Renault Triber AMT | A safety companion in the new normal
Driving the Renault Triber AMT around Pune's hills
The past few months have been about putting a pause to our connection with the outdoors. Not just pausing, but completely slashing it by one hundred per cent. For so many activities that we loved carrying out in the open, we were now forced to stay within the confines of our homes and find an alternative. Want to meet your friends? Connect through a Zoom call. Want to exercise? Do it in your own balcony. Groceries? Only during fixed times. A long drive in your car? Allowed only if essential. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not whining like an irrational crackpot longing for a ‘COVID party’ or raging through the streets, swearing at the authorities for imposing restrictions. Staying indoors served the greater purpose of protecting us from this pandemic, but its impact on our lives has been incalculable.
Thankfully, after a difficult first half of 2020, things seem to be improving. The economy is breathing again and cars are finally being allowed to ply on the roads. I remember every phase of the five lockdowns we went through, but we’re so habituated to the new normal that no one seems to be following developments of the ‘unlock’ phases. It is already ‘unlock 4.0’! And that can only be a good thing. No longer do we have to be confined in our own homes and we can finally step out, even if it’s only for essential purposes. And that’s what I have been doing since the past few days with the Renault Triber AMT at my disposal as a safety companion.
Renault Triber has space for everything
Transport in the post lockdown era has veered towards personal mobility. Safety being our topmost priority, using cars for personal mobility is the best and the safest option we have currently. And that’s not likely to change in the near future. What many of us will crave when things ease up even further is a car that puts a smile on our face with premium features, practicality, and lots of space to accommodate our friends and family. A car that we can go mile munching in, to make up for all those painful days of not being able to get on the road. A car that we can look forward to driving, one that will help us erase the lockdown blues. The Renault Triber AMT fits the bill perfectly. Made in India, for the world, the Triber is tailored for Indian conditions. It is built on the modular CMF-A platform and the sub four-metre Triber offers space seen only in cars a few segments above. It offers three rows of seating to ferry seven passengers in comfort, along with a sliding middle row for freeing up additional leg room when required. The amount of space Renault has managed to free up for all three rows is the first thing you notice when you step inside, and it’s a reflection of the brand’s mastery in design. For its size, the space offered is so good that you can practice social distancing within the car while ferrying multiple people around! It’s perfectly suited for the times we live in.
Space decoded, there’s no ignoring the new automated manual transmission in the Triber that we first saw early this year when Renault unveiled it at the Auto Expo 2020. While puttering around town, completing my daily domestic checklist, one thing at a time, the characteristics of this AMT gearbox came to the fore.
The effortless AMT
As we inch towards normalcy, there’s an increasing number of vehicles plying on the roads. This makes me miss the spectacular sight of empty roads during the lockdown and I know many regular drivers who are already dreading the hassles of returning to long traffic snarls and poor driving conditions. It’s made worse by the disorderly motorists cutting through our lanes and mindlessly disrespecting general motoring etiquette. Thankfully, Renault has introduced a smart solution with the automated manual transmission that solves this problem to a fair extent. Snaking around traffic is now a breeze. The Triber AMT’s chrome-embellished gear lever nicely fits the palm and once you get going, the shifts are smooth and jerkfree. Renault has engineered this gearbox to reduce head toss, a common trait of AMTs, and the smooth gear shifts make it an effortless drive. The sensors and actuators linked with the car’s ECU perform as many as three functions for you – the system disengages the clutch, shifts the gears and engages the clutch once the shifts are done. All of this happens quickly. Not having to shift manually means you can now concentrate completely on the road and its hazards. The AMT also allows manual override and you can use the sequential mode for better control. If you are an enthusiastic driver, you can even use the manual override for engine braking, easing the pressure off the brakes and making them last longer.
Convenience and Practicality
As I tick the final few items off my checklist for the day, I simply can’t ignore the practicality and modular nature of the Triber. With a million cubby holes, storage spaces, bottle holders and two cooled compartments in here, you never have to consciously search for places to store your belongings. With all compartments full, you will still find space to squeeze in an additional bottle of hand sanitiser or an extra set of masks. Moving on to larger objects like suitcases or musical instruments, you can open up acres of room thanks to the modular nature of the seats. There are four seating configurations available. There’s a twoseater Camp Mode with the second and third row folded, opening up over 1000-litres of space, enough to shift homes. Then there’s a four-seater Surf Mode that allows folding down one seat from the second and third rows each to accommodate long objects like guitars or surf boards. And if that’s not enough, you could always use the roof rails to tie up the additional baggage. Next is the five-seater Life Mode where the third row can be folded, or removed in a jiffy. The industry-first EasyFix third row of seats can be completely removed in just a few simple steps to open up 625 litres of space. Putting them back is easy as well, taking only a few clicks. And lastly, there’s the Tribe Mode with all seven seats up, perfectly suited for a large group of friends or family. With so many options packed inside one cabin, the Renault Triber is a lesson in intelligent packaging. The seats themselves are comfortable, well-bolstered and offer good amounts of cushioning. It can be tempting to play around with the seating configurations and head out for a picnic, but it is imperative you check with the local authorities regarding permissions and restrictions in your area.
Powertrain and Ride quality
Before grabbing the last item on my checklist, I head out towards open roads in a bid to unwind from the routine humdrum and indulge in the pleasure of driving. I tune in to the melody of ‘On the road again’ from Honeysuckle Rose through Android Auto on the Triber’s large 8-inch touchscreen infotainment and soak in the scenic vistas that the hills around Pune have to offer. It’s a beautiful time to drive around. The monsoons have turned the landscape around the city into lush greenery, and breathing the fresh air allows you to be at one with nature. Rains, thick clouds, occasional rainbows and the sheer expanse of the beautiful outdoors – all things we were deprived of for so long, now lie in my unobstructed line of sight. What a strong rush of endorphins this. The BS6-compliant 1-litre petrol engine packs ample grunt to breeze past traffic and its excellent fuel efficiency and overall hassle-free maintenance means it’s perfectly suited for the Indian audience. It scores well on refinement too and you can barely hear it at idle. The roads are initially broken but the Triber’s good ride gobbles up the bumps and potholes without even a hint of being unsettled. Even the larger bumps are dealt with maturity thanks mainly to the high ground clearance that also protects the Triber’s underbody. The Triber’s ride quality will certainly keep your passengers comfortable when you drive out once the situation improves.
Thanks to press cards and special permits, the rare breed of motoring journalists, including myself, can venture out to the greater limits of the city and sometimes even beyond those limits, albeit just for for work. Not everyone has been so lucky. As we move towards the next phase of ‘unlock’, restrictions are being lifted across many cities and stepping out isn’t as difficult as it was during the three months of hardhitting lockdown. But for those who are still stuck, we have a message – there finally is light at the end of the tunnel. This drive is a mere depiction of what you can do when normalcy resumes, and what car to consider as your safety companion. Be it for grabbing a parcel from your favourite restaurant or ferrying your loved ones around, cars like the Renault Triber AMT are going to be our ultimate safety companions in a world plagued by the pandemic. But it would only be wise to stay safe, stay home and continue following all the safety and hygiene protocols to ensure that we can get back on the road as soon as possible with vigour and zest, and enjoy all the peace and adventure nature has to offer. And once things finally ease out, I would want to throw a party. Not like those irrational crackpots. But a party that would celebrate the spirit of our tribe, for staying strong through tough times, holding ourselves together and not losing hope. Nature, finally checked off the list. “Ok Google, take me home.”