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QM3 proves to be worthy crossover

QM3 proves to be worthy crossover

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Published : 2013-12-08 19:32
Updated : 2013-12-08 19:32

Renault Samsung QM3 ― Design: ★★★☆ / Interior: ★★★★☆ / Fuel economy: ★★★★★ / Cost and A/S: ★★★★★
When Renault Samsung Motors’ sales vice president recently asked a Renault representative if he felt the pressure, he was asking if headquarters was aware of how important it was to increase the supply of the QM3 in Korea.

Fortunately for him, the answer from Ali Kassai, Renault’s head of minicars and subcompacts, was “yes.”

This short but emphatic dialogue occurred Friday, when the QM3 was unveiled in Korea for a media test drive.

It reflects RSM’s determination to keep the momentum going behind the company’s first new car since 2007.

“I wanted the headquarters to feel the heat and give us what we want, which is, after all, to sell more cars,” RSM vice president Park Dong-hoon told The Korea Herald.

The Renault headquarters are now reportedly considering a greater supply of QM3s for the Korean market.

The QM3 ― known as the “Captur” in Europe ― is manufactured in Spain and has generated high demand in Europe since it was first showcased at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

This popularity appeared to be contagious: Last month, the 1,000 units RSM was able to offer Korean customers before sales officially start in March sold out in seven minutes.

The so-called “seven-minute car” has raised concerns in both the media and RSM about whether the carmaker would be able to meet the burgeoning demand here.

Going back to the car itself, the QM3 is a quirky but sturdy-looking compact that comes in vibrant colors, both inside and out.

The main target is the modern family, comprising parents and a single child. As such, five people would be a very tight fit, but three would be more than comfortable, especially those sitting in the front, which feels as roomy as a mid-sized car.

This is mostly because the QM3 has more space between front and back wheels than any of its rivals, including Nissan’s Juke and GM Korea’s Trax.

The engine in the QM3 is Renault’s trademark 1.5 diesel engine that, after six years of fine-tuning since it was released a decade ago, officially delivers a fuel efficiency of 18.5 kilometers per liter.

In real road conditions, I was able to maintain a solid 20 kilometers per liter. This is saying a lot since I can push the car pretty hard on the road. After a whole lot of jerking about and accelerating, the gauge fell to around 15 kilometers per liter, which is still excellent.

That said, the QM3 was easy to accelerate, and I was often surprised at how fast I was going with a slight push on the pedal. The driving experience was better than the Mini from BMW.

The design is fun and engaging, but I took away a point because it vaguely reminded me of some other compact vehicles.

All in all, the QM3 seemed to be of way more worth than its thrifty 22 million won to 24 million won price tag.

By Kim Ji-hyun (jemmie@heraldcorp.com)

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