Buyers' advice, Motoring News, new models, renault

Sandero Stepway Plus: SA’s ‘most affordable’ car goes upmarket

  • Renault move up with Stepway Plus
  • Still SA’s most affordable family car
  • Leads competitors with cabin comforts
2018 SANDERO PLUS. Image: Renault SA
2018 SANDERO PLUS. Image: Renault SA

RENAULT/NISSAN’S- for it’s badged as Renault but assembled in South Africa by corporate partner Nissan – Sandero hatchback crossover has greatly improved since its launch in this country way back in 2009 and is now a common sight in shopping-mall car parks, sports events and parked outside suburban gyms.

Not to mention outside schools across the country, morning and afternoon, for the daily Classroom Commute. So, the automakers decided to upgrade the fairly plain, yet distinctive, five-seaters with some extra goodies to accelerate sales beyond 50 000.

The result now is a modest (by today’s standards) family high(ish)-rider is the Sandero Plus with ECO-mode fuel-saving, front power windows, remote central locking, Bluetooth connectivity and music streaming, radio/CD/MP3 with a USB port and fingertip controls, front side crash protection bags, cruise control, rear parking radar and an on-board computer.

2018 RENAULT SANDERO PLUS. Image: Nissan SA
2018 RENAULT SANDERO PLUS. Image: Nissan SA

The automakers believe it competes with (for those in the market) the likes of VW’s Polo Vivo, Ford ‘sFigo, Toyota’s Etios, Suzuki ‘s Ignis and Hyundai’s Grand i10 and replaces the previous flagship,  Stepway Dynamique.

MORE GROUND CLEARANCE

The  Sandero Expression remains the entry level model, followed by the mid-level Stepway Expression with Stepway Plus now  leading the line-up.

Each is powered by what Renault describes as ”our F1-inspired petrol Turbo 66kW engine” but the Plus has roof spoiler, more ground clearance than the Expression, roof bars, front and rear underbody protection plates, wheel-arch mouldings and front fog lights. The wheel arches, depending on model, house, are home to 15 or 16” alloy wheel/tyre combos.

The cabin is said to have ”above-class average” floor-to-roof clearance front and back  for the maximum five occupants with 292 litres of cargo space behind, expandable by dropping one or both rear seat-backs. The cars have three stars for adult safety and four for children to make the cars, Renault says, ”the safest car in its class for children”.

2018 RENAULT SANDERO PLUS. Image: Nissan SA
2018 RENAULT SANDERO PLUS. Image: Nissan SA

Each model has  passive safety features ”beyond its class”: in addition to the front crash restraints and IsoFix anchors for child/baby seats, the Sandero claims to be the only car in its category with a three-point crash restraint for each of the three seat positions. Anti-lock brakes with automatic emergency braking can shorten stopping distance by as much as nine metres from 120km/h.

Just remember to floor the brake pedal in an emergency, Renault adds. ”Only 60% of drivers (of any brand) brake hard enough for an ABS to switch on in an emergency situation. Remember that cars with ABS, including the Sandero, have electronic stability control to allow the driver to maintain course in an emergency.

READ MORE Renault features on Carman’s Corner

The cars each have hill-start assistance (which if you can’t do means you failed you driving test!). It holds the brakes for three seconds after lifting your right foot to the accelerator.

Many of the features standard on the Sandero range are not seen in this vehicle segment. These include: front power windows, remote central locking, and ECO fuel-saving mode which, Renault explains, at the push of a button electronically modifies engine response to automatically optimise fuel consumption and correct energy-wasting driving parameters to reduce consumption and CO2 emissions by as much as 12%, depending on driving style and road conditions.

2018 RENAULT SANDERO PLUS. Image: Nissan SA
2018 RENAULT SANDERO PLUS. Image: Nissan SA

Bluetooth connectivity enables safe, convenient and hands-free telephony plus music streaming from portable devices.

TURBO STANDARD

Access to highly efficient and technologically advanced engines is no longer the reserve of expensive cars as proven by Renault’s F1-inspired three cylinder, 900cc petrol Turbo 66kW engine.

This compact new generation Turbo power plant is standard across the Sandero line-up (the only Turbo-powered model in its vehicle segment) and highly efficient thanks to its lightweight 100% aluminium (HPDC) engine block, low inertia turbo, variable valve timing, piloted variable oil pump and lifetime engine chain.

The Sandero also benefits from a host of innovative solutions transferred from Formula 1 including diamond-like carbon coatings (high tech surface treatment for engine components to reduce friction) and high tumble strategy (optimisation of engine internal aerodynamics to allow better combustion).

‘BESPOKE DESIGN, NEW BADGING’

The 66kW engine, with a manual five-speed gearbox, makes 66kW/135Nm,  0-100km/h takes 11.1sec and 169k/mh. General fuel-consumption is listed as 5.2-5.4 litres/100km, dependng on model.

The exterior of the Stepway Plus can be distinguished by its bespoke design and badging with specific two-tone 16″ flexwheel covers and two new paint colours: Dune Beige and Cosmos Blue.

In October 2009, eight months after launch, the Renault Sandero 1.6 swept the board in the B vehicle segment of Malcolm Kinsey’s annual Parts Pricing Survey, with comparative parts pricing on competitors’ models 61%-188% more expensive. The Sandero was also listed as SA’s most affordable car. among  eight competing models.

In accordance with the 2016 Malcolm Kinsey findings, Renault Sandero continues to lead its peers on servicing parts prices.

AFTERSALES WARRANTY / SERVICE PLAN

The Sandero and New Stepway Plus will be delivered with Renault’s five-year or 150 000km warranty and a two-year or 30 000km service plan. Service intervals 15 000km.

READ MORE about Suzuki SA products

…AND THE PRICES

Sandero Expression –  R171 900
Renault Stepway Expression – R186 900
Renault Stepway Plus – 206 900

Options
Leather uplholstery (Stepway Plus only) – R10 000
Metallic paint – R 2500

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