Renault has given its Sandero the nowadays-obligatory mid-life nip and tuck, but the big news is the realignment of the range as well as pricing structure, and the consequent better value it offers.

While the Expression base model continues as before, with the exception that an aircon is now standard, the mid-range Dynamique model falls away, and the trendy Stepway crossover-hatch splits into two derivatives: a more affordable Expression and a luxurious Dynamique. 

A stronger rand has helped Renault reduce prices slightly, with the Expression coming in at R7000 less than its predecessor, at R159 900. That's a bit less than you'll pay for its key rivals, the Toyota’s Etios 1.5 Xi (R163 900) and VW’s Polo Vivo 1.4 Conceptline (R172 300). Stepping up into a Stepway Expression will cost you R174 900, while the Dynamique will set you back R189 000 – and that still undercuts the previous Stepway by R7000 despite being fitted with more features.

The Sandero is also well appointed for the money. In addition to the aforementioned a/c, the Expression models come with an audio system with Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel controls as well as power windows upfront, remote central locking, dual airbags, ABS and ESP stability control.

Stretching your budget to the Dynamique rewards you with Renault’s 17.8cm MediaNav touch-screen audio system with navigation, in addition to cruise control, rear park assist, leather steering wheel and front side airbags. You can also have leather seats for an additional R10 000.

Minor updates inside and out

Not much changes aesthetically on the inside, apart from a new centre console, revised air vents and updated seat upholstery, but ergonomics have been brought into the modern world, with electric window controls moving from the centre console to the door panels and the hooter migrating to its rightful place in the middle of the steering wheel.

Exterior design changes are subtle but they do bring a more contemporary look. Restyled headlights contain C-shaped daytime running lights that appear to flow into the new grille and the bumpers have been reshaped front and rear, while the darker-tinted tail-lights also get a C-shaped inner signature.

The 898cc three-cylinder turbopetrol engine carries over from the previous range, pushing 66kW at 5250rpm and 135Nm at 2500rpm. The Gauteng launch route put us on a loop around the Magaliesberg region and the Sandero felt strong for an entry-level car, but you do have to stir the five-speed manual gearbox to get the best out of it. Given the little-engine, heavy-car state of affairs, it is rather laggy at the bottom reaches of the rev range before there’s enough exhaust pressure to spool the turbo, but it’s nothing a bit of clutch work can’t solve. However, it’s just not as effortless to drive as its normally aspirated rivals, although the turbo will make overtaking easier.

All in all, the Sandero is certainly one of the top contenders in the sub-R200 000 hatch and crossover market, offering decent performance, space, equipment and safety features for a very reasonable price. Included in the deal is a two-year/30 000km service plan and five-year/150 000km warranty.

SANDERO PRICING

0.9T Expression - R159 900 

0.9T Stepway Expression - R174 900 

0.9T Stepway Dynamique - R189 900

IOL Motoring

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