Sandero Stepway is great value

It might be nothing more than a hatchback in hiking boots, but there’s certainly a calling for vehicles like the Renault Sandero, given how just about everyone wants an SUV these days but not all are willing or able to part with the big wads of cash needed to join that trendy club.

And on that note, the Stepway is more budget-friendly than ever following its recent mid-life facelift.

Not only did Renault introduce a more affordable Stepway Expression derivative, and even the new range-topping Dynamique model. On top of that, the Dynamique, on test here, is better equipped. “So much for being a budget hatch,” I thought when first sinking into the car, with its leather seats and gadgets that I would not have expected at this price level. The following is all standard: cruise control and an 18cm touch-screen infotainment centre with satellite navigation, rear park assist, full Bluetooth/USB/CD functionality and audio controls on the snazzy looking leather-covered steering wheel.

In fact, the view ahead is quite pleasing, with its combination of carbon-like trim, chrome surrounds and grainy plastics that are hard but look soft. It’s not as classy lower down and to the sides, and the glovebox on our unit was out of alignment with the dash, but other than that the build quality and finish seemed acceptable at the price.

Ergonomics have also improved with the latest upgrades, the hooter migrating back to its rightful place on the steering wheel and the front electric window controls hopping from the centre console to a far more convenient location on the door panels. The aforementioned MediaNav touch-screen system is also a cinch to operate.

Despite the car’s fairly generous proportions, there isn’t really a lot of space for rear seat passengers to stretch their legs, although the 292 litre boot is big by class standards.

As for stretching the Sandero’s legs, this car has an altitude-cheating advantage over its rivals in the form of a turbocharger, providing a much-needed boost to its ‘downsized’ 898cc three-cylinder engine, which is rated at 66kW and 135Nm.

Unfortunately it is quite laggy through the lower reaches of the rev range, which makes it trickier to pull off, and take gaps in traffic. You really have to stir the five-speed manual gearbox frequently and as a result it’s not as effortless to pilot as normally aspirated rivals such as Toyota’s Etios. That said, when you’re in the rather narrow power band the little engine does deliver very decent-for-its-class performance.

Even if you have to rev it a bit higher than the economy gurus would recommend, fuel consumption remains impressively frugal, our test car averaging 6.7 litres per 100km on an urban-heavy mixture of town and freeway driving.

Chucking it around the urban grind, it’s not only the engine that detracts from its ease of use – there’s also no place for your left foot next to the clutch. The rest of the driving experience was rather painless though and despite a lack of seat height or steering wheel reach adjustment (albeit understandable at the price), I was able to find a comfortable driving position.

The overall ride quality is also reasonably cushy. Despite a slight firmness in the suspension, bumps and ripples are absorbed without any real shock.

With a ground clearance of 193mm, the Stepway rides higher than the normal Sandero hatch, but it doesn’t feel too top-heavy around corners. Its stance might help it out on the dirt roads, but like most of today’s crossovers and SUVs it’s no off-roader, although those black wheel arch mouldings, bulky bumpers, skid plates and roof rails ensure that it most certainly looks the adventurous part.

By the way, its wheels aren’t actually real alloy mags, but you’d have to give them a good nudge to tell the difference. They’re steel wheels carved in the same shape as the smartly designed plastic hubcaps that cover them, so you don’t see the steel rim at all. They’re not only a lot cheaper to make than alloys, but also more cost effective to replace if you scrape them on a rock while trying to prove that the Sandero is in fact an off-roader (which you shouldn’t). Genius.



Compared with its rivals the Sandero Stepway has a cleaner, fresher look to it and it’s better equipped and cheaper. Providing you can live with its few quirks, it is most certainly an excellent and very desirable buy in its seemingly confused segment. But then if you can go without those trendy pumped-up looks and a few of the gadgets, its conventional hatch sibling, the Sandero Expression, is an even better deal – possibly even one of the best on the market right now.


