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2021 Renault Kiger Review: Power of 10!


With all types of very capable offerings already on sale in the sub-4m segment, how does Renault’s Kiger plan to stand out?

When it comes to sub-4-metre SUVs everything's been said and done. The usual slew of adjectives - sporty, premium, rugged - have all been worn down. After all, today there are nine very capable options to choose from.

Actually, the arrival of the Renault Kiger rounds that off nicely to 10. Does the car that completes the set, and also has the advantage of having watched the others for the longest, come across as the complete sub-4-metre SUV? If it is, what makes it complete? Let's check out ten things that should tell us exactly that.

Price

With the Kiger’s introductory prices starting from Rs 5.45 lakh for the base petrol and going up to Rs 9.55 lakh for the turbo petrol with the CVT, it undercuts its rivals--well, except for its platform sibling, the Nissan Magnite--by lakhs of rupees. Still, on the price front the Kiger is a complete winner.

Variant

Petrol-MT

Petrol-AMT

Turbo-Petrol MT

Turbo-Petrol CVT

RXE

Rs 5.45 lakh

-

-

-

RXL

Rs 6.14 lakh

Rs 6.59 lakh

Rs 7.14 lakh

-

RXT

Rs 6.60 lakh

Rs 7.05 lakh

Rs 7.60 lakh

Rs 8.60 lakh

RXZ

Rs 7.55 lakh

Rs 8 lakh

Rs 8.55 lakh

Rs 9.55 lakh

Design 

There are three things that will strike you about the Kiger. First, the family look. Yes, in pictures you may think it looks just like the Kwid. On the flip side it can also be said that Renault has created a cohesive family look that works on all sizes of cars. Which brings me to the second point: The Kiger looks beefy! It is not the biggest SUV in the segment, but thanks to all these clever creases and blacked out sections the face looks wide and upright. Viewed from the side the light-catching lines at the lower edges of the door give it strength. The chunky roof rails and the 205 mm of ground clearance make it's SUV cred pretty discernible too. 

And lastly, it looks sporty, especially from the rear. The way the roof line sweeps downwards and leads to that dramatically styled spoiler looks awesome. Like the tail of a canoe the lines tighten and narrow on the tailgate of the Kiger too, giving it a soft but stylish look. At the same time chunky C-shaped tail lamps, which seem to have come straight from the concept car,  give it an angular look. A nice touch here is the way the reversing camera has been integrated into the Renault logo at the rear. The wow quotient of this Renault will be higher for buyers as Renault is offering dual tone options right from the base variant.

Wow stuff outside

The Kiger is offering those handsome LED tail lamps as standard, but the cool LED headlamps and the diamond-cut 16” alloy wheels are available only on the top end RXZ variant.

If you are looking for more Renault has 5 accessory packs to choose from. Of the five - Smart+Pack, Smart Pack, Essential Pack, Attractive Pack and SUV Pack - it is the last two that bump up the exterior appeal. The Attractive pack adds chrome garnishes; the SUV pack adds a silver front skid plate, replaces the side stickers with proper cladding and even adds cladding on the rear trunk. That certainly helps complete the Kiger’s SUV appeal.That aside you can get front parking sensors and puddle lamps too. Strangely though, fog lamps are not available even as an accessory.

Cabin design 

Quite simply, it is familiar. The dash design is simple and clean, much like the Triber. The way the infotainment screen and the rotary air-con controls are laid out makes them easy to use even on the go. What gives the cabin a bit of the upmarket feel is the LED elements nested in the controls to show the air-con setting, the floating infotainment screen and the tambour door for the storage between the front seats on this top end variant. The texture for the door pad and the soft finish even on the arm rest is welcome too.

I know at this price point we shouldn’t really be complaining, but the interior feels a bit dull and colourless compared to the design on the outside. Richer materials too would make the experience better--for instance the handsome steering wheel only gets a patch of leather at the 12 o’clock position for the coveted “leather-wrapped” tag. Even the plastics use good textures, however they don’t look quite as glossy and rich as the ones on the similarly simple cabin of the Hyundai Venue. There are some ergonomic grumbles too: the power window switches for the driver are too close to the driver, and the seat belt socket is tucked too close to the armrest and placed low, which means reaching them requires some effort and learning.

