Driven: Renault Triber is practical but off the pace
Durban - If you need to move many people in as few trips as possible, you might be interested in Renault’s latest offering. The French brand, number four in the country when it comes to new car sales, is looking to cement itself as the go-to make for value-driven mobility solutions. With seven seats, but measuring less than 4m, the all-new Renault Triber is set to rock the people-mover segment thanks to its competitive pricing and creature comforts.
So what's a Triber?
The Triber brings seven-seat motoring to the masses with a starting price of R164 900. It takes the fight to the Datsun Go+, undercutting it by R8000 at the base of the range. Renault says the Triber, which is built in India, is styled to look more like an SUV than an MPV.
Not a Kwid
A Renault SA spokesperson says the Triber rides on an all-new modular platform that will be shared with another Renault model next year. It’s also powered by a new 1.0-litre Energy engine that features a high-lift cam to enable more pulling power. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder normally aspirated petrol engine produces 52kW and 96Nm. Fuel consumption is a claimed combined figure of 5.5 litres per 100km and all models are fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox.
The key USP
The big drawcard with the Triber is practicality. It offers seating for seven and numerous seating configurations – Renault says there are up to 100 variations. There are also aircon vents for all three rows. There are four basic seating modes: Camp (two-seater), Surf (four-seater), Life (five-seater) and Tribe (seven-seater).
The rear seats can also be removed when not needed. Like most compact seven-seaters, though, there isn’t much of a boot when all seven chairs are in place, but in five-seater mode it offers up to 625 litres of luggage space.
The Expression comes standard with air conditioning (with separate controls for the second row) as well as front power windows, a cooled centre console, conventional two-speaker radio with Bluetooth, remote central locking, rear park distance sensors, dual front airbags and ABS brakes.
The Dynamique adds a 20cm touch screen infotainment system with CarPlay and Android Auto, electric mirrors, under-seat drawers, an upper glove box, upgraded seat fabric and exterior roof bars. The rear occupants get power windows, an extra 12V power socket and a pair of extra speakers.
The Prestige flagship model gains a reverse camera, push-button start and front side airbags. The 14-inch covered steel wheels fitted to the lower models are replaced with 15-inch “Flex” wheels, which are designed to look like alloys. All are sold with a five-year/ 150 000km mechanical warranty and two-year/30 000km service plan. Service intervals are pegged at 15 000km.
What's it like to drive?
The Triber requires a lot of revs to keep pace with traffic. We drove the little newcomer in the KZN hills, around Tongaat and up to the Pietermatizburg Midlands last week. The car proved capable of keeping up with city traffic, but it was the highway and inclines that tripped the car up. I struggled to maintain an indicated 120km/h without having to shift between fourth and fifth gear.
Once we had turned off the highway to tackle some of the hills through the farmlands, the lack of grunt from the naturally-aspirated engine put a hamper on progress. Overtaking proved a challenge, which meant we stayed behind slow-moving trucks. Our car also had a weird quirk. Each time the car approached the red line on the rev-counter, the aircon compressor switched off. Once the revs dropped to below 4000rpm, the aircon fired up.
Is it worth buying?
If you don’t leave the city, it makes sense as a mom’s or dad’s taxi. Spec-wise, you won’t want for anything. If you want a seven-seater, this is your cheapest way to go, but if you are prepared to wait, you can have it with an automatic AMT gearbox later in the year. A turbocharged version will be available within the next 12 months.