This tenacious little workhorse leaves our fleet on a positive note.
The Renault Triber’s tenure in our long-term fleet has drawn to a close, and you’d need to be some sort of mutant to count on your fingers the number of shoots that this dutiful little workhorse has facilitated. It has come along on everything, from quick affairs within the city to a 1,500km round trip to the forests of northern Karnataka, and remained largely faultless through it all.
Compact dimensions, light controls and good outside visibility make driving the Triber in dense city traffic a breeze.
You wouldn’t usually find an MPV on a list of ideal city cars, but the Triber, with its compact dimensions, light controls and good outside visibility, has proven to be a breeze in dense urban surroundings. This is also where the convenience of its AMT has shone through the brightest – not having to bother with a third pedal is a real boon in Mumbai traffic.
On the more open stretches of road, though, the gearbox does fall short. The shifts aren’t the quickest or smoothest around, but the biggest issue is the fact that they’re not very intuitive either – the car will often go for a shift almost exactly when you don’t want it to, like in the middle of an overtake, for example. And it takes some learning to figure out how to play with the throttle to get the gearbox to behave the way you want it to. The wear on the clutch is also rearing its ugly head and engagement from a standstill is occasionally quite jerky.
GET A MOVE ON!: AMT’s shifts are not quick, smooth or intuitive.
When you combine the not-so-sharp gearbox with the not-so-meaty 72hp engine, the Triber’s performance levels are decidedly pedestrian, and highway cruising isn’t exactly what you’d call effortless. You’ve got to be patient when gathering speed, and even holding triple-digit speeds on the highway requires fairly large throttle inputs. In the city, too, you can’t be too opportunistic with seizing gaps, and speed is never at the forefront of the experience when driving the Triber. If you do decide to be a little stubborn and go chasing it anyway, you can expect fuel efficiency figures to plummet a little – I only saw a touch over 12kpl with my spirited driving style, which isn’t exemplary considering it’s a small 1.0-litre motor with humble output figures in a sub-1,000kg vehicle.
ROAD ROLLER: Suspension wonderfully balances ride quality and body control.
Fortunately, when you encounter a rough patch, you don’t have to shed too much of that hard-earned speed, because the suspension set-up is very adept at gobbling up the rough stuff. The effect of bumps and potholes is greatly reduced inside the cabin, and you feel well isolated from whatever is beneath. And it manages this without coming across as wallowy when you begin to push it hard, which is quite commendable.
With the addition of fancier steeds like the Kia Carens and Renault Kiger to our support car fleet, the fairly basic equipment levels on the Triber have become even more stark in contrast. The cabin feels rather spartan, the infotainment system won’t keep you entertained for very long, and the halogen headlights could definitely be better, but on the upside, the keyless operation on the Triber has proven to be a major boost to convenience.
HANDS FREE: Keyless operation adds a great deal of convenience.
As you’d imagine, a lot of shuffling of cars takes place in our parking lot, and taking the Triber along on our shoots means packing a lot of equipment into it. Being able to do these things without taking the key out of your pocket is always handy.
But being a support car on motorcycle shoots also means it becomes our only source of shelter during monsoons in remote locations. On one such occasion, a couple of us bikers had to seek refuge in the Triber during a sudden downpour, and the fabric seat covers didn’t gel too well with a pair of wet motorcyclists, and now the foul odour just won’t go away. Granted, this is a rather specific case, but it’s not uncommon to end up with a slightly wet occupant in your car during the monsoon.
MAKING A STINK: A bad odour from the fabric seat covers just won’t go away.
All in all, though, this car has been a poster child for the phrase ‘big things come in small packages’, and you can’t ask for too much more from a car at this price point. The space on the inside has been a big plus, especially considering how much baggage auto journos come with. And while it certainly won’t get your heart racing from behind the wheel, it has never shied away from any task thrown at it, nor has it faltered along the way. We bid goodbye to it with memories of a dependable, persistent little car.