Kick­ing sand

Re­nault takes the fight to com­pet­ing hatches

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN

A DECADE ago, when I was pay­ing for two Re­nault cars in my garage, the brand’s deal­ers and I were not as friendly as we are now.

Ten years later we still have one Re­nault, but we now tell all those who re­mem­ber the bad times that parts are dis­trib­uted at 95% plus rate. Pine­town’s parts price guru Mal­colm Kin­sey also has the San­dero among most com­pet­i­tively priced in SA.

Peo­ple need re­mind­ing of this, as most only re­mem­ber how the brand slipped up on lo­gis­tics and then priced it­self out of the mar­ket. But as we keep say­ing, all that is past and peo­ple who drive of­ten re­ally owe them­selves a ride in a Re­nault at least once.

Not for the sweet en­gines or di­rect han­dling, mind, but for the er­gonomics.

Only the fugly Fiat Mul­ti­pla can boast a more peo­ple-fo­cused cabin, but the Ital­ian does not of­fer as many nooks and cran­nies for all the stuff fam­i­lies travel with as a Re­nault does.

The San­dero is no ex­cep­tion, and es­pe­cially the new San­dero Step­way Plus of­fers buy­ers an en­try level model with all the but­tons in ex­actly the right places, plus fea­tures like hill start as­sist.

Safety

As a made-in-Ross­lyn, af­ford­able hatch, the San­dero was one of the five cars sub­jected to safety tests by the AA to de­ter­mine their crash­wor­thi­ness. The other cars were the Toy­ota Etios, Volk­swa­gen Polo Vivo, and Dat­sun Go+.

Seat­belt pre­ten­sion­ers en­sured a four-star win for the Etios, fol­lowed in a joint sec­ond place by the San­dero and the Polo Vivo, both with three stars for adult oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion in the frontal crash test at 64 km/h.

The San­dero’s body struc­ture was rated as sta­ble with ac­cept­able gen­eral adult oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion. As for the ba­bies, the San­dero scored four stars for child pro­tec­tion, if ISO-fix child seats are used, com­pared to the three stars for the Etios and Polo Vivo. A 292-litre luggage bay has space for the baby bags, while a split-fold­ing rear seat­back makes it easy to load big items.

Un­der the hood

A fru­gal 0.9-litre, three-cylin­der turbo petrol en­gine makes 66 kW and 135 Nm, with a fivespeed man­ual trans­mis­sion send­ing power to the front.

This small en­gine makes 90% of the torque avail­able from 1 650 rpm, which is very clever en­gi­neer­ing in­deed.

The Ex­pres­sion rides on 15inch wheels while the Step­way gets 16” dark metal flex rims.

The San­dero comes with Re­nault’s five-year or 150 000 km war­ranty to­gether with a stan­dard two-year or 30 000 km ser­vice plan. Ser­vices are at 15 000 km in­ter­vals.

A five-year or 150 000 km war­ranty and two-year or 30 000 km ser­vice plan are stan­dard.

Apart from the Volk­swa­gen Polo, com­pe­ti­tion in the R200 000 price range comes from the Ford Figo, Honda Brio, Suzuki Ig­nis.

Prices

Ex­pres­sion R171 900 Step­way Ex­pres­sion R186 900 Step­way Plus R206 900

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

San­dero stepped up the value of­fer­ing among R200 000 hatches way more in the Step­way Plus.

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