Driven: 2019 Renault Sandero Stepway Plus
Ah, the Sandero – one of James May’s favourite cars. It’s been around in South Africa for quite some time and it’s maintained an impressive track record. It’s also one of the better buys of 2019 thanks to an impressive from R2999-a-month deal that includes 1-year’s comprehensive insurance, a 2-year service plan and a 5-year warranty. We got to spend a week with one to see if it’s worth your hard earned Rands.
The styling of the Sandero remains familiar to the original with a few incremental styling upgrades to keep it up to date, such as the LED headlights. The more off-road inspired Stepway Plus model that we had on test adds a roof rail, plastic protective lower body panels and a set of sporty 16-inch two-tone alloy ‘Flex’ wheels. Heading inside, the interior is adequate. It’s nothing impressive yet it still features a substantial amount of bells and whistles to keep the daily commute comfortable. The presence of leather is limited to the steering wheel, gear lever and drivers armrest while the rest of the upholstery is finished in ‘Dark Carbon’ fabric.
The thing about budget cars like the Sandero is that they’re not bought for striking looks or lavish luxury. Buyers understand that they need to maximise their money, so safety and reliability usually become the main priorities. The Sandero Stepway Plus delivers in this regard with a total of four airbags – two on the side and two up front, as well as Hill Start Assist, Anti-Lock Brakes, Electronic Stability Programme and Emergency Brake Assist as standard kit. Some of the other useful features include cruise control, front and rear electric windows, rear park assist and built in Navigation, all displayed on the 7-inch MediaNav Multimedia touchscreen. The infotainment system also supports FM radio, Bluetooth, Aux and USB to enable applications like Apple CarPlay.
Pop the hood and you’ll find a turbocharged 0.9-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine. It supplies the Renault Sandero Stepway Plus with 66kW of power and 135Nm of torque, driving the front wheels through a 5-speed manual gearbox. Performance is not the Sandero’s forte, although it makes up for that in efficiency. Renault claim a combined consumption figure of 5.4-litres/100km and for the duration of my test I didn’t stray too far off that figure.
The Sandero Stepway Plus is a decent car to live with. It’s compact size makes it a dream to manoeuvre dense parking spaces and peak-hour traffic yet still retaining enough space to keep the driver and a couple of passengers comfortable. The one fault that I did find was the clutch pedal, which seemed too soft and, as a result, made it difficult to find the ‘sweet spot’ on most shifts. However, you do get used to it after some time so it’s not a train smash. The consumption is great, especially when you consider that this car is targeted to students among other market segments. The infotainment system works well and without delay, although the sound system could have been a bit clearer. Overall, the Renault Sandero Stepway Plus is definitely good value for money.