BEHIND THE WHEEL: For Sh1 million, your chances of?getting a new Kwid are very slim

Tuesday September 27 2016

The Renault Kwid does not have very impressive

The Renault Kwid does not have very impressive safety ratings. PHOTO| DIANA NGILA 

Hello Baraza,?

I have never owned a car but am looking to buy one.? Please advise me because I have thought of going for a Renault Kwid, the newly introduced brand.? However, I am concerned about the safety, considering the rating given to this brand. What other options do I have within that price range.



Hello Charles,

At that price range your options for a brand new car are severely limited. It’s the Kwid or the Maruti (whose current state of production I am unsure of), and which is a van. I don’t think they make or sell the hatchback any more. There might or might not be a Suzuki Samurai, which might or might not cost more than a Kwid. All these cars are at least 30 years old under the skin (except the Kwid), and just like the Kwid, they all suck when it comes to safety ratings.

Then there is the Mobius: build Kenya, buy Kenyan. While the rest might have poor safety ratings? — zero stars out of five, actually — it seems our very own box car has no safety rating at all. Nobody has tested it, and if anyone claims they have, let them tell us which other cars they also tested as a yardstick and how the Mobius measures up against this standard. In fact, they can even test it against a Kwid. It is built as simplistically as imaginable, using the most rudimentary of automotive tenets. This is not an S Class and do not expect to find any ground-breaking technology on it.

Fans will call it rugged, but how rugged is it? They claim it will work well off-road, but this is flying in the face of the lack of 4WD, a low-range gearbox or diff locks, so I’m not sure how that works. They say it is ideal for rural operations; well, so is a second-hand Escudo. There is really? not much to say about it besides the fact that there actually exists a Kenyan car (with a European engine); and it would be at least reasonable if it were literally very cheap, but then again, it isn’t. First quotes hovered around the Sh600,000 mark (enough to buy a first generation V6 Vitara with almost Sh200,000 left over to play with), then steadily rose to somewhere near a million, which can net you a J90 Prado if you look hard enough. The Prado is faster, more comfortable, better built, more capable and can carry more people and/or stuff. Plus, rollover possibilities aside, it is safer; I mean it has airbags. The Mobius doesn’t. The Prado comes with a powerful, reliable turbocharged diesel engine, the Mobius probably has the engine from whatever I could afford back when I didn’t have a job. If the Mobius actually costs Sh 1 million, then that is probably too much by half. I’m not even sure of the price because the few individuals who have any semblance of connection to the company treat my inquiries like the makings of a hatchet job (which this might look like) and react accordingly.

So, for the grand sum of Sh1,234,567 — which is what the Kwid costs — you might have to opt for the lesser of two evils and ditch your patriotism.

I have always lobbied for the control of the import market so as to boost sales of brand new cars but this is one instance where I’ll ask you to get an import, because for that money, anything you buy brand new is most likely junk.

Hi Baraza,

I am an ardent fan of your column. I own a Nissan sunny B15. The problem is the braking system; whenever I apply emergency brakes at high speed, the front wheels screech but the car doesn’t stop. I guess only the front wheels brake, but when I am driving slower than 60kmph, the brakes are perfect. I have consulted different mechanics, some of whom have advised me to uninstall the ABS system and go the manual way.

Is it advisable to remove the ABS, or what could be wrong with the braking system. I am a medic and love speeding. Munyua P.N


Ah, so you are a medic who loves speeding? Does your car moonlight as an ambulance or what is the speeding all about? In a B15, no less?

Screeching tyres are a sign of ABS malfunction, though again it might not necessarily be the ABS itself. There is another system called electronic brake force distribution (EBD) that is absent in a vast majority of low-tier cars such as your B15. Since you have no EBD,? perhaps the brake balance too needs checking. How are the tyre pressures all round? Is there a large differential between them, front to back, side to side? How is the tread wear? Is one or more tyres worn out significantly compared to the rest? Wheel alignment? Is it on point?

You could deactivate/disengage the ABS but you better know? what and how trailbraking works. Alternatively, drive less aggressively; you won’t need to brake to the point where the tyres lock up.


Hi Baraza,

I recently bought a 2002 Toyota Noah AZR60 model. I find it thirsty, especially having moved from a Honda Airwave. What are the typical urban/highway consumption? levels? What special care should I give the D4 engine that everyone is scared of?



How thirsty is thirsty? What figures are you getting? This might be a case of unrealistic expectations on your part.

As for that D4 engine, service it on time, using the right oil and use good, clean fuel, with the occasional dash of V Power to clean the injectors and prevent carbon build-up, which is a? problem likelyto be faced with a direct injection engine.



Just wanted to share something on this. No, the gas (its correct name is CNG) is not bought in cylinders and kept at home, but is either brought by trucks like petrol or diesel, or is piped. CNG is common in East Asian economies that have big petro industries like China, Indonesia, Thailand and India. I will endeavor to send you some pics of the fuelling equipment.

