Thursday, 18 November 2010


The Renault-Nissan alliance has worked so well that it is now the 4th biggest motor conglomerate in the world. Although Renault itself is quite a small player in the South African market, the brand is massive in Europe. They have now launched the Sandero Stepway which is branded as a Dacia in Europe. The idea behind the Stepway derivative is to offer something different in the market, something only a handful of others are offering.

In this case the Sandero Stepway’s closest rival would probably be the Volkswagen CrossPolo. That’s because it has a ride height 20mm (or 2cm) higher than a normal Sandero. Some might scoff at this, I mean 2cm is hardly a raise in height but it makes a visible difference to the driver and occupants. Also, headroom and shoulder room have been improved to further give a big car temperament. In fact luggage space can be increased to up to 1200 litres with the rear seats folded down.

There are other differentiators from normal Sandero that include a black front grille, roof rails, front and rear skid plates, a chrome tailpipe and 16-inch wheels.

In line with Renault South Africa’s recent run of form as far as packing features into a car, the Sandero Stepway comes with things like electric front windows (rear windows are still manually operated), a four-speaker sound system that’s compatible with MP3s, air conditioning, a trip computer and power steering. The car is built at the Nissan factory in Rosslyn (near Pretoria city) alongside its smaller hatchback sibling. We were assured that the quality is the same as that of its Euro counterparts, even though our version is said to be tougher due to the harshness of some of our gravel roads.

At the media launch I didn’t get a chance to take the car on gravel but on tar it drove pretty well. What it could possibly use is a stronger engine, preferably the new 1.4 tce from Renault. The fitted 1.6-litre is adequate but never really lights up a smile as far as performance. Considering the launch took place in Durban where air density is at its best, the car will surely suffer performance anxiety when it comes to driving around high-altitude places like Jozi, Nelspruit and Limpopo.

The figures read as thus: 64kW at 5500rpm and maximum torque is 128Nm achieved at 3000rpm. Its mate is a 5-speed manual gearbox and both put thrust to the front wheels. Renault says the car will sprint from 0 – 100km/h in 11.5 seconds, topping off at 175km/h. Fuel economy is quoted as 7.2 litres per 100km, and corresponding C02 emissions are 183g/km.

The price includes a three-year/45 000 km service plan, a five-year/150 000 km warranty, and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty. As is the case with the rest of the Renault model range in South Africa, the Stepway is also backed by Renault Confiance, which ensures ultimate peace of mind motoring.

The new Renault Sandero Stepway is certainly something different in its segment. But apart from the visual differences it really doesn’t give much more to the buyer than what the average Sandero does. Yet at the price one is probably getting much more car than one would buying something else.

Renault Sandero Stepway Pricing
1.6 (R149 900 incl. C02 tax)

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