Everything Renault launches of late seems to turn to gold. The new Clio is a great example and the recently launched Duster is even better. But the French brand has now turned its eyes to the entry-level market and replaced the Sandero with a completely new offering. And what an offering it is.

On the menu of this new French cuisine is a host of new upgrades and a lot of best-in-class features. Built on the same platform as the Clio, the Sandero hatch combines little ‘big car’ portions with the latest in engine technologies to offer the South African motoring public a product that is hard to ignore.

While the previous-generation Sandero may have had a few hiccups and a rather dull design, this new beauty regains some of the elegance the brand is renowned for.

Combining youthful and modern styling, it certainly looks the part in a segment that offers aging stock. But the Sandero’s centrepiece diamond-shaped badge gracing the front of the bonnet and dominating the black grille complements its fresh façade.The integrated roof spoiler and body coloured side mirrors along with the 15-inch alloy wheels (standard on the Dynamique) hint at a sporty undertone.

But probably where the biggest technological jump can be found is under the hood, because the Sandero now utilises the same three-cylinder 900cc turbo-engine found in the new Clio. It’s an extremely smooth powerplant that proves that downsizing is the way of the future. Capable of offering a relatively sporty drive from its 66kW of power and 135Nm of torque, it can go from standstill to 100km/h in 11.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 175km/h.

Granted, it’s not going to beat any land speed records, but it will be a treat at the pumps, particularly with where the fuel price is headed. Renault claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 5.2 litres/100km and we know these figures are usually largely unattainable. However, at the launch we managed to muster up a very impressive 5.5 litres/100km while driving like a young Sebastian Vettels, making the claimed figure that much more impressive. The CO2 emissions rating is 119g/km.

After spending a decent amount of time behind the wheel, you begin to appreciate the new Sandero for what it is: a well-specced machine, built with cost and style in mind.

The drive may be slightly dull as you go through the motions sitting in traffic, but everything you need to keep you company is there.
From the Bluetooth functionality, MP3 radio with USB, air conditioning for those hot days to electric front and rear windows, the car is properly loaded - even boasting cruise control, which is unheard of in this segment. Space and practicality can’t be ignored either. Boot space is a best-in-class 292 litres while the large interior can fit four adult occupants.

Without sounding like a salesman, the Sandero isn’t lacking much, because wait, that’s not all. On the safety front it boasts ABS and EBD as well as EBA. Furthermore, ESP and hill start assist are fitted across the range, along with Isofix fasteners and driver and passenger airbags. In the higher Dynamique spec, consumers will also benefit from front side airbags.

Having jam-packed the Sandero full of the latest tech, Renault is clearly out to make a statement with this car, leaving the consumer wanting nothing extra. In such a hotly contested segment it seems like the French have done their homework, especially with such a good price proposition.

The only thing you may be found wanting is an automatic option as the five-speed manual box can get tedious to use in traffic and for the oil-burner lovers among us, perhaps a diesel derivative.

Ultimately it’s a user-friendly car, especially on the pocket of the cash-strapped consumer. While it doesn’t ooze personality or an engaging drive, for the nine-to-five work week, it’s perfect.The new Sandero comes with Renault’s industry leading 5-year/150 000km warranty completed by a standard 2-year/30 000km service plan.

Pricing:

Sandero Expression Turbo 66kW  R133 900 (including air con)
Sandero Dynamique Turbo 66kW R141 500

 

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