FACTS: Renault Sandero Stepway 0.9T Dynamique

Engine: 0.9-litre, 3-cylinder turbopetrol
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Power: 66kW @ 5250rpm
Torque: 135Nm @ 2500rpm
0-100km/h (Claimed): 11.1 seconds
Top speed (Claimed): 168km/h
Warranty: 5-year/150 000km
Maintenance plan: 2-year/30 000km

If you’re looking to get your drive on a new or used Renault Sandero – make sure to contact a Group 1 Renault near you. Book a test drive and discuss the Renault Sandero specs with a knowledgeable staff member at Group 1 Renault.
Article source:


Renault Megane RS (2018) has grown up

Lately we’ve been trained to associate Renault’s expanding range with inoffensive SUVs, brightly-lacquered crossovers and first-time car buyers but the RS badge has always been a way for Renault to remind the world of their trickle-down motorsport heritage.

Shall we not forget Renault Megane RS initiated this whole front-wheel drive Nurburgring lap time pecking order with the numerous special editions that have become today’s current obsession. A badge vehemently reserved for Clio and Megane, Renault understands something rival brands don’t – integrating the performance division with unsuitable body styles and trim lines dilutes the drama.

Is it a conservative, low-risk evolution?

On the contrary,the latest Megane RS represents a new trajectory that began earnestly in focus groups then deviated from traditional hot hatchback law.  A ground-up approach that repositions the car from purist to mainstream. There are obvious market trends that have rubbed off on the new car; sold exclusively as a five door hatchback, Megane finally has the practicality to challenge GTI while the EDC gearbox is closer than ever to DSG – a benchmark I’m convinced EDC was studied against. The 2018 Megane RS alters the paradigm from uncompromised ride firmness and witchcraft front-end grip to one of user-friendliness.

Then what makes the RS stand out?

Plenty to discuss here. The engine’s downsized to 1.8-litres but because they’ve let the boost slide north (1.7 bar compared to 1.3 bar), there’s still 206kW and 390Nm but lower carbon emissions and lighter consumption. All boxes ticked, even if the noise is muted compared to the predecessor’s raucous intake surge. Then there’s 4Control, the rear-wheel steering assist that was fitted to Megane GT but in this case reconfigured for extra playfulness.  Renault talks up this technology, keen to emphasise it as the vanguard of hot hatch dynamics.

Don’t keep me in suspense, how does it drive?  

RS fans, take a deep breath because there’s some depressing news. This new model re-programmes the RS’s fundamentals, transforming it from a no frills driving machine into a textured, not always cohesive hatchback that can’t replicate the same unyielding mid-corner grip of yore. The semi-locking differential (Cup version) doesn’t bite as hard and the front wheels don’t claw their way back to the apex if you enter too fast. It’s a car that requires finesse on the entry and patience on the exit to prevent wanton wheelspin. I’m not convinced there’d be a meaningful deficit in pace if the engine output was curtailed to 170kW and 350Nm.

What about the 4Control.

If Renault had any intention of developing the understudy to Ford’s drift model on RS, 4Control gets you pretty close to that experience.  In Sport Mode it works up to 60km/h. Race mode keeps it engaged up to 100km/h while deactivating the ESC. Ultimately what you end up with is a chassis balance that’s often unable to reconcile between front and rear stability. The first warning came early in the drive when we entered a downhill right completely sideways for the we’re-not-going-to-make-this-next left, left.

Later I had to give it half a turn of opposite lock at 60km/h on an unremarkable right hander. You could never provoke the same waywardness from the old car, and I’m not sure I’d call 4Control handling progress. Over-stylised, over-engineered. Unnerving. Perhaps we need more time to get comfortable with its quirks.

Same feedback in the stiffer, racier Cup version?

The Cup’s drawcard is the limited slip differential. Frankly owning a hot hatch that has over 200kW and 350Nm without one is a mistake. Other highlights include a six-speed manual gearbox (yay) and conventional handbrake (yay) but the power’s the same (boo), so are the seats (a little too high) and you still feel Renault is deliberately feathering some of the diff’s aggression for the upcoming Trophy. Renault SA is still deciding whether to bring Cup with manual or EDC. Or both. Expect survey poll on forums in coming weeks…

EDC like the one found in Clio

Not as slushy. In fact quite brilliant. Meaty and deliberate with long elegant blades that Renault calls steering paddles. Shame they don’t turn with the steering wheel – are you listening Ferrari – so at times you do slam the engine into the rev limiter.

Is it GTI quality inside?

Interior plushness has taken a big leap in an area that previous versions were never praised for. A quality of execution with the hallmarks of a flagship performance model lavished in abundance from seats that cup you in the right places, aluminium pedals, overtones of red on black, flat bottom wheel…all the reassuring snippets your inner child needs.