Wow Stuff on the Inside?

A standout feature on the Kiger is the possibility to choose from Eco, Normal and Sport drive modes. This feature is available on the top trim for both engines and transmission options. Cool! We talk about these and the beautifully executed 7” driver display when we get down to driving. But suffice to say, the driver’s display layout changes according to the mode you are in.

There are simple and clever touches from Renault, like the ambient lighting that’s activated by a switch next to the gear lever. The splash of light on the phone tray and the grab handles on the door are subtle and handy. However, a few lighting elements for the rear would have been good too. The Kiger also gets automatic climate control and an Arkamys 4-speaker, 4-tweeter audio setup that is loud and punchy. It is linked to an 8” touchscreen that gets wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay!

But for the truly wireless experience you need a wireless charging pad which is available as an accessory. Also included in the accessory pack are features such as a smart air purifier, ambient lighting, puddle lamps, front parking sensors, trunk light, armrest console organzier and a 3D floor mat.

But what keeps the Kiger from becoming complete on the wow front are the missing features. While we won’t complain about the lack of connected car tech, there are some popular features like an auto-dimming IRVM, ventilated seats, cruise control, 360 degree camera and a sunroof that’s missing altogether.

Safety features

 

RXE

RXL

RXT

RXZ

ABS & EBD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Rear Parking Sensor

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Driver & Passenger Airbag 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Side Airbags

No

No 

Yes 

Yes

ISOFIX

No

No

ISOFIX

ISOFIX

Adjustable Headrests - Rear

No

No

Yes

Yes

Front Parking Sensor

Accessory

Accessory 

Accessory

Accessory 

The Kiger has ABS and EBD, two airbags and rear parking sensors as standard. Two additional (side airbags) are available in the top two variants, which give it an edge over most other offerings at this price point. Keep in mind that most new drivers will need a reversing camera on the Kiger because the view out of the high and slim rear windscreen is very limited. While front parking sensors are available as an accessory, there are some strange misses on the Kiger--for instance, pretensioners and load limiter seatbelts are only available for the driver even on the top end variant. This is at odds with its platform sibling, the Nissan Magnite, which also offers a tyre pressure monitoring system on its top end variant. The absence of hill hold assist, traction control or ESC on the turbo variants of the Kiger, when compared to the Magnite, keeps it from feeling like a more complete package despite the extra airbags.

 

Renault Kiger

Nissan Magnite

TPMS

No

XV Premium

Hill Start Assist

No

Turbo Only 

Vehicle Dynamic Control

No

Turbo Only

Traction Control System

No

Turbo Only 

Seatbelts with pretensioner and load limiter

Driver Only

Driver and Passenger

Airbags

4

2

Passenger Space

The Kiger is a genuine family car. Renault squeezed out every millimeter of room that the cabin had to offer. The rear seat is a happy place to be, even if you are six feet tall or thereabout. There’s ample kneeroom (even when you’re sat behind another six footer) and the raised front seats give you space to tuck your feet under. Headroom is plenty and underthigh support is spot on too.

If you intend on travelling three abreast at the rear, the Kiger is happy to comply. While occupants will brush shoulders, they wouldn’t be smooshed. The flat floor ensures the middle seat occupant isn’t uncomfortable.

Here’s where the Kiger’s dark cabin comes back to haunt. Mixed with a high window line and a small window that doesn’t roll all the way down the Kiger doesn’t fully deliver on the sense of space you’d want.

Luggage Space

Renault claims the Kiger gets 29.1 litres of in-cabin storage. That’s split between the two glove boxes on the dash, 1-litre bottle holders in all doors and a giant storage bin under the front armrest. Hat tip: buy the armrest organizer accessory. You’ll need it to make full use of the space on offer. Without it, the Kiger doesn’t have a single cup holder at the front.

