I don’t own a car yet (oh, and family cars don’t count). My meager automobile journalist salary doesn’t allow me to. But, what my job does allow me to do is pretend like I own a car and I think you always remember your first one. I’m going to remember this Kwid for a long time — it was after all, my very first (pretend) car. And, considering the positioning and price of the Kwid, it is going to end up being the first car of many an aspiring Indian. So how did it do in the 6 months I had it?
The Kwid is at its best being used as a city run-about vehicle, and that is precisely why I asked the Ed if I could have it. When I did get my hands on it, I lived approximately 14km away from the office and had to go through some of Pune’s busiest roads to get there. Not fun. By car, this journey would take anywhere between 45 to 50 minutes in peak hour traffic. Bikes were obviously quicker but the last summer was brutal and I wanted air-conditioning. The Kwid cut my commute by a good 10 minutes and for all of you shrugging and wondering what the big deal is, well, that’s a whole 20% quicker! And I could still enjoy an AC and the lovely (for this price point of course) touchscreen entertainment system, and make it to work as fresh as I left home, not affected by rain.
The thing about the Kwid is that it is so tiny, that you can easily squeeze it into most gaps that you find. The small dimensions coupled with an engine that was surprisingly quick off the line, meant darting through slow-moving traffic was considerably easier. Another great thing about this tiny car is how sorted the ride quality is. It’s set up real soft and well cushioned, but it doesn’t wallow and bounce around if you go over a breaker or bump a smidge too fast.
Around February, I moved in to an apartment much closer to the office and this meant my Kwid was on luggage transport duty. I thought I was being realistic when I planned two trips up and down to move all my stuff, but the Kwid’s 300-litre boot swallowed most of it in one go! I mean, I managed to squeeze three proper suitcases filled with my belongings in there — one really big one and two smaller strollers! Not only is it large, but it’s nicely shaped allowing you to fit in some bigger bags that other cars would have trouble accommodating. Those three suitcases and a couple of cartons in the backseat contained everything I owned and I made do with taking just one trip.
There’s no denying the Kwid looks good. It has got cladding all around, SUV-ish proportions and people do notice it. Plenty of people have come up to me in traffic, telling me they’ve booked it and asking me if it was worth its money. And now my aunt — who knows absolutely nothing about cars — is quite taken by the way the car looks and wants to pick one up for my cousin once he graduates from college next year. He wants a Polo GT, but that’s another story altogether. The Kwid has been on the road for a while now and people are used to seeing it around but when it was new, the attention it received was immense!
I do have a couple of grouses with the car though. First off, the noise it makes — it is far noisier than it should be. Sure it is a three cylinder, but then so are the Altos and the Eons and they’re considerably less noisy. It is a petrol engine, but people sitting with me in the car for the first time tend to assume it is a diesel. In fact, even a fuel station attendant once asked me if I was sure I wanted to fill petrol in what sounded like a diesel car.
Another thing that really lets this car down are its highway manners. If you’ve been following my reports on the Kwid, you’d know I took it down from Pune to Bangalore a couple of months ago. And it wasn’t too much fun. The Kwid’s small engine means it takes far too long to accelerate, and being light, it gets unsettled by the wind blast from larger vehicles passing by. Add to that small wheels, skinny tyres and no ABS, and you’ve got a car that you don’t want to push too hard on the highway. Don’t get me wrong, you can take it on long distance drives and it will behave well as long as you keep the speeds around 80kmph and you aren’t looking to hustle. And as long as you keep it within city limits, you will not be complaining.
The Kwid does check all the right boxes — it is spacious, looks good, and drives well around town. For someone looking for a first car, there isn’t much reason not to recommend it. Save for the fuel economy — it returns around 15.5kmpl in the city, and this isn’t particularly great for an 800cc car.
I’m going to miss the little Kwid. It really made commuting and driving around in the city a breeze. And being my first car that I had a sense of ownership over, I’m going to miss it for a long, long time. But it is time to move on to something else. And with the monsoons looming just around the corner, I sure hope the Ed sends another car my way.
Date acquired: January 2016
Duration of test: 6 months
Total mileage: 6,971km
Mileage this month: 32km
Overall kmpl: 15.5kmpl
Costs this month: Nil