For one to survive in this cut-throat taxi-hailing app business that’s controlled by sophisticated algorithms, one must have a very fuel-efficient vehicle. This reduces overhead costs and maximizes profits.
The top contenders in this segment are the Renault Kwid and Suzuki Alto. Three years ago, no one would have bothered with these tiny but practical vehicles. However, the tables have turned and now they are flying off the shelves like hot bread. Question is which, is the better buy?
In terms of looks, the Kwid takes the cake. The design language takes a leaf from the Renault design language. Its rectangular headlamps and a bold prominent front grille give the Kwid a butch look. The two-tone plastic cladding and a contoured bonnet give this hatch an SUV like appeal.
Alto’s design language has been tweaked a bit to give it a modern look. Trapezoidal headlamps now have a new reflective surface for better lighting. The grill and front bumper have all been revised plus the colour coded door mirrors give this car a fairly sophisticated look.
Renault Kwid and Suzuki Alto make great use of the space inside the car despite its size.
The dashboard is made of plastic with the highlight being the 7-inch colour touchscreen. The dashboard also houses the audio system, Bluetooth connectivity and satellite navigation system. The driver’s instrument binnacle has an all-digital display that looks futuristic in orange monochrome graphics.
Kwid drivers’ position is comfortable for even the taller and larger occupants. The space in the rear too is ample and you seldom feel uncomfortable despite the lack of legroom.
The Alto’s cabin is simple and minimalistic in design and form. The dashboard is practically designed with all the knobs and switches in the right place.
There are silver accents on the steering wheel and on the centre console along with fabric door inserts on all four doors. The centre console houses a standard radio with MP3 and auxiliary functions. Right below it is the air condition system. The front seats are average in lumbar support but the lack of a rear head restraint for rear passengers makes seating at the back a bit tedious
Engine and Performance
Under the bonnet, both cars spot 800cc powerplants, but each having a character of their own. The Kwid engines produces 40 Kw/72Nm of peak torque, while the Alto makes 36KW/69Nm of peak torque. The engine on the Kwid feels a bit gruff compared to the one on the Alto which feels smooth and refined.
In terms of fuel efficiency, they are both efficient, with the Kwid slightly edging out the Alto at 25.2km/l compared to 24.7km/l for the later.
Ride and Handling
The Kwid’s suspension is set up for the city and is high sprung to accommodate rough roads of Kenya. The Alto, on the other hand, has a slightly stiffer setup which makes the ride not as pliant as the Kwid’s at slower speeds but is far more composed at higher speeds.
In the handling department, the Alto comes off much better than the Kwid because of the way its suspension is set up. Where the Kwid sports a softer setup, the Alto’s stiffer springs help keep the body roll in check. It’s no tarmac scorcher but a fun drive nonetheless.
It’s a difficult decision to pick either but it boils down to taste and preferences. Both cars offer real value for money proposition, with local back up and service to boot.