Renault’s second-generation Sandero, which was launched in 2014, offered a more rounded and refined package than the locally manufactured model it replaced.
Thanks to considerably better build quality and an economical yet sprightly three-pot turbo engine, the model went from being a below-par product to something worth considering on your shortlist of options. The latest generation is fully imported from Romania and now looks and feels more complete. From the new grille and headlights with LED daytime running lights to the darkened rear tail-lights, the model has improved.
Sadly, those 16-inch wheels (or rather hubcaps) may not be the real thing, but do not look out of place and probably have a huge bearing on the vehicle’s keen pricing.
Moving inwards, there are more tangible changes, particularly in the Stepway Dynamique models we drove at the vehicle’s launch in Gauteng.
This includes a cleaner look, with the instrument cluster similar to that of the previous Megane, while the thick-rimmed steering wheel now has a Stepway motif on the bottom spoke – a nice touch.
There is also a new seven-inch touchscreen equipped with Bluetooth and navigation.
For the first time, the range comes with two Stepway derivatives, in the form of the lower-specced Expression and Dynamique.
Renault says the rationale is to afford the Stepway pseudo crossover look to a much wider audience, which I reckon holds water in a crossover-crazy market such as ours.
The Dynamique model can be specified with leather seats for an extra R10000, which livens up the cabin.
Some of the plastics used are still of the hard variety and they look more impressive than they feel. There is also a driver’s armrest, which comes in handy.
If there is a criticism of the ergonomics, it would be that the driver’s seat does not have a height adjustment and there is no footrest for your left leg when it is not doing clutch duty.
As was previously the case, the model comes with a 1.0l three-pot with 66kW and 135Nm and a five-speed manual gearbox, which offer adequate off-the-line power and respectable highway cruising.
It comes with dual airbags, ABS, EBD, hill-start assist and an electronic stability programme.
It might not have as much brand equity as the Volkswagen Polo Vivo, however Renault has managed to undercut the German maker on pricing and offers far superior performance.
The Dynamique, which sells for R189900, also comes with a two-year/30000km service plan and a five-year/150000km warranty.
It is ideal for those looking for a spacious, safe and well-priced budget hatchback.