Final report: After over a year, our dependable Kiger 1.0 MT long termer makes way for its CVT automatic sibling in our fleet.
When I got the keys to this blue Kiger in April last year, my first impression was that this is just an enlarged Kwid with more power and better equipment. At the end of its tenure – almost a year later – I can say that this is the best vehicle Renault currently offers in India; yes, it’s a small portfolio, but its siblings are very good too. The Kiger has been popular among my friends and family because it’s unique and not as common as other compact SUVs. Secondly, the styling is good: you can’t leave the SUV without giving it a second look. The Kiger is arguably one of the best-looking compact SUVs on sale in India at the moment. I really like the coupe-SUV silhouette, the flat bonnet and the wide nose that make it look much bigger than it actually is. Those sharp-looking LED headlamps on our top-spec Kiger – with the jewel effect – give it an upmarket look, gathering their own set of compliments. They are placed quite low, have an excellent throw and double up as fog lamps to help light up corners.
The headlights not only look premium, but also have an excellent throw.
Step inside and the all-black cabin is something that I really like. I did do a few 100km-plus drives in the Kiger on the outskirts of Mumbai and can say that the seats, especially at the front, have just the right amount of cushioning for long-distance journeys. I found the full-digital instrument cluster a bit funky though, and it’s not really to my liking.
An important point to note here is that you do not get a tachometer when using the Kiger in the Normal mode, you need to switch to Sport mode for that. Speaking of Sport mode, the responses from the 100hp, 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine is better, and so is its performance, but it does drink more fuel. Average fuel economy drops to around 8.5kpl in the city as opposed to 11.5-12kpl in City mode. This is for the 25km round trip from my home to the erstwhile Autocar India office at Byculla, which, according to me, is quite impressive for a turbo-petrol engine. In fact, once you have driven the Kiger in Sport mode, you will not feel like switching back to Normal as engine response – especially from a standstill – is a tad low in City mode. This makes me rev the engine higher than usual to gather speed from a stop. In pursuit of a better fuel economy figure, I did drive the Kiger in Eco mode, but I switched back to City mode in no time as Eco mode is borderline undrivable. Power delivery is unpleasantly jerky, especially off the throttle and the responses are even slower than before. What I really like about our long-term Kiger 1.0 Turbo, however, is that when you drive it in a silent neighbourhood with your windows down, you can hear the smooth yet subtle turbo whistle, which is music to an enthusiast’s ear.
The 1.0 turbo-petrol delivers over 11kpl in the city.
My daily commute also made me a fan of the Kiger’s ride quality; it simply smothers almost every uneven surface on the road, and mind you, there are plenty in Mumbai. The ride quality is quite supple and it actually improves as you go faster. What I also liked about the SUV is its cabin: the material quality is decent and the large centre console makes it look much more premium than it is. While the centre console looks cool, it has a few oddities. First up, the handbrake lever is placed next to the passenger seat, which makes it look like it’s been positioned for a left-hand drive vehicle. Secondly, the seatbelt buckles are located quite low and too close to the centre console, so finding them with a single hand is a task.
The cupholders are tiny and placed inside the narrow console.
During its tenure with me, I did face some minor niggles like the driver-side window’s auto up/down feature not working at times, the rear parking sensors often giving up, and the infotainment system giving an “overheating” error when the vehicle was parked or driven in the summer heat. This was also the time the AC slightly struggled to keep the cabin cool, even in its lowest temperature setting.
Our 1.0-litre manual Kiger is now returning, and getting replaced with a 1.0-litre CVT. And while I do like the blue shade and a lot more about this Kiger, I am glad to switch over to the CVT automatic version that I am taking over from Jay.
The rear parking sensors stopped working in a few months.
If you’re on a tight budget, the Kiger is the compact SUV you should go for. It has stylish looks, long features list, superb ride quality, decent fuel economy, and an ex-showroom price of just above Rs 10 lakh, and yet, it’s still not that common on the road.
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