Renault India has been in the country for a while now, and was most famous for launching the Kwid as an India-first model that was subsequently offered to other markets. Adopting this same strategy, the company has launched the Renault Triber, which has also been rolled out first in India, and may then be sold in other global markets. With the Triber, Renault is foraying into a new segment of the Indian automotive industry in the sub four-metre category.
Auto Tech Review was invited by the company to take a drive of the Triber across the streets of south Goa, and here is the detailed review of Renault’s first new product in the largely-successful B-segment.
The Renault Triber is the company’s first model in the B-segment and has been developed on a completely-new, latest generation modular vehicle platform. The architecture of this platform has been designed to offer a high level of space for occupants, which is also flexible in nature. The engine compartment has been optimised to take the least footprint possible, thereby ensuring maximised space in the passenger compartment. In addition, the wheels have been placed at the extreme corners, leading to a wheelbase of 2,636 mm that also translates into a large cabin as well as easy access to seats in the third row. This probably makes the Renault Triber a vehicle that is most occupant-friendly and spacious, with easy-to-access and flexible seating, to exist in the sub four-metre vehicle category.
Placement of the wheels at the corners also enables better manoeuvrability, in terms of parking and driving through narrow roads and streets. This design feature along with the short tuning radius of the Triber further enhances its proposition as a city car that also offers good space.
EXTERIOR & INTERIOR DESIGN
Renault mentioned that one of the factors that it had designed the Triber to offer customers as a unique proposition is good design, in terms of the exterior and interior. The external design language provides one with clues to the fact that the Triber is definitely an offering from the Renault stable. It has a short bonnet that is curvaceous with the front façade featuring the prominent Renault logo on the three-tier front grill with chrome accents. The car comes equipped with projector headlamps and LED daytime running lights (DRL) in the front, along with split tail lamps in the shape of an eagle’s beak. Both front and rear bumpers have smooth finishes with black cladding at the bottom, and highlighted with brushed aluminium texture to resemble skid plates.
Meanwhile, the side profile of the Triber also does not feature any strong shoulder line, but rather comes with a flowy body line that begins from the bottom of the front door and converges into the tail lamps. The black cladding at the bottom of the bumpers wraps around the front and rear wheel arches respectively, providing additional cladding and a robust visual effect. The roof of the vehicle begins to arch upwards near the middle of the roof, and is flanked by roof rails at either corner that have load-bearing capabilities. The rear of the Triber is probably the least-exciting area in terms of design, featuring the Renault logo bang in the middle, followed by the vehicle’s nomenclature in bold. The car features a large hatch door, which enables a reasonably low loading bay for baggage into the boot.
The interior of the Renault Triber is a nice place to be in, with features making the car a good value proposition for the price it is offered at. All plastics are finished off in high quality, with fit and finish being noteworthy, thereby resulting in almost no rattles or squeaks whatsoever. The dashboard is finished off in dual tone of beige and black with glossy silver accents made to resemble aluminium. The dashboard has been designed with a minimalistic approach, thereby enabling a clean finish. The highlight of the dashboard is the new 8-inch infotainment system that comes with Android Auto and Apple Carplay connectivity for smartphones, besides the regular slew of multimedia integration features. The car comes with a dual-tone steering wheel that has a slightly flattened bottom and a full-digital instrument cluster. The instrument cluster has a main central display for speed, odometer reading and other real-time driving information, with the tachometer in digital format to the left. The right-side provides data on fuel level and engine temperature. A miss on the interior is the telescopic adjustment of the steering wheel, along with controls for the infotainment system.
The front seats of the Triber are deceptive as they look narrow, but once seated provide the right amount of bolstering, and keep the front passengers comfortable. However, a function that could have been integrated into the driver seat, at least is of height adjustment. The second row features seats with lesser bolstering than the front, which can be folded in 40:60 ratios, with the narrower section having the capabilities of being tumbled down with a single touch. This convenient tumble-down seat, along with the sliding function of the entire middle row, provides easy access for ingress and egress into the third row. The third row has flat seats with the least amount of cushion re-enforcement, which are surprisingly comfortable for average adults as well. There is also ample headroom in the last row, and this feature when combined with the beige interior exudes an airy feeling.
