FIRST DRIVE | New Renault Triber offers plenty of space, but breathless performance
The Renault Kwid lacks shine in certain areas, but remains a sales-chart sensation. This week, the French manufacturer launched the Triber, a more practical variation of its hatchback counterpart. We attended the launch in KwaZulu-Natal.
It joins the expanding range of affordable seven-seat, multipurpose vehicles. Think Toyota Avanza, Honda BR-V and Suzuki Ertiga. Mitsubishi is likely to launch its Xpander this year. It is a segment not known for appealing aesthetics, with appliance-like functionality eclipsing design panache. Inoffensive to the eye and with strong familial cues, the Triber exudes aspirations of a sport-utility vehicle. This is evident in the addition of rugged cladding, skid plates and slightly flared fenders. Its front end echoes more than a hint of resemblance to the Sandero Stepway.
The result is an overall styling package that is quite agreeable. But spaciousness is the more important merit — and the reason consumers are going to eye the Triber. It offers three rows of seating. The third row can be removed. The second row has slide-and-recline functionality. With the third row folded, luggage space is an impressive 625l. Renault reminded us that it beats the Suzuki Ertiga, as it has a capacity of 550l. Meanwhile, the BR-V boasts 691l and the Avanza 899l. Independent air-conditioning controls are available for passengers in the second and third rows.
The interior design features a dual-tone trim, with silver accents on the infotainment binnacle. Android Auto compatibility and a reverse camera are included. While the steering wheel does adjust for reach and rake, satellite audio controls were omitted in the base Expression model we drove. It would have been a welcome feature in my view. Storage space in the front section of the cabin is ample. This includes a cold-storage facility in the centre console and lower glove box, a handy offering given that it is a car squared at families.
Will it keep said families safe? Anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags are standard across the range. The top-specification Prestige model gains side airbags. There is no Global NCAP crash test rating for the model yet.
One engine and transmission combination can be had: a 1.0-litre, naturally aspirated engine with three cylinders producing 52kW and 96Nm, with a five-speed manual. There was frustration on our route from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. The Triber struggled on the steeps and ran out of breath, necessitating frequent downshifts.
This does not leave much confidence in prospects when all seven seats are occupied. Fuel efficiency was great, however, as we managed 5.6l/100km. Renault said it aims to be the best manufacturer in this regard, referencing its victory in the 2019 WesBank Fuel Economy Tour.
The price might serve as a bandage to some of the Triber’s wounds. At R164,900 for the entry-level car to R174,00 for the Dynamique and R189,900 for the high-level Prestige, it is the most affordable of its competitors, which kick off well more than the R200,000 mark.
A standard two-year/30,000km service plan, as well as a five-year/150,000km mechanical warranty and six-year anti-corrosion warranty are thrown in.