My First BIG Road Trip In A Small Car Feat. The Renault Kwid

  • Apr 27, 2024
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Small cars are more than just city commuters and that’s what Team ZigWheels put to the test with the MY2024 Kwid on an epic 600 plus km road trip from Bangalore to Goa

There is a saying that company and friends matter more than the destination on a road trip. But for this author, there’s another thing that matters just as much, and that’s the car. So when Renault invited us to experience its MY2024 lineup on a road trip from Bangalore to Goa, I was quite excited for it. 

Dreams of cruising through the scenic routes were flying through my head, of me driving the Renault Kiger turbo-petrol, giving it the beans on the butter smooth roads. But boy, was I wrong! We were assigned the most humble car out of Renault’s lineup - the Kwid. My heart sank a bit because it’s the least powerful car here, with the least amount of features. 

But life throws challenges at you and like Barney Stinson says in ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ I grabbed the keys and said - “Challenge Accepted.” This is my first-ever road-trip in such a small car and I had plenty of thoughts running through my head in anticipation. In this epic 600 plus km road trip, the Kwid will be put through the ghats of Coorg, the broken tarmac of the West Coast Road and even through surprise torrential rains. 

Day 1: Bangalore To Madikeri Via Mysore

After completing all the required formalities, our convoy flagged off from our hotel near the Bangalore Airport to Madikeri. Our first task was slicing through Bangalore’s traffic which was the perfect environment to check out how the Kwid performs inside town. 

Thankfully, an afternoon start meant skipping Bangalore’s peak traffic, but the roads were still packed. Sadly, the Kwid’s achilles heel, its poor low-end response, meant we had to work the gearbox to keep it in the boil. But mercifully, that wasn’t a task, thanks to the light clutch and controls. 

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We reached the new Bangalore - Mysore expressway in about an hour. A new 10-lane highway (six main lanes and four service lanes) which cut short the 110-odd km driving time from three hours to just 1.5 hours. Roads were smooth, no doubt, but the traffic wasn't as smooth with many examples of poor lane discipline and stopped vehicles, that too in the fast lane. 

Soon, dark grey skies start looming over us and I tell my colleague, Shreyash, who was behind the wheel, that it is going to be a really wet evening. As predicted, nature started pelting at us… hard. And while we were hoping for an uneventful journey, things took a turn for the worse as we gingerly made our way around a fallen electricity pole with live wires. This road hazard had of course created a massive traffic jam too. 

Perfect time to check out the Kwid’s updated 8-inch infotainment system, which surprisingly, was friendly and easy to use. Pairing to the wired Apple CarPlay was a breeze and the two-speaker sound system was punchy enough to get you grooving. After around 30 minutes of enjoying some fantastic Punjabi beats, traffic started to inch ahead. 

With the rain delaying us by a couple of hours, we reached Mysore, where we made our way through even more unruly traffic before hitting the highway once again to reach Madikeri, Coorg. 

Day 2 - Madikeri To Goa Via Maravanthe And Murudeshwar

This leg of the drive was my favourite as we’d be visiting two places which I personally wanted to check out for a very long time - Maravanthe Beach and Murudeshwar temple. But first, it was time to explore Coorg, also known as the Scotland of India. 

After a hearty breakfast, the Kwid and I set off towards Mangalore. This leg involved driving through the scenic ghats section, which had stunning views from corner to corner. I wanted to stop between each curve for photos, but soon I was focussed on enjoying the butter smooth roads Karnataka offered us. 

Picture this in your mind – long straights, swooping hairpin bends and a mix of low- and high-speed corners – flowing through pitch green views. This was a proper driver’s environment,  and I decided to push the Kwid to wring the most fun out of it!

Yes, it did roll around corners, but straight line stability was predictable and the steering, even though not the most communicative, was direct. The water-bottle capacity engine without a turbo had me wishing for more power, but this was the time when the Kwid slowly started growing on me and made me realise that you don’t need an expensive car to have bucket loads of fun. 

Once out of the ghats, the drive was more or less uneventful all the way till our lunch stop, which was on the outskirts of Mangalore, following which he headed onwards towards our next stop, Maravanthe Beach. 

But before setting off, I realised that I was missing something and that was my colleague, Shreyash, who was behind the wheel of the camera crew’s Renault Triber. With my missing person located, I was looking forward to some ‘me’ time with a solo drive in the Kwid. 

The West Coast Road from Mangalore to Maravanthe is undergoing renovation work, with multiple flyovers being constructed. With plenty of broken patches, I must appreciate the Kwid’s ride quality, which didn’t let the shocks pass through to the cabin and kept me unfazed. Soon after that, the scenery started changing for the better.

Windows down, jamming to some great Tamil songs (my mother tongue), and continued on my way to the beach passing through some beautiful backwaters of the state. Eventually, the road straightened out and as the sun was setting, I got my first glimpse of the beach and was awestruck! 

The beauty of Maravanthe beach is that one side is the beach and the other side is the Kolluru river with the road slicing through in between. The best way to do this view justice is by capturing the moments using a drone. 

After some time on the beach and with many group photos and memories captured, we headed to Murudeshwar, our next stop for the day. This holy town is known for the ‘Shri Murudeshwara Temple,’ which also hosts the second largest Shiva statue in the world. Even at night, it was a marvel to look at, but the best time to visit is during the day. 

After getting our blessings from Lord Shiva, we drove down to Gokarna, an hour away from Murudeshwar and hit the sack. 

Day 3 - Gokarna To Goa 

The next day I didn’t need an alarm clock to wake me up as we arose to chaos in the skies with thunders and heavy rains! Yes, in April when it’s supposed to be hot and sunny. Eventually, the weather turned for the better and we set off on the final leg of this adventure. 

The third day’s drive was the shortest, with just roughly around 130km to cover. I swapped out my red Kwid with the manual shifter for a white one with the AMT, an affordable and convenient powertrain combination that I wanted to try out. Truth be told, I prefer the manual as the AMT was super slow and overtakes needed as much planning as strategizing a war effort. 

The gorgeous backdrops and sceneries made it the best spot for shooting some tracking shots of these Renault cars. At the helm of the slowest car of the bunch, I decided to take charge as the camera car. Our work made such an impression on the Renault-appointed camera crew that they chose to replicate us for similar shots. 

All this camera work did delay our arrival to Goa, meaning we would miss the lunch Renault had organised for us. But this gave me the opportunity to tick off another item of my “travel experiences” list - a hearty Goan seafood thali! My quick thinking and eagerness for new food gave me a second wind, and we pushed on to the Goa border.

A quick Google search directed us to a hidden gem called ‘Padi Family Restaurant,’ taking a short detour from the highway. But boy, it was worth it, as the food was authentic, fresh and finger lickin’ good! 

Once we parked at the hotel that marked the end of my Renault drive, I murmured to both the red and white Kwids - guys, we have done it! I have successfully completed my first long road trip in this small car. 

The sprightly Renault Kwid, sort of became my home for those days. Its AC was equal to one you get at home, the audio system was good enough to jam to our beats and the touchscreen infotainment was snappy and easy to use. Combine all of this with a comfortable ride quality and a hardworking engine that can get the job done in most of the situations. There’s no way I could have predicted the heaviness in my heart when I had to return the keys to our hosts.

It’s one thing to read insightful statements while scrolling through social media, and another to experience such a lesson first hand. These few days made me realise that you don’t need a powerful car with all the bells and whistles to do a trip. All it matters is great company, great memories and taking in all the epic scenery nature has to offer!

Renault KWID Video Review

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