An important feature of the Renault Triber is the EasyFix Seats, which is claimed to be a first-in-industry innovation. The two seats of the third row can be individually removed completely from the car, thereby instantly transforming the Triber into a six-seater or a seven-seater. Removal of the seats needs some getting used to, after which it will be a breeze for the occupants to carry out. The car offers a boot space of 625 l in the five-seat configuration, which reduces to 320 l in the six-seat condition. The boot space available with all seven seats up is 84 l, which is very low. But that is where the load-bearing roof rails address the challenge, by offering luggage carrying capability of up to 50 kg.
The Renault Triber is powered by a new 999 cc, three-cylinder, dual VVT, petrol ‘Energy Engine’ that develops about 71 hp of power at 6,250 rpm, with peak torque of 96 Nm at 3,500 rpm. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, and is claimed to offer a fuel economy of 20 km/l. The Tribe is a car that will not really be purchased for its tremendous powertrain performance, but rather to be able to move people from one place to another comfortably. This engine offers ample power and torque to carry out this task. This is a brand new engine for the Indian market, with Renault offering this particular unit for certain models in Europe and South America.
Our drive with the Triber was limited to the back roads of south Goa, which is more relatable with city driving conditions where speeds are lower and roads are narrower or crowded. The car performs well in these driving conditions, especially since the amount of torque available from the engine is apt for driving around without too many gear changes. Highway speeds of cruising and overtaking was something that could not be tested during this drive. Additionally, we had two people at the most at any given point of the drive, for which the engine performed without any hiccup. The seven-seat configuration, which is a main feature of the Triber, when filled with occupants and their baggage may be a different story after all.
The suspension setup of the Triber features McPherson struts in front, with torsion beams at the rear. The suspension has been tuned in line with typical Indian road conditions, where most potholes and speed breakers are soaked up well by the system. The 182 mm ground clearance of the car, along with the 15-inch wheels provide further margin on roads that are worse than usual, as well as mild camping trails where this car is encouraged to go. The tuning of the suspension also ensures that the body roll is not disturbing to the occupants, with improved level of grip and handling on the road provided by the electric power steering and the 185 section tyres. The power steering feels slightly heavy for a car with a kerb weight of 947 kg, but this results in good feedback being provided from the road to the driver.
The Renault Triber has a whole list of features that make it a unique product in the price bracket that it sits in. Inside the cabin, a feature that has been developed specifically for Indian conditions is the air-conditioning. While the base RXE variant comes with front air-conditioning vents alone, all other trims feature Twin AC with dedicated vents for the second and third rows, with a common control that is independent of the first row. Controls for rear AC is placed on the rear of the centre console for reach to the second-row occupants. The vents for the second row are situated on the B-pillars, while that of the third row is installed on the roof. These AC vents help in distributing the cool air across the cabin effectively, even when ambient temperatures are high. While the overall AC system works efficiently in enabling optimum cooling of the cabin, turning on the rear air-conditioning leads to increased levels of air-flow noise.
Renault has designed the Triber to offer smart storage spaces across the cabin of the car, with dual bottle holders on each of the door pads, dual glove boxes on the dashboard and a storage space below the centre console. Both the lower glove box and the centre console storage space have the capability of being cooled as well. There are also cup holders and large storage cubby spaces on the centre console in front of the gear knob. Other comfort features in the car include engine push start-stop button, vehicle key in the form of a smart access card, reverse parking camera, 12 V sockets on three rows and auto up/down function for the driver window. A smart design feature of the Triber on the exterior is the steel wheels shod with plastic wheel caps that are extremely well-designed to mimic alloy wheels.
Safety features on the base trim of the Triber include dual front airbags, ABS and EBD, load limiter and pretensioner for driver seat alone, speed alert warning, seat belt reminder for driver and passenger, rear parking sensor and pedestrian protection. Other safety systems across the variants come in the form of speed-sensing door lock, impact-sensing door unlock and two side airbags in the front seats.
The Renault Triber was launched in late August, with prices ranging between Rs 4.95 lakh to Rs 6.49 lakh across four trim levels. It can be said that the level of flexibility and certain features that this people-carrier offers is unmatched in the under four-metre category in the industry. From a semi-joint family, to a small entrepreneur, this car ticks the right features to offer such a customer base a proposition that can be used in the city as well as when travelling together for work or fun. The company set out to achieve three USPs with the Triber – Flexibility, Looks and Affordability, and seems to have achieved them with this product.
TEXT: Naveen Arul
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay