The Triber is what Renault thinks India needs at the moment – a compact MPV that can go places. It has the practicality and seating capacity of an MPV, ruggedness and ground clearance of a crossover, yet is under four metres like a small hatchback. Small hatchbacks and MPVs are what Renault is known for worldwide, and this India specific model based on the Kwid platform has a lot going for it.
Sitting 1.7 meter wide, the Triber has a rugged look. The Renault lozenge logo sits right in the middle of the grille that straddles the headlamps. The front end has a Kwid inspired look. The overall styling is very European especially at the rear. There is a particularly interesting kink in the C pillar. And those cleverly designed roofrails may help disguise it, but you can see the roofline rising abruptly after the B pillar, to maximize headroom and give a theatrical seating to every row. There are other clever touches too. To reduce the visual bulk, the tall sides need these black elements on the doors, but to save costs, it is a vinyl sticker than an actual plastic side cladding. And these lovely 15 inch wheels that you see here may look like alloys, but are in fact, plastic wheel caps over a steel rim!
Just like the exteriors, the interiors are every bit as interesting. The dashboard feels good quality and feels more expensive than the sticker price suggests. It is a good design too with a solid European flavour. There is a band of silver trim that runs across the width below which sits the 8.0 inch infotainment system. The AC controls are chunky knobs, the starter button has a shiny bezel around it and there is a dedicated space for your cellphone. There are two glove boxes one of which is cooled and the centre console has another cavernous storage box which is also cooled. The steering wheel is the perfect size and like the rest of the dashboard, feels much better than the ones in more expensive Renaults. The all-digital gauge cluster on the other hand is trying too hard with various circular segments lighting up in white to show engine rpm, fuel, temp etc.
The front seats are comfy and are set high enough to give you a commanding view of the road. All the seats are made of good quality fabric and the colour palette used for the whole cabin is pleasant. The second row seats are set higher than the front ones. There is an adequate amount of legroom while headroom is enormous. The seat splits 60:40 and its recline can be adjusted to your comfort. There are AC vents in the B pillar and their fan speed can be controlled by a knob on the centre console. With doors that open wide and the middle row seat that can be tumbled forward with a lever, access to the last row isn’t that difficult. You do get a reasonable amount of space here too, and it is brilliant considering the car is under 4 meters long.
The rear most passengers have to make do with non-retractable seat belts and have to sit with their knees up although Renault has provided adjustable head restraints in this row. With all seats in place, the boot is just 84 litres, but you can easily take the last row out and you have 320litres. With the middle row folded down, this becomes 625 litres.
The engine is perhaps the least impressive bit in the Triber. It produces 72bhp and 96Nm, and is a development on the Kwid unit that also powers the base Clio and Dacia Sandero in other markets. It is pretty high tech on paper with dual variable valve timing and all, but the performance is rather pedestrian. It also sounds gruff when you rev it, which you have to, considering how weak it is in the midrange. It is adequate for city use, but you will struggle with full complement of passengers or on an incline. The clutch is snappy and the gearshifts feel a little vague.
The ride quality is very good as we have come to expect of Renaults. The suspension can cope with bad roads and potholes with ease. There is a good amount of suspension travel and ground clearance of 182mm makes it almost as good as a crossover. There is a hint of firmness in the ride, but it gets better with speeds. Triber rides on 185/65 R15 tyres which are better at dealing broken sections than most other hatches. The handling is acceptable, although the steering isn’t the most communicative around. It understeers a bit when pushed hard, but this isn’t a car which you drive fast anyway. Brakes feel strong enough for the car’s capabilities too.
The Triber has a lot going for it. The combination of various seat adjustments give it a lot of flexibility and the general cabin quality seems to belong to a class above. The engine and driving experience could have been better, but the Triber claws back lost points with good design, space utilization, ride quality and value. With prices starting from Rs.4.95 lakhs and going up to Rs.6.49 lakhs, the Triber is a practical alternative to a conventional hatchback.
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