The tablet monitor has gone down the same path as so many other systems, intent on migrating all buttons into the submenus, even though functions such as adjusting fan speed would undoubtedly work better as a button. But it’s fairly adept at juggling a few tasks simultaneously, with a convenient home button when you’ve got a bit lost. Standard specification, and an area where Megane holds an edge, includes navigation, the RS monitor, heads-up display, auto parking and heated seats.

You seem underwhelmed

Perhaps but only because cars like the Clubsport, Focus RS, Civic Type R (admittedly more expensive) have pushed the hot hatch game on so far that we’ve been spoilt by their brilliance. The new 2018 Megane RS has greater bandwidth than the old car and by wedging its pretty, smug nose between the GTI and Civic Type R it’ll sell better than any two iridescent generations that came before it. In the end you have to see their point.

If you’re in the smart crowd – visit a Group 1 Renault dealership and test drive the Renault Megane. Group 1 Renault has new and used Renault Megane’s on offer.

Article source:

Renault Clio – Honest Motoring Review

IT IS always exciting when you get to test drive a hot hatch, but with the Renault Clio RS 200 EDC, it has been different.

You see, I am the owner of a previous-generation Renault Clio for sale, so when I heard how the DNA of the new version had been altered, I began to worry. But I came into the test with an open mind; I had driven all of its rivals enough to make an informed decision.

The most fuss was about the free-revving 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine being replaced by a 1.6-litre turbocharged unit. It has the same claimed output figure as its predecessor (147kW), albeit now with 240Nm of torque. The six-speed manual gearbox is gone and in its place is a six-speed twin-clutch automatic. There is also only a five-door option now, whereas the third generation was a three-door. The Brembo brakes have also been done away with.

Why would a manufacturer famed for its pure performance hatches do this? Sales. Some of the best-selling hot hatches on the market are the Volkswagen Golf and Polo GTI models, which are mostly also double-clutch automatics. The other thing is that they are locally also five-door-only models. The Clio has taken this recipe for sales success by downsizing in terms of mechanicals and upsizing in terms of practicality.

The gearbox is not very impressive in normal mode – it holds gears for too long and then drones as it changes, but RS Sport mode remedies this problem. The sport setting means that the traction and stability programmes are still on, but they are progressive and only intervene when it is absolutely necessary.

For those who want the pure driving experience, race mode means no traction control and manual shifts via the steering-mounted paddles. The upshifts are truly very quick, but on downshifts the gearbox hesitates to respond to your inputs, which in a track situation could prove frustrating.

We had the Cup spec, which does what it says on the box: the car is lower and can corner better than its Lux sibling, but does sacrifice in terms of comfort.

The straight-line stuff is where the Clio RS is very impressive. A 0-100km/h time of 6.7 seconds is achievable thanks to a brutal launch-control system. I found the claimed fuel consumption of 6.3 litres/100km difficult to replicate. On a mixed cycle, I could only muster a figure north of 8.0 litres/100km, which is still more efficient than the model it replaces.

Overall I have to say that I liked the new Clio RS quite a bit more than I thought I would. You get the sense that this vehicle was well thought out from a marketing perspective. It has all of the necessary ingredients to appeal to the boy racer market, yet is also something that anyone would be happy to drive as a daily.

I think that it’s only real rival is the Polo GTI, as it’s the only auto-only model in this class and therefore appeals to a different market. As a daily driver I can’t say that I wouldn’t prefer the Renault with a newly found maturity.

If you’re interested in and want to know more about the available Renault Clio’s on offer – contact a Group 1 Renault dealership today. Their capable and knowledgeable staff look forward to assisting you from booking a test drive to buying a Renault Clio for sale.

Article source:

Review: Renault Sandero Stepway

The new Renault Sandero Stepway, however, is an infinitely superior vehicle to its predecessor. One expects manufacturers to incrementally improve their wares with each generation, but with the latest version of the Stepway, Renault has does more than just that — the urban crossover has taken giant leaps forward in virtually all departments. And the best part of it all? The second-gen Stepway’s pocket-pleasing price-tag has hardly changed.

