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