By: IOL Motoring Staff
This chucky little concept, with a face that looks like it belongs in a Cars movie, is the Renault Kwid - and it's on show for the first time right now at the Delhi Auto Show.
That makes it the first Renault concept to premiere outside Europe, underlining Renault's focus on developing markets, particularly in Asia, and the first to come with its very own ‘eye in the sky’, a remote-controlled minicopter that operates from the rotating rear section of the roof.
The Kwid was designed with input from Renault Design India, to appeal to the sub-continent's extremely tech-savvy young adults.
The very short overhangs, protective guards, chunky wings and oversized wheels are intended to make it look like a Dakar Rally buggy; the body is finished in satin grey, with textured grey for functional parts and golden yellow for the contrasting roof and air intake, as well as yellow inserts on the wheels, lower doors and perforated parts.
Yellow and grey are, of course, the Renault corporate colours but they also evoke associations with India: the grey represents the soil, while the yellow and gold symbolise flowers and spices.
According to Mishu Batra, who drew the original sketches, the interior was inspired by a bird's nest. The unusual five-seat layout has three seats in front with the driver in the middle, slightly forward for extra shoulder room, with two seats at the back.
The central driving position, says Batra, means the car can be driven in either right or left hand-drive markets.
The seats, cross-hatched in two-tone elastomer webbing, are designed specifically for hot weather, and are suspended over a solid base in white to give an impression of lightness, with the controls for the rear air conditioning on the back of the driver's seat, feeding cool air through concentric perforations.
The multimedia dashboard is actually a built-in tablet that displays all the car's instrumentation, as well as a operating all the car's infotainment functions via touchscreen controls - including the Flying Companion.
The little drone can be operated in one of two modes: automatically, using a pre-programmed flying sequence and GPS location, or manually using the dashboard tablet as a controller. It's intended for a variety of roles, including scouting traffic, finding an empty parking bay in a vast mall carpark, taking landscape pictures and detecting obstacles on the road ahead.
The Kwid is also a runner, powered by a 1.2-litre turbopetrol engine driving the front wheels through a dual-clutch transmission. There's no gearshift - that's done by swiping miniature touchscreens next to the steering wheel.
All the high-tech features actually work, including the Flying Companion, the electrically operated front bench seat on a centre rail, electrically operated doors and LED lighting.
The concept also has a plug-in socket behind the bonnet logo and built-in provision for batteries; the Kwid could be configured as either a plug-in hybrid, an extended-range electric car or a zero-emission pure electric vehicle with a minimum of design work.