Perhaps most impressive is the Stepway’s standard specification list, which includes a number of features that are pretty unusual in the budget segment. It boasts rear parking sensors, cruise control (with a speed limiter), Bluetooth, leather steering wheel (with tilt-adjustment) and satellite audio controls, as well as an electronic stability programme, traction control, hill-start assist, emergency brake assist, and four airbags.

In addition to these handy items, the Stepway also features all the kit one would expect from such a vehicle, including electric windows, air-conditioning, a multi-information display, audio system (CD/radio/USB/Aux), electrically adjustable side-mirrors, front fog-lights, a 60:40 split folding rear bench, IsoFix child-seat anchors, and ABS with EBD.

The styling is similarly pleasing, allowing the Renault Sandero Stepway to come across as more premium than it actually is. In fact, we reckon this crossover version — with its subtle black cladding, raised ground clearance (up 29mm to 193mm), front and rear scuff-plates, and silver roof-rails — is a fair bit better looking than the standard hatch on which it is based.

Of course, the Stepway shares its powerplant — an 898cc turbo triple we first sampled in the Renault Clio 4 — with the self-same Sandero. This forced induction three-potter makes a credible 66kW at 5250rpm and 135Nm at 2500rpm (besting the previous generation’s naturally aspirated 1.6-litre), which the French automaker reckons is good for an 11.1-second dash to 100km/h.

In reality, though, the Sandero Stepway feels a little sluggish at the bottom of the rev-range, even if the fuel-saving Eco Mode (which dulls engine response for the sake of efficiency) is disabled. This lack of punch compels the driver to push a little harder, resulting in a menacing three-potter thrum as the revs rise, as well as a general decrease in fuel efficiency.

Although we didn’t manage to match Renault’s consumption claim of 5.4 litres per 100km, we were nevertheless left impressed by our final figure of 6.1 — which translates into a theoretical range of well over 800km from the 50-litre tank. Bear in mind, however, that in top gear the small capacity engine spins at a rather lofty 3000rpm at 120km/h.

The shift action of the five-speed manual gearbox, meanwhile, is disappointingly flimsy and the ride a little choppy over scarred tarmac. In fact, chuck the Stepway around and it feels decidedly unsettled thanks to the appreciable increase in ride-height. But customers buying a Stepway are likely to care more that it can take poor road surfaces in its stride than that it doesn’t corner particularly flat.

Inside, the Stepway comes across as hard-wearing but without looking “cheap and nasty”. The layout of certain controls, however, takes some getting used to (the front electric windows, for example, are operated via dash-mounted buttons in front of the gear-lever, while the rear window controls are bizarrely situated between the front seats). Cabin space is considerable, with rear leg-room perfectly acceptable and head-room back there really rather good. The boot, meanwhile, can swallow 292 litres (and hides a space-saver spare wheel).

Make no mistake, the Sandero Stepway is a budget car, but the fact that it’s easy on the eye and absolutely crammed with kit — as well as a standard five-year or 150 000km warranty and two-year or 30 000km service plan (with intervals of 15 000km) — makes it stand out from the cut-price crowd. In fact, it outshines the recently launched Toyota Etios Cross in all areas other than engine response and road manners.

The Stepway represents terrific value for money, even if it is some R14k more expensive than the standard Sandero hatchback.

Very much unlike its predecessor, the new Renault Sandero Stepway’s significant strengths render its flaws almost inconsequential.



Engine: 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol

Transmission: Five-speed manual

Power: 66kW at 5250rpm

Torque: 135Nm at 2500rpm


Tyre Size

205/55 R16



Luggage compartment: 292 litres


Get a close-up look and personal feel for the Renault Sandero at a Group 1 Renault dealership or view the Renault Sandero for sale online. Find the perfect Renault for you at a Group 1 Renault today.

Article source:

Renault Kangoo Reviewed

The Renault Kangoo has been with us for a while and it now and has received a mid-life rejuvenation, with a new model also entering the range. It’s called the Express Panel Van and features the two major updates within the range.

The first of these changes sees a tweak to the familiar naturally aspirated 1.6-litre power plant. The changes include improved power and torque outputs of 77kW and 148 Nm. Efficiency has been improved, with a claimed fuel consumption of 7.7 litres/100km and carbon emissions of 180g/km.

