Small Suv cars seem to be the norm these days. It seems like mostly every automaker is trying to tap this niche and some do it better than others. The focus point on this segment is supposed to be cheap and cheerful, or rather affordable…
The Kuv100 is made in India. The interior is spacious and instead of a bench front seat, we get 2 seats up front and useful storage compartment for things like keys and wallets. There is a spot of a bottle or two, but you need to balance them out. The interior is unmistakably Indian and with most cars made in India, it shows. There are hard plastics everywhere and while they are probably going to be practical down the line, they feel and look cheap. The radio on the KUV is probably the only highlight in terms of sound quality and output. It plays exceptionally loud and that was something I did not expect. The infotainment system is, however, a monochrome screen, which is easily navigated and it also doubles up as your range estimator. USB and Bluetooth telephony are standard on the K6 and k8 models.
I had a chance to spend some time with both the petrol and diesel variant and I’ve come to the conclusion, as well as every other journo before me to avoid the petrol engine at all costs. It has to be the worst 3 cylinder engines on the market. It feels totally unrefined and has a ton of vibration. It actually put me off the car completely. It needs to be driven so much harder to get up to speed and feels strained at highway speeds. It did cope better in town, but I still just could not get myself to like it. The 1198cc 3 cylinder makes a 61kw and 115nm and the latter seems to be the problem. There is just not enough thrust to pull the car along. I don’t want to think what this car would be like to drive at altitude.
The little diesel is, however, a totally different ballgame altogether. It also features an 1198cc 3 cylinder, but with a turbo and intercooler making a healthy 57kw and 190nm. That’s near 2l petrol torque like figures. This extra torque makes the car much more driveable and also feels far less strained. It actually feels fine on the highway at regular speeds and gets up to speed very quickly. The overall fuel consumption figures are claimed at near 25km/l and I’ve personally seen 20km/l plus.
While there are no official safety tests available, the KUV does have 2 airbags and abs with EBD. The K8 diesel also has ESP, but that’s as far as it goes. From a security point, central locking with alarm and baby locks are standard.
While the KUV wouldn’t be our first choice in this segment, the K8 diesel engine does have some liveliness to it that we like. I would, however, avoid the petrol engine altogether.
The K8 Petrol retails for R179 995 and the K8 Diesel for R197 995 and comes standard with a 3 year 100 000km warranty and a 3 year 50 000km service plan.