There is a series currently running on television about a mirror image world to the one we know and in which the same people exist – your double – but do not necessarily have exactly the same lives, aspirations or outcomes.
Putting the Renault Kwid Climber and the AMT alongside each other, produces somewhat of a similar scenario with two cars from the same stable, identical in many respects but so different they are. . . wait for it. . . world apart.
In South Africa, the SUV-inspired Kwid hatchback has sold more than 10 000 vehicles since its launch in late 2016 and took third position as one of South Africa’s 10 best-selling passenger cars in December 2017, with 1 120 units sold.
Affordable transport is a key issue in South Africa, made even more important considering the economy is in a slump and there are strikes in the bus industry along with taxi violence. Young people who do have jobs and need to make the journey to and from work are eager to achieve the independence their own transport can provide.
Thus, the competitive pricing of the Indian manufactured Kwid along with the reasonably high levels of specification, make this an attractive proposition.
The Kwid Climber boasts enhanced design by means of an exterior styling pack and comes in Electric Blue or Planet Grey two-tone colouring, further enhanced with the Kwid Climber insignia, distinctive protection cladding on the doors, bumper over-riders and arching rails sporting orange accents on the roof.
Inside is a strong piano black centre fascia with orange contours and the bespoke Climber insignia on the headrests of the two-tone seats. The orange accents extend to the door trims, side air vents, the two-tone gear knob and sporty steering wheel with unique orange perforations.
Standard features include air-conditioning, electrically operated front windows and onboard navigation, this incorporated in the MediaNav navigation/multi-media system complete with 18 cm touchscreen display, radio and Bluetooth connectivity.
The 1,0-litre 3-cylinder Smart Control efficiency (SCe) engine powering the Kwid models has been optimised for power and performance and pushes out peak power of 50 kW at 5 500 r/min and maximum torque of 91 Nm at 4 250 r/min.
It is paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox and delivers a claimed 4,7 l/100 km – real world testing however put this much closer to 5,5 l/100 km.
As much as there might be a willingness from the engine, it is quite a noisy little child heading for the upper reaches of its rev range. However, it all needs to be taken in context of what the car is, what it is intended for and so on.
It is not a hot hatch. It is convenient, affordable and comfortable transport for a congested urban environment and, once on the boil, will scoot along highways without disgracing itself in terms of being able to maintain speed with the surrounding traffic.
Sure, the little engine does mean a need to gear down for the hills, but the gearbox is slick and accurate so this is far less of a chore than often is the case.
Good all round vision and the trim dimensions means it jinks through traffic with ease and whips smartly into those tight little urban parking spaces.
The Kwid AMT is, however, something different. Except for the unique colour scheme of the Climber is mechanically, dimensionally and feature wise exactly the same.
It is just the AMT gearbox.
AMT stands for Automated Manual Transmission that means a manual gearbox with an electronically controlled clutch.
The idea may be sound but the execution is horrible.
The intention is the driver should have the same sensation in the car as if he or she were dipping the clutch and changing gear – even down to the slight dip of the nose of the car as the clutch engages.
Instead it struggles from pull off to make up its mind, takes an eternity to change one gear up and get going again – to the point where crossing a road or turning into a road becomes something of a heartstopper.
Even worse is when faced with a hill and there is neeed to change down – it almost come to a total stop as the gearbox tries to sort itself out.
This is by no means the first AMT gearbox that has found its way to market and all other before this one have had the same sort of issues – it just does not work.
There is also no possibility of driver input – there is no gear shift, just a rotary know on the dashboard offering ‘R’, ‘N’ or ‘D’ – it is either stopped, going forward or backward and one must remember it is not an automatic so releasing the footbrake on an incline will have the Kwid running backwards.
Handbrake use is paramount.
Once in top gear and up to speed, the AMT is pleasant enough to drive and it handles motorway speeds and rural routes quite easily and comfortably.
I had the upspecced Dynamique version so had the MediaNav navigation/multi-media system complete with a 18 cm touchscreen display, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free telephony, built in navigation, USB AUX-input ports and speed sensing volume control.
The Climber and the AMT could not be more different and. . . wait for it . . . there is no Kwid pro quo here.
As is standard across Renault’s entire product range, the Renault Kwid model range comes with a 5-year/150 000 km mechanical warranty and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty. Services take place at 15 000 km intervals. Optional service plans are available.