comfortable on long drives. Cabin highlights include a wireless smartphone charger, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto / Apple CarPlay wireless, a 7.0-inch TFT instrument cluster, 8-speaker Arkamys audio system, rear AC vents and 4 airbags (2 for Nissan) a) magnetite). That said, it misses out on the tinted glass, vehicle dynamics control, traction control, TPMS, and a 360-degree parking camera that the Magnite offers. Also, in the Kiger, only the driver is fitted with seat belts with pretenders and load restrictors, while all Magnite front seat holders can use them.
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Similar to the Nissan Magnite, the Renault Kiger comes with two 1.0-liter three-cylinder petrol units – a naturally aspirated 71 bhp vanilla unit and a more powerful 99 bhp turbo version. The latter is available with two transmissions – a 5-speed MT and a CVT. The first was driven and we were impressed with the performance of the tap. Aside from the noticeable turbo delay below 1,800 RPM, the engine feels noisy. For example, once you have passed 2,000 RPM, the motor starts and rewards you with strong performance. Dial the Kiger into Sport mode for sharper trigger and more powerful performance. However, the engine can be quite noisy, especially at higher revs. Also, it’s certainly not the most refined unit, and tighter NVH control would make the whole driving experience more upscale.
The Renault Kiger even strikes a worthy balance of ride and handling. Great rides have always been a strength of Renault, and Kiger loves that family quality. The new model almost slides over small bumps, and while the larger irregularities make the car a little turbulent, passengers won’t complain as much as they do in the Kia Sonnet. Even the handling is pretty good unless you are looking for great corner tools. There is plenty of bodybuilding under rapid lane changes, but this is what we would expect from a high-end family car that retails at this price point. One highlight here, though, is that the steering gets heavier in Sport mode, which helps you feel more confident about the ghats. Conversely, in Eco mode, the steering becomes lightweight, helping you navigate crowded city streets with ease. Finally, the brakes feel adequate. These are not the smartest anchors offered, but they are certainly well versed in pulling this car down at quite high speeds.
The Renault Kiger is a sub-4m SUV that isn’t particularly good in any department, but certainly good enough to be a pretty complete product. But what really precipitated the ratings in favor of Kiger was its cheap prices. Starting at Rs 5.45 lakh *, the Kiger is the most affordable B-SUV available. In fact, even the first-class turbo manual version at Rs 8.72 lakh * offers an excellent value proposition. Overall, the Renault Kiger is definitely a bit late, but it has enough sleeve to steal the show.
* All prices are introductory, pre-showroom prices
Renault Kiger – Photo Gallery