Renault is showing a willingness to “drive the change”. The new Sandero certainly shifts up a gear from its predecessor. We tested the newcomer at its launch yesterday and found ourselves endeared by its realistic and honest nature. It’s suited to buyers wanting affordability and simplicity but with a few surprises thrown in too.

Renault Sandero Dynamique

The young look

The Sandero has a polite and pretty face. With large headlights and a wide grille, the car gives the impression of youth and flirtatiousness. New sculpted lines smooth the body’s edges, but emphasise its pronounced curves all the way to the classy rear. The interior has been upgraded with a new fascia, with noticeable chrome detailing around the dials and a tablet-like centre display. The dashboard may be slightly bland, but it is very solid and there were no rattles or shakes. The air-conditioner on our Dynamique test model worked well too. Other features include a standard radio with USB connectivity and Bluetooth compatibility and electric windows all-round but more cup holders would be nice.

Renault Sandero Dynamique

New skin and bones

The difference is significantly noticeable when driving the new Sandero – it doesn’t feel like a rickety small car anymore.  There is one engine offering; the turbocharged mill that debuted in the Clio with 66kW and 135Nm output. Because you don’t have to rev it like a madman to get anywhere, consumption stays fairly low. Although some lag is felt on take-off. Renault claims it has the best  Co2 emissions in its class with an average of 110.1g/km. Advertised consumption is 5.2l/100km and we achieved a 7.1l/100km throughout our test route which comprised city and open road driving conditions.

The Sandero provides a wonderfully smooth ride, boasting decent suspension and handling. And we think it was a good move to adopt the 900cc force-fed mill, which gives a spritely character to the Sandero. We would like comfier seats though. They are fine when tootling around the city, but on lengthier journeys you would be in want of more support.

Sandero-Engine-H4Bt-3cylinder

Biggest selling point

Renault has not compromised on safety and that will assure newly-licensed first-time car owners. The Dynamique model features anti-lock brakes and Emergency Brake Assistance (EBA) which it activates when the car detects the need for full brake force to be used without applying excessive pressure to the brake pedal.

Our favourite was the Hill Brake Assist (HBA) which conveniently helps the car stay in place when pulling off, preventing rolling backwards. The Dynamique has front side airbags and cruise control with a speed limiter.

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Competitive pricing

With all of the standard features in this fun little car, it’s surprising to believe how affordable it is. Competitors such as the Volkswagen Polo Vivo, Ford Figo and Toyota Etios go for similar, but come with less. The Renault Sandero Dynamique Turbo has a reasonable asking price of R141 500.

The Expression is R133 900, that price is inclusive of air-condition which is an optional extra on that model.  You will also pay R2500 if you want metallic paint. Also included is Renault’s famous five-year/150 000-kilometre warranty and a two-year/30 000-kilometre service plan, but you can upgrade to a full maintenance plan.

The practical city-slicker is going to endear itself to budget-conscious buyers in want of a safe, well-equipped A-to-B machine.

Andrea Hicks