This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here probably applies to the models you can get at home.
*To read one of our road tests, just select from the menu on the left.*Please remember too, that prices quoted were those ruling on the days I wrote the stories.
Renault’s Sandero, built at the Nissan plant near Pretoria, in Brazil and Argentina, at Dacia’s Pilesti plant in Romania and coming soon to a Mahindra factory in India, is part of the company’s worldwide assault on the affordable end of the car market
If you think it looks “kinda like” Logan, bears some resemblance to Nissan Tiida, with hints of Clio, you are quite correct. It is built on the alliance’s B0 platform and is powered, in SA at any rate, by a choice of 1400 cc and 1600 cc 8-valve engines.
The basic 1400, priced at R98 800, is very basic in its equipment levels as well. If you want air conditioning, power windows and pretty much anything else, you will have to look to a higher specification level.
The car under review is the range-topping 1,6 Dynamique priced at R149 800 and while it is considerably better equipped than the 1400, there are still certain toys we have come to take for granted, but didn’t find.
Not everyone will miss these, so let’s deal with them and move on. The steering wheel does not adjust for height or reach. At 1,85 metres, I found the tops of the instruments obscured, but did not miss the telescoping feature. There is no provision for adjusting headlight elevation. Come on, now – everybody offers this. The driver’s seat is adjustable for height, but Renault’s execution is less refined than any other I have encountered, effectively offering only “all the way up, or all the way down.”
Having been put into nitpicking mood from the outset, I felt that the radio/CD player is cheap and plasticky as well. And why the old technology engines? I realise that these things are intended to offer basic entry-level wheels for the masses, but newer engines are generally more powerful, quieter and more economical.
Moving on to the positive, one useful toy the Dynamique does have is automatic door locking that operates as you pull off. The boot, at 320 litres, is roomy for a small car, legroom in the back is adequate for six-footers on short journeys and there is plenty of headroom.
All four windows are power operated, although you won’t find the switches where you expect to. These, the central locking switch and various others, are oddly sited in the centre, but then French cars are expected to be a little quirky aren’t they?
A bygone whine of motoring journalists was that, with the spare wheel hidden in a well inside the boot, one had to unpack one’s holiday luggage to get at the spare. Not so with Sandero; it’s in a cradle under the body, just like on a pickup.
Unlike the readily accessible items on many pickups though, the cradle on this car can only be operated by means of the wheel spanner, from inside the boot. Quite nifty, actually.
Remaining positive and defying urban legend, a recent spares price suvey shows that those on Sandero are noticeably less expensive than those of other “B” segment (up to R160 000) cars. This is worth bearing in mind when looking beyond expiry of service/maintenance plans, and could become a factor in future resale values.
Performance, while not exciting, is competent and fuel economy is at the upper end of average for 1600s. My own experience, over 300 km of mixed driving, was about 8,2 l/100 km. The oddball trip computer showed 12,2 km/l, which makes sense to me, as I like to know how far a unit of fuel will take me. The metrication Gestapo, however, believes we drive in neat blocks of 100 km at a time, hence its insistence on “l/100.” But that’s the subject of another article entirely…
Price: R149 800
Engine: 1 598 cc 8 valve inline 4 cylinder
Power: 64 kW at 5 500 rpm
Torque: 128 Nm at 3 000 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 11,5 seconds (claimed)
Fuel consumption: 8,2 l/100 km in real life testing
Warranty: 3 years/100 000 km
Maintenance plan: 5 years/60 000 km
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and go to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
Want to ask a question, comment or just tell me you thoroughly disagree with what I say? That's your privilege, because if everybody agreed on everything, the world would be a boring place. All I ask is that you remain calm, so please blow off a little steam before venting too vigorously. Contact me here
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