Road Review: Renault Kiger 1.0 Turbo Intens CVT

The Renault Kiger was recently launched in South Africa in a wave of pre-event publicity that brought with it high levels of expectation and anticipation.

Under normal circumstances the cars I receive for road test purposes are driven and the review published within a few days. With the Renault Kiger, specifically the 1.0 Turbo CVT, I have been wrestling with mixed emotions for a couple of weeks.

Basically, I am disappointed. This is a purely emotional response as there is nothing inherently or specifically wrong with the Kiger. It fits neatly into its market segment, offers sufficiently good levels of active and passive safety, is reasonably comfortable but, it underperforms physically and ‘spiritually’.

Kind of the ‘Tiger ‘ is more pussycat than mighty hunter.

Renault was an early pioneer of the three-cylinder 1,0-litre turbo engine but the 74 kW and 160 Nm just seem inadequate with the CVT gearbox more indecisive than it should be.

Admittedly, the test routine does put pressure on the vehicle some way beyond what the average buyer would put it through and I have to point out for the daily A-B urban run, the Kiger will tick all the necessary boxes.

The Kiger is built on the same platform as Alliance partner Nissan’s Magnite, but is its own car from that base and the exterior of the vehicle has sculpted lines with a higher ground clearance, aluminium finish skid plates and a rear window finished off with an integrated spoiler.

Up front are LED daytime running lights. The lower part features tri-octa LED PURE VISION headlamps, while the tail light units with glossy black inserts outline the rear double C-shaped lighting signature.

Inside, it is fairly roomy – 710 mm between the seats, second row legroom of 222 mm and elbow room of 1 413 mm.  Boot space is 405 litres, which can extend to 879 litres with the second row of seats folded down and there is onboard storage capacity of 29 litres, including four 1-litre water bottle holders and two cup holders. The central armrest has a deep storage space of 7,5 litres while the glove compartment has a volume of 10,5 litres, with the upper and lower glove box capacity totalling 14,9 litres.

The centre console features an 8-inch floating touchscreen with wireless smartphone replication for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system not only offers voice recognition through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but also Bluetooth connectivity that can pair up to five devices, a USB socket for faster charging and a built-in MP4 video player.

The higher spec models offer a multi-sense driving experience as well as ambient lighting. The multi-sense feature enables the selection of different driving modes for a completely different driving experience – i.e., Normal, Eco or Sport mode. Normal mode offers an optimum driving experience for city driving conditions. It also provides useful information such as real-time and average fuel consumption all in a blue colour look. Eco mode provides a drive which is inclined towards economic driving practices, changing the overall appearance of the TFT to green. 

Sport mode provides a drive experience with crisper engine response and faster shifting. The overall TFT screen turns to red with quick information of acceleration gauge, torque, power ratios etc.

Shifting from Sport to Eco is akin to running into a brick wall, such is the change to the system. Eco is totally gutless and is useful only for bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions or cruising a flat stretch of highway. I would venture most buyers will opt to keep it in Normal or Sport all the time and accept a slightly heavier fuel consumption result.

Overtaking or just simply having fun motoring will also prompt use of the manual option.

I am a great fan of the Renault Duster and my expectation was the Kiger would bring everything about that into a B-segment sized package.

Accepting it is a smaller vehicle, it just does not have the sure-footed feeling of the Duster and is a bit ‘soft’ in corners with quite a lot of body roll and front end wash under hard cornering. Equally, it misses out on the transitional alacrity of the Clio.

What it does gain is a brand new, quality sound system – the auditorium 3D sound system by Arkamys, with eight onboard speakers (four 6,5-inch speakers, four tweeters). The system automatically adjusts sound volume according to the speed of the vehicle.

Safety spec includes a reinforced body structure, anti-lock braking with EBD, ESP, ISOFIX (for child seat safety), four crash bags (front + passenger + front side bags), seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters, rear parking sensors, impact sensing door lock and pedestrian protection.

As is the case across Renault’s entire product range, the new Renault Kiger comes standard with a

5-year/150 000 km mechanical warranty and a 6-year anticorrosion warranty, with service intervals at 15 000 km.

I have no doubt sales figures will enshrine the popularity of the Kiger, considering it has fairly competitive pricing in the segment.

It just did not give me the ‘wow’ feeling I was hoping for.

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