New SUV on the block

A light steering, quick responses from the accelerator and top-of-the-range kit are a few outstanding features of the Renault Kiger

The Renault Kiger is the newest entrant into the uber-competitive compact SUV segment, sharing much of the underpinnings of its siblings. And like the Nissan Magnite, it is priced quite aggressively. So what is the Kiger like?

Up front, the chrome laced winged grille is flanked by LED DRLs with the main headlamps positioned below. From the sides, the Kiger has a SUV-coupe profile with its raked rear windscreen, tapering roofline and distinct spoiler element.

The boot lid has plenty of cuts and creases, and the rear bumper features a prominent faux skid plate and 3D, C-shaped LED tail-lamps that stand out. Rounding out its SUV looks are the 205mm ground clearance, notable body cladding, roof rails and smart 16-inch diamond-cut alloys. Inside, there is a neat dashboard packing in a number of screens that are slick to use.

It is easy to find a comfortable driving position and the seats are supportive and well-bolstered. At the rear, headroom and legroom are both great and the flat floor also makes life easier for the middle passenger. The 405-litre boot is the biggest in the segment, but the high loading lip and low boot floor do make loading heavy bags difficult.

On the equipment front, this range-topping RXZ packs in kit like LED headlamps, an Arkamys 3D sound system, automatic climate control,power folding mirrors and more, though it misses out on the all-important sunroof.

Bang for buck

Powering the Kiger are two, 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines — a naturally aspirated unit that makes 72hp and 96Nm, and the new HR10 turbo-petrol that pumps out 100hp and 160Nm. A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard, with each engine getting its own automatic gearbox (a 5-speed AMT for the naturally aspirated unit and a CVT for the turbo-petrol). We sampled the Kiger turbo-petrol manual.

Thumb the starter button and the engine comes to life, settling into a silent idle. While the unit is relatively quiet, you do feel some of the three-pot motor’s vibrations in the cabin, namely on the steering wheel and gear lever. The vibrations smoothen out once you set off and the engine builds speed with confidence even off-boost. The boost comes in at around 1,700rpm, but it does so without any of that prominent surge or spike associated with turbocharged engines. Performance stays strong until past 5,000rpm, after which it tapers off.

The turbo-petrol Kiger responds keenly to quick taps on the accelerator. There is decent low-range grunt too, but one has to be mindful to be in the right gear on inclines. The 5-speed manual gearbox has long throws and takes a bit of effort to slot but, it is precise enough. The clutch pedal is light and easy to work. The three drive modes make a noticeable difference to the Kiger’s performance, with the car feeling most responsive in Sports mode.

The Kiger has good body control and there is a good amount of grip on offer too.The steering is light at low speeds, but it requires one too many twirls lock-to-lock. That being said, the Kiger is an easy car to place and feels at home in tight city confines. The brakes lack an initial bite after which the Kiger decelerates in a linear and progressive manner. Where the Kiger feels quite average is in refinement — there is plenty of road, tyre and wind noise at high speeds.

Priced from ₹5.45 lakh (ex-showroom, India), the Kiger is the most affordable compact SUV. Not only does it undercut the entire compact SUV segment, the Kiger in this top-spec form is more affordable than some premium hatchbacks. If the demand for the Magnite is anything to go by, the Renault Kiger could just become the next big thing in the compact SUV segment.

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