By: IOL Motoring Staff
The affordable hatch market could be in for a shakeup in about two months from now when Renault launches its new Sandero.
An IOL staff member spotted a number of them on the back of two trucks over the weekend, on their way to Gauteng ahead of the vehicle's imminent introduction. The vehicles were evidently imported, which also suggests that Renault will no longer be building the Dacia-based hatch at Nissan's Rosslyn plant in Gauteng, at least for the time being.
Renault remains tight-lipped about the specifics of the new Sandero, so for now we have to pick evidence from the European model, which has already been launched in Dacia guise. Slightly longer than its predecessor, it claims to offer impressive cabin space for five adults.
Although it's still pitched as a simple and affordable vehicle, the new Sandero is more sophisticated than its predecessor and range-topping versions really pack on the luxury with items like a seven-inch touch-screen infotainment system with satnav, cruise control and leather seats. However, to keep prices down, the basic models are still, errr, rather basic.
That said, the square and chunky interior benefits from improved sound proofing and better-quality materials across the range.
The engine range also caters for a wide range of budgets. More affluent buyers can opt for Renault's all-new 66kW 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbopetrol, as seen in the new Clio, or a much-improved 1.5 dCi diesel with the same output and boasting 220Nm of twist.
The most affordable engine option is a normally aspirated 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol that's rated at 55kW.
As before, a new Stepway 'wannabe SUV' version of the Sandero is also offered abroad, complete with a rugged-looking body kit and a ride height that's been raised by 40mm.
The local specs and the all-too-crucial pricing for the new Sandero will be confirmed closer to the car's local launch.
PS: Our UK correspondent drove the new Sandero in Dacia guise last year. Click here for his impressions.