The newly-launched, entirely new Clio-based Renault Sandero is lining up to take on the toughest fighters in the budget B-segment and this time round it is not going to be easily fobbed off because it is now armed with enough specification ammunition to out-shoot even the long-standing favourites.
Lining up to take on the toughest fighters in the budget B-segment.
The smart new Sandero pikkie comes to the market in two guises - the entry-level Expression and the smarter Dynamique and although the Expression is slightly more expensive than the likes of VW Polo Vivo 1.4 Base, Ford Figo 1.4 Ambiente, Toyota Etios, Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto 1.0 LX, Chevrolet Spark 1.2L and the Honda Brio 1.2 Trend, the Renault's tiny 898cc engine kicks out more torque than any of them.
Its 66kW is superior to all except the Etios and it beats them on the fuel consumption and emission fronts. It is also the only baby car in this segment that can brag with Electronic Brake Assists (EBA), Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Anti-Skid Regulation (ASR), front airbags for driver and passenger, and central rear 3-point safety belt.
The more expensive Dynamique Sandero also beats its opponents in 11 categories.
When it comes to cabin fancies the Renault comes standard with radio fingertip controls, Bluetooth connectivity and Eco mode and it also has the biggest boot. Its five-year/150,000km warranty is matched by only the Hyundai i10 and only the Honda Brio and the Toyota Etios match its two-year/30,000km service plan.
You need to keep the revs up
The more expensive Dynamique Sandero also beats its opponents in 11 categories varying from fuel consumption and emissions to power and torque.
The Renault has the biggest boot.
I drove both versions at the local media launch both in bumper-to-bumper central city conditions and out on quiet, winding back roads where we could test its responses under the whip. disappointingly, its on-the-road go was a bit of a let-down after high paper promises. The small turbo engine has to be fed a constant diet of high revs to assure optimum performance and that of course is going to blow the claimed fuel consumption figures away.
However, driving at a more sedate pace (like most day-today commuters would do) the Sandero didn't lag in traffic and it trotted along quite happily at legal cruising speeds - although with four or five aboard, plus a load in the boot, it might sing a less enthusiastic tune.
When it comes to cabin fancies the Renault comes standard with radio fingertip controls, Bluetooth connectivity and Eco mode.
Typical of Renault the little car holds the road remarkably well and it can be flung through the twisties quite enthusiastically without any sign of skittishness. Power is put down on the tar via the front wheels and the five-speed manual shift is well-spaced and slick.
Small but solid
For a small car, it feels remarkably solid and this is emphasised by the good quality feel of the cabin, smartly finished in the obligatory black with shiny silver trim that has virtually become the standard dress code in most new cars.
For a small car, it feels remarkably solid and this is emphasised by the good quality feel of the cabin.
Unlike quite a few French and Italian cars, the seating is comfortable enough for long journeys and the living quarters are well insulated. The steering is height adjustable and even my tall co-driver found it easy to find a comfortable driving position.
Little touches that add to driving pleasure include electric front windows, the multi-media audio system, electric mirrors and good all-round visibility.
Snazzy, with appeal
With the exception of the engine, which some might find a bit sleepy, the snazzy new Sandero has a lot to offer and it is likely to appeal to a wide cross-section of the market. Price-wise it certainly makes a strong case. Its quality feel will be appreciated by the more mature end of the market yet it also has more than enough style and cocky looks to attract younger buyers from both Venus and Mars.
Quite the looker.
Good, solid, reliable players such as the Vivo, Figo, Spark, Brio and Picanto are well-entrenched with reputations and track histories to match but this time round Renault steps into the ring as a worthy contender, difficult to ignore.
Footnote: Many vehicle prices are set to increase prices in April so the prices below are the launch prices as provided by Renault SA during the second week of March.
Bizcommunity.com motoring editor Henrie Geyser () has worked as a journalist in Cape Town, London and Windhoek for the Argus Company (now Independent Newspapers) and spent 12 years at The Cape Argus in Cape Town. He then owned and ran a public relations consultancy for 13 years. He joined the online publishing industry through iafrica.com, where he worked for five years as news editor and editor. He now freelances for a variety of print and online publications, on the subjects of cars, food and travel, among others; and is a member of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.
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