As far as luggage goes, there’s plenty of room in the 405-litre boot. The rear seats get a handy 60:40 split function too. The boot is uniquely shaped in the sense that it’s deep but not wide. That translates to a high loading lip and effectively into extra effort to store and remove heavy bags. Renault has a handy boot floor organizer as an accessory too. This gives the Kiger a false floor that sits in line with the seats when folded flat. You get modular compartments under this floor to store smaller items.

Fun to drive?

The Kiger is available with three-cylinder petrol engines only; however, there are options available for those on a budget and those looking for a more plush experience. There’s a 1.0-litre naturally aspirated motor, available with a 5-speed manual or an AMT (automated manual transmission) which isn’t offered on the Magnite. Just like the Magnite, the Kiger also has a turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol that makes 100PS which is offered with a 5 speed manual or a CVT. This automatic transmission technology offers superior refinement and fuel efficiency too. Sadly, this combination wasn’t available for our test drive.

Specifications

Engine

1.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol

1.0-litre turbocharged petrol

Power

72PS

100PS

Torque

96Nm

160Nm/152Nm

Transmission

5MT/AMT

5MT/CVT

Instead, we had only the turbo-petrol with the manual transmission to sample. This engine has just the kind of attitude to make itself useful at city speeds, by being responsive at low revs. Then it has the punch as the revs climb to make quick progress on the highway or to haul a full load. So if you are travelling light and want to zoom around, the Kiger has the get up and go. Is it a hot head? Nope. Is it game for some fun? Sure!

What makes it feel more exciting is the choice of drive modes. These adjust the steering weight and throttle response. There was a distinct difference between the modes, with relaxed throttle response in Eco making low speed driving smoother still; while the urgency in Sport mode forces you to be smoother with the throttle!

The steering weight though feels unnecessarily heavy in Sport mode and the lighter feel for the steering in Normal mode is better in our books. On the automatic variants the drive modes would also change the gearbox logic so that it would be more efficient or more responsive depending on the chosen mode.

The modes also affect the 7-inch MID, changing the layout and colour schemes, and also offering different widgets. Normal mode shows you the real time fuel consumption, whereas the Sport mode adds a gimmicky and incomprehensible G-meter and a power and torque output graph. The latter is cool!

On the whole the combination of sensible and exciting makes the Kiger feel pretty complete. However, we do wish a bit more refinement by way of better cabin insulation to keep the three-cylinder thrum and pulse out of the cabin, or smoother gearshifts would lift this experience. Seriously.

SUV Quotient 

As a Renault, and as the Duster’s sibling, our expectations from the Kiger are skyhigh. When it comes to rough roads the Kiger pretty much aced it on the test drive. As expected the Renault smacked its lips as it tackled potholes and unpaved paths. The beauty of the setup is in the way it stays composed at higher speeds over the rough stuff while staying pliant even at low speeds. Which means it will keep you nice and comfy even at low speeds in the city.

However, if you take the Sport quotient in the SUV very seriously, you will find that the lack of feel and feedback from the steering makes it feel pretty unconnected. But the Kiger is a very sure-footed machine with grip that belies its 195/60 R16 rubber, holding a clean line even when provoked by an uncouth hand. Although the brakes don’t feel sharp when tapped lightly, they are strong and sheds speed efficiently when prodded. So the SUV quotient for a sub-4m SUV feels very well rounded indeed.

Verdict 

So, is the Renault Kiger the complete sub-4 metre SUV? Well for that, it would need a bigger helping of premiumness. A bit more of richness inside the cabin, be it in terms of the colours or the quality of materials in use or the feature list. A bit more of refinement by way of sound insulation would help it immensely too. However, if you are looking for a properly spacious, family-friendly, rough road-loving and peppy sub-4 metre SUV at an affordable price tag, then the Renault Kiger will feel like quite a complete SUV to you.

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