It looks like an SUV, it feels like an SUV, it drives like an SUV, therefore it must be . . . a people mover. Aaargh, the Renault Triber is an MPV! Wait, is that a bad thing?
Ten years or so ago the MPV was the king of the suburbs. Mom would collect all the kids in the area from school in one trip. Dad could take Jimmy and a bunch of his mates fishing, or the whole family and some friends would go camping in the MPV.
The problem with the old MPVs was that they were as attractive as a municipal bus. They were stretched out in all corners to get the maximum moving volume that could legally fit within the constraints of four wheels and an engine. They were lumps with windows, oversized and underpowered, and low-slung in the most unattractive way.
So the SUV happened, or in most cases, the crossover. Suddenly mommy had the ability to fetch the kids from the Serengeti. Disclaimer: most SUVs never did anything more daring than mounting a kerb. But the SUV stood tall, and it was handsome, rugged-looking, but still very civilised to drive. Yet in the quest to be king of the macho hill, the SUV seldom offered the thing that made the MPV so popular: the ability to carry a small crowd in comfort. Those SUVs that could be huge, monstrous beasts.
So came the Triber. It can carry seven people in supreme comfort, yet it is less than four metres long. It has the same handsome lines and high stance, skid plate and roof-rails as the rest of the Renault SUV/crossover family, but it is very much geared to carry the tribe in comfort. The seating is two/three/two. Even the two foldouts in the luggage space can comfortably carry the long slab who considers himself your daughter’s boyfriend. All three rows of seats get the full benefit of the aircon and have USB charging ports. It has all the nice features you’d expect from a Renault crossover: the infotainment screen, hands-free calling and the like, as well as the safety features like ABS and rear parking sensor and the much more.
But here is the clever bit that sets the Renault Triber apart from traditional MPVs and SUVs. The Easyfix seats let you change the configuration inside the car by swapping seats for space, like taking out chairs from your lounge when you want to longarm and bringing in more chairs when the guests arrive. You start with the standard seven seats in the Triber, so that is how many people you can fit and some luggage. Only five people? Take out the back seats and now you have loads of luggage space. Take three friend surfing and you take out one of the middle row seats to create a longer space for the boards. Or take out both back rows and you have a two-seater van with massive load space.
The Renault Triber was designed specifically for the Indian market by European and Indian designers and engineers. In India running cost is paramount, so the Triber has a three-cylinder 1-litre petrol engine that gives you 53kW and a very handy 96 Nm of torque. So the Triber will not get you up to Mount Everest, but it will get you and six passengers around town or away for the weekend just fine, and at only 5.5l/100km, the MPV advantage shines through. Even if the Renault Triber looks better than any other MPV on the market and can climb a curb with the best of them.
Cars designed for India resonate in South Africa, no matter who the manufacturer. The Triber is no different. If you are looking for good looks, practical space and fantastic fuel consumption – arrange a test drive of the Renault Triber.