There have also been a few cosmetic changes, with the incorporation of the new Renault family front end as featured on the new Clio and upcoming Mégane models, as well as the addition of a more tapered headlamp design.

There are a few creature comforts inside the cabin, including electrically assisted power steering, air conditioning, a trip computer and height-adjustable driver’s seat. A radio with CD, MP3 playback and Bluetooth connectivity is available as an aftermarket dealer fitment.

Standard safety features include a driver’s airbag along with an anti-submarining hump in the seat cushion. Other important impact safety features include a deformable magnesium steering wheel frame, door padding, metal shield in the shell under the steering wheel to reduce the risk of lower limb injury as well as a collapsible brake pedal.

The New Kangoo Express also comes standard with the latest ABS system, integrated with electronic brake distribution and automatic activation of the hazard warning lamps during emergency stops.

As with the outgoing Kangoo, there is a dashboard-mounted gear shift, with the handbrake’s design taken from the aviation industry, which increases stowage space between the two seats. There are several storage bins throughout the cabin, one of which is an A4 document storage area and pen holder on the dashboard. The central storage compartment allows the driver and front passenger  keep essential items close at hand.

Being a business-orientated vehicle, the 800 kg payload and 3m3 utility volume should provide an adequate carrying and loading capacity. The rear swing doors are designed for heavy duty use and can be opened up to 90 degrees with the internal latch in place. Stability has been improved, with the 2.7-metre wheelbase and front- and rear-track dimensions of 1.52 metres and 1.53 metres respectively. The MacPherson-type suspension up front and programmed deflection coil-spring suspension at the rear have been optimised for load-carrying capabilities.

If the Renault Kangoo ticks all the boxes for you – visit Group 1 Renault for more information here or book a test drive at a Group 1 Renault dealership today!

Article source:

2017 Renault Clio Intens review

The 2017 Renault Clio range has been rejigged, with a new ‘luxurious’ model at the top of the range. This is it – the new Clio Intens.

Velvet. Say it out loud. Go on. Vellllvet. Imagine Captain Holt from Brooklyn Nine-Nine saying it. Let it roll off your tongue. It’s one of those words, one of those materials, which conjures a certain image – like, when I wrote ‘tongue’ and ‘velvet’ in the same paragraph, I bet your tongue was flushed with a strange, dry, sandpapery sensation.

What’s it all got to do with this review? Well, when was the last time you heard of a car with a velvet interior? The 2017 Renault Clio Intens has exactly that. Mmmm, exotic!

It’s not in the same league as that red dress worn by Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, but the newly added Intens variant in the updated Clio range features (fake) leather and velvet seat lining. For reals.

The Intens model – obviously – is going for the luxury angle in the updated Clio range, which also has more affordable Life and Zen  models available, and a sporty GT-Line version for the same money as the Intens – all prices plus on-road costs. Read the full pricing and specs story for more detail.

So, can a little car like this up-spec Clio offer the little luxuries you might expect? Renault, after all, is pitching this version as “luxurious” – it even says so in the brand’s media release. Consider it a rival for the newly-added Mazda 2 GT, the Volkswagen Polo Highline or a Peugeot 208 Allure.

It’s not our place to say whether a car looks nice or not, but the 17-inch alloy wheels are schmick, and Intens models can be had with free personalisation options, like Flame Red or Ivory exterior elements (door sill and grille inserts and rear spoiler), and Red or Grey interior highlights (dashboard, door panels, seat highlights).

I’m one of the first to admit it can be difficult to think how a compact car like this can offer the indulgences you might find in something bigger and more expensive. But this version has other bits and pieces to make it stand out from, shall we say, lesser Clio variants – like chrome window trims and tinted rear windows. And it also has a hands-free parking system with front, rear and side parking sensors in addition to the standard-across-the-range rear-view camera system.

Like most semi-automated parking systems, you hit a button (in this instance placed logically up next to the media screen) to activate the system, then use the indicator so the car knows on which side you wish to park. You need to choose the gear (drive or reverse) as the car instructs, and apply the brake and throttle – just be careful: if you’re facing downhill and put it in D, it can roll forwards, and because of the dual-clutch gearbox there can be some lurching under light throttle, and the indicators auto-cancel when you make minor adjustments to the steering.

