2021 Renault Kiger turbo CVT road test review
When we first drove the Renault Kiger, we came away impressed enough to pick it over its sibling, the Nissan Magnite, as well as crowd favourites like the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and the Kia Sonet. But that was the turbo manual. But does the Renault Kiger continue to feel similarly well-executed when paired with the CVT?
2021 Renault Kiger turbo CVT Driving impressions
The Renault Kiger CVT uses the same Nissan-sourced Xtronic gearbox that's fitted to the Magnite, pairing with the same 1.0-litre 100PS three-cylinder turbo-petrol. And just like the Nissan, the torque output is a slight 8 Nm down on the manual version to 152 Nm.
And there are no surprises on the move. This CVT remains one of the better examples of this technology that we've experienced in recent memory. In regular use, there's no real delay between you press down on the throttle and the SUV gaining speed. This stands for situations ranging from stop-go city traffic as well as at higher, highway speeds. It's only past 4000 rpm that there's some of this delay, but that shouldn't be concerning to most Kiger buyers. This means that there's a perfectly natural flow to the CVT's operation with no jarring interruptions, enough for you to not miss the manual control this gearbox doesn't come with.
Adding to this effect are the drive modes the Kiger offers. We were surprised to find quite a large degree of differentiation between the Eco, Normal and Sport modes on offer. This is true for the manual version as well, but Renault has seemingly gone a step further to change the gearbox's shift points to suit each mode. Our pick would be the Normal mode, which feels the most natural and optimises efficiency as well as driveability. In Eco, the gearbox seems to move to the next ratio just as soon as the engine is hitting its stride while in Sport, there's quite a bit of heft to the steering without adding too much more precision and an excessively jumpy throttle pedal.
The 1.0-litre turbo-petrol feels much the same as it does in the manual. There are some vibrations at idle but these fade away quickly enough. The only real aberration we found with the Kiger's driving experience was some amount of lag from the engine most noticeable at city speeds, which the CVT can't fully mask. This is usually in situations when revs drop below 2000 rpm like slowing down for speed breakers or moving through the ratios at medium speeds. The CVT makes its peak torque a bit earlier in the rev band than the manual which doesn't let this trait linger too long. But past this, there is a consistent and usable supply of power and torque which is effective, if not as exciting as some other small turbo engines we've sampled. Expectedly, this version is a touch thirstier, returning 12.9 kmpl against the manual's 13.5 kmpl.
The Kiger CVT carries over the general traits of the CMF-A+ architecture it is based on in the way it moves along on the road. So bad bumps and potholes are ably countered with quite a solid feeling from the SUV as it goes over these patches. There is some underlying firmness that comes through over uneven roads but this is well damped and the experience is never uncomfortable. The steering feels light enough for easy use in traffic and there's good high-speed stability whether in a straight line or around bends. But we think Renault could have used a 205-section tyre like some rivals to dial out the slight nervousness we felt around slippery high-speed curves.
2021 Renault Kiger turbo CVT exterior, interior, features
The Kiger CVT looks identical to the manual, save for the X-Tronic badging on the boot. So this quite intricately butch look continues here as well. It's the same on the inside where space is generous for four adults. If anything drivers will complain of blind spots around the A and C-pillars because of the heavily stylized exterior. Rear passengers have masses of legroom and fairly supportive seats, but again a high window line and the dark interior theme takes away some of the sense of space. While most materials and touchpoints are hard plastic, expected at this price point, the general level of fit and finish and the many textures on offer don't leave much room for complaint. For a more detailed review of the Renault Kiger's looks and equipment, click here.
Commendably, Renault doesn't delete features on the top-spec automatic here to keep prices in check. So you have a good mix of creature comforts highlighted by the ambient lighting, the potent climate control system and the digital instrumentation. The infotainment is especially quick to pair your phone to the wireless Android Auto/Apple Carplay but we missed the wireless charger that would have been a great complement to this feature(it is available optionally as part of a larger pack). We would have liked to have seen a few more USB ports too.
2021 Renault Kiger turbo CVT prices, verdict
For the roughly Rs 88,000 the CVT costs over the manual, the decision is a bit of a no brainer if you don't mind the marginal fuel efficiency hit. At under Rs 10 lakh ex-showroom, the Kiger CVT offers up a smooth and stress-free experience in a compact SUV package that is as spacious and feature-loaded as anything at this price point. Add to this a well-judged ride and handling package and striking looks, and the Kiger continues to remain one of our favourites in this segment.
2021 Renault Kiger turbo CVT real-world mileage, performance
Fuel efficiency (kmpl)
Starts Rs 5.45 Lakhs
Starts Rs 6.71 Lakhs
Starts Rs 7.34 Lakhs
Starts Rs 5.59 Lakhs
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