The first impression you get from the newest Renault Sandero is that not much has changed. It is true, there aren't any drastic adjustments made to the styling, or features, or performance. Yet this car will go a long way to address one of South Africa's biggest concerns about the Renault brand to date; Maintenance costs.
For many years Renault has had a reputation of being expensive to maintain. Despite low hijack rates and some very well designed cars, this cloud hanging over the brand scares away the buyer who is apprehensive about the workings of an automobile and only those who were brave enough would dare buy one.
Sold in Europe under the Dacia brand, the Sandero checks many boxes as a near perfect starter car. It is loaded with plenty of safety features; ABS, Electronic Brake Assist (EBA), Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and enough airbags to throw a birthday party.
The convenience features are also impressive with Bluetooth a standard across the range, USB and AUX inputs, audio controls on the steering (in the usual Renault location just below the right hand), power windows in the front and remote central locking.
As a parent, if you are looking to get your youngster a car the Sandero makes sense because it is a decent size, it has enough safety features to keep your mind at ease, it is comfortable for the occupants and for the kids themselves, the Stepway looks cool in the metallic colours, even if that sets you back an extra R2,500.
The 900cc turbo charged engine, that delivers 66kW@ 5 250 rpm and 135Nm of Torque at 2500 rpm, is economical but has enough oomph to get you going. You do have to drive the car a little harder to get up to speed which adds to the fun of the smaller engine. That Renault calls it an F1 Inspired engine just add to the character of the car.
There is enough boot space for a shopping run or a holiday if you are a small family but be warned, if you have 2 young children you will battle to fit everything into a car of this size for a weekend away.
So what is this car doing to address the maintenance concerns? Well, it's not just the Sandero, but the fact that this same engine also features in the Clio and the Captur, means you will be able to find parts quicker and cheaper than before. In a conversation with the Management of Renault South Africa, I was also told that they have done a lot to make sure that their after sales service is at it's best which will further reduce costs to the consumer.
This in turn will start to add to the longevity of the car which will turn into more being on the road. The more we see on the road the more favourable a position they will hold in our minds and so the snowball effect continues as the brand strengthens.
To be honest, I am personally tired of the VW and Toyota show in South Africa. The more manufacturers push the envelope, the more the competition does which results in better cars for all of us.
Perhaps I am lumping too much responsibility on this version of the Renault Sandero. To me it is more than just a good car at a good price, it is a step in the right direction. The New Sandero is a great car at a great price. It is loaded with value for money which is what we all want.