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Looking for your first car? We tested the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso and the Renault Kwid in our fleet thoroughly over three months. Here's all you need to know.
Numbers often tell you almost everything that you need to know in a comparison. 67bhp and 91Nm. Those are the numbers that took the Renault Kwid to the top of the sales chart in a segment it created. Our fixation with SUVs must have played a part in the cars in this segment being called micro-SUVs. When Maruti Suzuki threw its hat into the ring with the S-Presso, it was obvious who they were targeting. And they matched the Renault Kwid spec-to-spec.
A head-to-head comparison looking at the spec sheets of the two yields very little, and both cars seem to follow a template. High ground clearance? Check. 1-litre petrol engines? Check. Even a straight driving comparison seemed futile. Until, it so turned out that we have both parked in our garage.
Over the last three months that we have spent with the two in our evo India fleet, it seemed only natural to want to delve a little deeper and try and paint a more nuanced picture. And instead of the rigmarole that we usually subject our test cars to (city driving, lap of Mutha, some highway driving) we decide to do something a lot more comprehensive this time.
How easy are they on the eye?
Now this was one aspect where one car was miles ahead of the other. The Kwid is easily the more handsome of the two. The split headlamp, attractive paint job and wide, muscular face in particular are eye-catchy. The S-Presso on the other hand with its boxy, unusual design might not be to everyone’s taste and looks odd when compared to the Renault Kwid. The paint scheme and the body cladding on the Renault Kwid do their part in making the Renault Kwid a great looking car. The LED DRLs and the taillight signature are also tastefully done. When looking at the sides, the boxy shape of the S-Presso is hard to miss, whereas the Kwid follows its tried and tested form. The wheel covers on the Kwid (neither get alloys) in their gun-metal gray finish stand out as well.
Can they fit five?
The Renault Kwid with its macho, muscular face looks like the one that will have more space inside. But surprise, surprise it is the S-Presso with its tallboy (almost) design that wins this round. The S-Presso has more room on the inside, especially with plenty of head room making it more airy, and while three abreast is tight in both, the S-Presso, does have more space. The armrest for the rear seats in the Kwid is a nice touch though. The use of brighter orange accents in the back of Kwid help liven up the place while the lack of powered rear windows in the back of the S-Presso is sorely missed. When it comes to boot space, the two are evenly matched and the Kwid is slightly better with a wider boot opening.
They have to be efficient, right?
With 1-litre petrol engines, both the S-Presso and the Kwid focus on fuel efficiency more than outright performance. We put the two through a spirited run on our favourite mountain road just outside Pune and it was the S-Presso that returned a better fuel efficiency figure. With 13.3kmpl as against 12.6kmpl, the writing was on the wall. Even while driving through the city, the S-Presso regularly returned better fuel efficiency. However if you look at the claimed figures the S-Presso’s 21.7kmpl comes second to the Kwid’s 22.5kmpl.
Plenty of head toss?
Driving through our traffic ridden cities has become a hassle and that’s why both of them get the AMT transmission, and its biggest issue is the head toss when the clutch is automatically activated to slot the next gear. AMTs have gotten smoother and Maruti Suzuki is at the forefront of it. The S-Presso’s ’box shifts smoother, delivers quicker downshifts and is generally a far better performer. The Kwid, you either drive it very sedately or flat out (where it makes a whole load of noise) – drive it with a little eagerness and the gearbox gets frustrating. The Kwid's AMT is very jerky (especially at low speeds) and can get particularly annoying in traffic.
Skinny tyres means no handling?
Yes. These two understeer. Quite a bit. The steering too lacks any feel but the Kwid has better steering than the S-Presso's that is not only completely lacking in feel but has play around the dead centre and doesn’t even self-centre. Both cars hate to corner hard but the Kwid with its lower height feels a lot more reassuring going through a corner; sitting so high up in the S-Presso really amplifies the body roll and makes you nervous. The skinny tyres on both the cars are a let down though.
Soft or stiff?
The suspension on the Kwid is softly set up and is a lot more comfortable on rutted, broken city roads. The S-Presso’s firm setup makes for a more unsettled ride on everything but the smoothest of surfaces but it is more robust and that allows you to go over potholes and at speeds that the Kwid just would not be able to take. The S-Presso comes across as a lot more reassuring while going through a bad patch of road but the Kwid is definitely the more pliant of the two.
Although fairly similar on paper, in reality the cars are vastly different. The Kwid is better looking, gets a pliant suspension and more features. The S-Presso on the other hand feels better built and has a far better engine and transmission combo. Considering that this is an entry-level segment, price is a critical factor and the Kwid does offer more value. But the S-Presso’s superior powertrain gives it an edge over the Kwid making it the winner of this comparison.