STEPPING UP AP­PEAR­ANCES

Re­nault’s bud­get-beat­ing hatch­back un­der­goes a mild re­vi­sion … and cuts its price

Car (South Africa) - - FEATURE - RE­NAULT SANDERO STEPWAY DYNAMIQUE 66 kw TURBO PRICE: ETA:

THE Sandero Stepway has been a great seller for Re­nault South Africa, and with good rea­son, too. This re­badged Da­cia is ex­actly what our mar­ket needs: like that Etios on page 40, it’s an ex­cel­lent value-for-money small fam­ily hatch with the req­ui­site safety fea­tures cru­cial for mod­ern traf­fic con­di­tions.

It’s the kind of win­ning for­mula you don’t want to tam­per with and, to that end, the ve­hi­cle’s mid-cy­cle re­vi­sion is par­tic­u­larly mild. Me­chan­i­cally, noth­ing has changed, with Re­nault opt­ing for some vis­ual tweaks and more sig­nif­i­cant re­vi­sions to the in­te­rior.

And that’s where we’ll start. In Dynamique trim, the Sandero Stepway now has a touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with nav­i­ga­tion as stan­dard, the front elec­tric-win­dow con­trols have been moved from the cen­tre con­sole to the doors (the cen­tral ones now con­trol the rear win­dows), and you get a new leather-trimmed, mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel.

Ex­te­rior cos­metic tweaks con­sist of new head­lamps, foglamps and grille up front, while the tail­lamps also gain a re­worked de­sign. The roof racks and wheel styles, how­ever, re­main the same. Few in num­ber these in­te­rior and ex­te­rior re­vi­sions may be, but they go some way in mak­ing the Sandero feel like a more mod­ern and so­phis­ti­cated ve­hi­cle.

Un­der the bon­net, the fa­mil­iar 0,9-litre turbo-triple petrol en­gine con­tin­ues ser­vice, de­liv­er­ing 66 kw and 135 N.m of torque to the front wheels via a fivespeed man­ual trans­mis­sion. The Stepway’s eco mode re­mains; an en­gine-man­age­ment elec­tron­ics sys­tem that Re­nault reck­ons re­sults in a 12% sav­ing in fuel.

To echo the find­ings in our Oc­to­ber 2014 road test of the pre- facelift model, this fuel-ef­fi­cient mill de­liv­ers ad­e­quate torque, but the lack of power is ev­i­dent, es­pe­cially be­low 2 000 r/min where some turbo lag lurks. The five-speed man­ual gear­box’s ra­tios still feel awk­wardly spaced, with first to third rather short, and you might find your­self near­ing the lim­iter get­ting up to speed when merg­ing onto mo­tor­ways or over­tak­ing trucks. Fourth and fifth, on the other hand, are too long and re­sult in big drop in revs and power de­liv­ery. De­spite this, the Sandero is a thor­oughly pleas­ant car to drive.

Lit­tle has been changed on the updated Sandero, but the al­ter­ations do make a dif­fer­ence. Fea­tures like sat-nav add to the Sandero’s value propo­si­tion, es­pe­cially when you con­sider that, at R189 900 with a two-year/ 30 000 km ser­vice plan, this range-top­ping Stepway Dynamique is some R5 000 cheaper than the model it re­places.

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