?Otherwise, I love your column.

?Kariuki Ndung’u


I don’t know much about piped gas in East Asia, but I do know it is quite a big deal in Europe, which is why Russia has such clout because it essentially controls the flow and supplies, and might? be why it is so touchy about the Crimean Peninsula. I think I might be a bit off my element here, but thanks for the info.

Include a small write-up to go with the photos; it will be of great help in my research.


Dear Baraza,

1. I have a Toyota Townace which, when it reaches 70kph, starts vibrating from the propeller shaft and a loud noise comes from the differential unit. Does this mean the entire transmission unit will have to be replaced or what can be done to remedy this?

2. Do we still have vehicles being manufactured that are air cooled instead of water cooled like the old VW beetles?

David K


1. Replacement of the entire transmission is not necessary. Either you need new oil in the diff or some of the bits (joints mostly) need readjustment/tightening.

2. I hardly think so. The last of the air-cooled greats was the 993-generation Porsche 911, which went out of production somewhere around 1998. The only motorised vehicles left that are still air-cooled are powered bicycles and rickshaws – motorbikes and tuk-tuks, respectively.


Hi Baraza,

I recently attended a car show dubbed Time Trail (TT) Masinga and noticed that the Golf GTI was quite a fast car. I plan to buy one in a few months’ time. The car picked up quickly but lost speed, making the Evo or Subaru superior over a mile. Is this because the VW GTi is 2-wheel drive and not 4-wheel drive and what is the effect of having a 4-wheel drive car when it comes to drag racing.?


Well, well, well, welcome to the little fiefdom in the realm of motorsports through which my sphere of influence extends: Time Trial Motorsports, aka the famous TT. You say you were in Masinga, huh? How did you like the gymkhana track (if you saw it)?

The GTI is fast, but (cough, cough...) not Evo-fast or STi-fast. It’s actually a nice little car except for the minor fact that one tried to mow down my lawyer and I (we were supervising the race) by way of an ignominious display on how not to enter a corner, manifest as several yards of understeer, screeching tyres, black lines, displaced cones, ripped tarmac and the panicky escape of two young men who were not ready to die yet. Talk about perpendicular vehicular homicide! Now I don’t like them: that’s a personal, not professional, view.

The drag strip was exactly a quarter-mile long? — 402 metres — so I don’t know where you got? your mile from. There are some reasons why a GTI would most likely not outrun a Subaru or an Evo and here they are:

1. Platform: the GTI is what we call FF (Front-engine, Front-wheel drive). On launch in any given car, the nose lifts as the weight is thrown backwards, which means traction loss at the front axle is real. Wheelspin ensues and continues all the way down if you have the power and torque to keep the rubbers spinning. There was a Jetta that suffered this. With a RWD car, there is power at the rear axle, which has been pressed down, maximising traction. What you get is a near perfect take-off off the line. With AWD/4WD cars, this could also apply, except for the fact that revving hard and dumping the clutch will lead to one of two things: you would either light up all four tyres if they’re skinny, or you’ll lunch your transmission, particularly the clutch.

WWith the Evo, it’s your transfer case that is at risk. If the transmission is strong enough, there is still the chance of bogging down if the torque is not extremely high, because the load created by the grip on all four tyres is also a massive one. The trick? Ease the car off the line first before flooring it. That might explain what you saw as the GTI “picking quickly before losing speed”.

2. Output: a stock GTI does what,? 200hp? Compare this to the Japanese saloons (wagons where applicable), which come with 280hp or more straight from the factory. Sure, some of those Golfs had tunes, maps and fettles to push the power up, but then again, you don’t think the JDM representatives just sat there and let themselves be beaten by some German hatch, did you? They too had mods. And they had a starting point much farther ahead of the Golf. Advantage: Japan.

3. Transmission ratios: the countries of providence of these two cars speak a lot about their build bias. Germany is home to the Autobahn and the land of the 200mph (320km/h) highway. As such, they do tend to make cars ideal for high-speed cruising, which usually comes at the expense of acceleration. If my track had been? exactly a mile long —1609.3 meters — then perhaps the Golf mighthave redeemed itself, or maybe not, because of the Japanese pair.

The Evo and the STi were spawned in the high-octane world of rallying, and it shows. Acceleration rather than top speed is the primary focus, which means off the line, the two would slingshot for the hills while the Golf is still trying to build enough revs to go into second gear.

However, once speeds of 180-200 are reached, the two Japanese cars have already done most of their best work, and this is now where German cars start to show their mettle.


Hi JM,

Still an avid follower of your column. In this age of many aftermarket rims being sold in Kenya, are there any particular aspects of importance that need to be checked before a purchase?


Actually, yes. Use the Internet to do a background check on the particular rim you are buying as well as the history of the manufacturer. There is a tendency for rims to bend, crack or shatter under hard use, especially when off-roading. Eschew those that seem to have a higher incidence of brittleness.



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