I have never felt more confidence and satisfaction when parallel parking than when I drove a Renault Kwid in Cape Town for a week over December.
The Kwid was our rental car for a 7-day holiday in the Cape this festive season, and I relished finding the busiest streets with the smallest parking spots to slide my Kwid into.
Thanks to its small size, it fit into any bay. Making the task even easier was the inclusion of a reverse camera in the car – meaning you can back up into a slot and not worry about going too deep.
Our first day with the Kwid saw us approaching parking in the way we would in our daily drivers. You go in at a reasonable pace and make sure you are not going to hit anything along the way.
After several successful entries into both straight and parallel spaces, however, we began to go in at a rate of knots.
Camps Bay or Kloof Street, any gap we found was darted into – regardless of whether it was from the front or from the back.
The narrowness of the Kwid also meant we did not have to get our entry perfect, as going shallow into a parking bay did not leave the Renault protruding into the road.
If you plan to park all over a bustling city like Cape Town during a busy period like December, I cannot think of a more suitable car.
Climbing a hill
Driving the Kwid was not all smooth parkings and overt innuendo, however.
It has a crippling weakness which was exposed in the Mother City: slight inclines.
Hills – no matter whether they were gentle slopes or steep mountain passes – were the mortal enemy of the Kwid and needed to be taken in low gears with your foot flat on the accelerator.
And by low gears I mean first or second. There were several occasions where we were in second gear going up a hill and needed to downshift to first due the Kwid slowing down.
The cause of this inability to rise to the occasions is a 1.0-litre petrol engine that produces 50kW and 91Nm.
Paired with a wallowy manual transmission and suspension made out of what feels like recycled cardboard, this leaves you working the gear stick on a regular basis on most hills.
At a starting price of R167,900, the Renault Kwid in its manual version drives exactly the way you would expect for its price tag.
The interior is nice enough for short trips around town and we even did a 100km round trip in one day with no complaints.
Yes, the body rolls around corners and it’s horribly under-powered – but if you live in a city and need to park a lot, this car is a gem.
On top of this, it has one of the most powerful air conditioning systems we have ever felt in a car. Even during the hottest days we were turning it off as our limbs began to succumb to the early stages of frostbite.
Overall, the Kwid gets an A+ for its small size and reverse camera. I have honestly never parked a car so easily in a variety of situations.
When it comes to power and speed, this is not the droid you are looking for.