It doesn’t just do reverse-parallel parks, either. It’ll deal with perpendicular and even 45-degree angle spots. As with many of these systems, it can be slower than a human to pick a suitable space, and it can be frustrating to use if you’ve got someone up your clacker, too (just like any reverse-parallel move!). But it works, and works well. If you want to see it in action, what the video attached to this review.

Other niceties in the flagship Intens model include the brand’s R-Link multimedia system with built-in satellite-navigation and voice control, and a four-speaker Arkamys sound system. Even though this is an update, there’s no change to the phone connectivity on offer – still one USB port, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto mirroring.

Even in the entry-level version you get keyless entry (front doors only) and push-button start, automatic on/off headlights and automatic windscreen wipers. Our car (and the Zen below it) has LED headlights, which are excellent.

And while all of that shiny, special looking stuff is enough to get excited about what the little Clio has, you also need to consider some of the stuff it doesn’t have.

There is no autonomous emergency braking system, even as an option, and there are no curtain airbags to protect rear-seat occupants, either. Those exclusions may or may not matter to you, but you should consider that every other car in the class has rear curtain airbag coverage, and many now have AEB available – the Mazda 2 has it standard in every model.

There are other driving quirks that’ll either be fine by you, or not. The dual-clutch transmission is one such objectionable item, because at low speeds it can be jerky at times, it can also roll back/forward as mentioned, and the throttle can be hard to modulate as a result.

When you’re taking away from traffic lights it’s relatively easy to judge the throttle, although there is some turbo-lag to contend with along with the transmission hesitation. If you do a lot of stop-start urban driving, be sure to do exactly that when you go for a test drive.

The drivetrain is great above 15km/h – there’s enough punch from the 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, with its 88kW of power (at 4900rpm) and 190Nm of torque (at 2000rpm) helping it hustle along nicely. It never feels breathless, though the lack of a sport mode means you might resort to doing manual shifts, and there are no paddle-shifters.

Still, the dual-clutch transmission has a less crisp action than other gearboxes of this ilk. You can feel the clutches working under hard acceleration, for instance, though the shifts are smooth when you’re cruising or call on a lower gear for a quick overtaking move.

It’s quiet under acceleration, which is nice, and it’s not too loud on coarse-chip roads, either, even with Michelin Primacy 3 tyres (in 205/45/17 spec).

Those tyres have a bit to do with the good level of grip on offer. In the wet it can tend to want to push on in really tight bends, but the steering is accurate and well weighted, so you know what’s going on at the front axle at all times.

The Clio’s suspension is pretty well sorted, too. It corners with ease, holds a nice flat line when you’re pushing it hard, and isn’t too firm over bumps. You’d expect, being a French car, it would be good over pockmarked surfaces – similar enough to cobblestones, after all – and it doesn’t get too worried in those circumstances.

Sharp edges are a bit more of an issue, as it can bounce a bit firmly on the rebound. But on the whole the suspension has a nice tension to it; it’s not cushy, or luxurious for that matter, but nor is it too hard to live with.

Other aspects that need to be examined when considering luxury are cabin space, materials, technology and equipment.

It isn’t packed with kit – you miss out on seat heaters, and the seats are manually adjustable in lieu of motorised toggles. You don’t even get dual-zone climate control – there’s manual air-conditioning with temperature increments, which Renault says is single-zone climate control. I tend to disagree.

If you think rear seat space is vital for a car with lavish pretensions, you’ll be upset. There’s not much space in the back – in fact, it’s cramped by class standards, with tight knee, head, toe and shoulder room, particularly if you’re trying to fit three across the flat back seat.

There’s not much storage either, with small pockets in the back doors, no cupholders (and no armrest) but a pair of map pockets. I guess you could put a take-away hot chocolate in one of those, right?

The shortage of storage continues up front, to a degree. The door pockets are small, the cupholders are low between the seats and shallow (there’s a third full-sized one but it’s hard to reach), and there’s no usable room in the glovebox – but there’s a little shelf above which is handy for passengers to stow their wallets or phones.

This spec gets an armrest between the front seats that includes a small storage bin, while the boot is competitive for the class, with 300 litres of cargo capacity and a space-saver spare wheel under the body of the car.

The materials on the dash fall short of what you might think you’d get by looking at the car from the outside, and the plastics on the doors are fine, but not special. The velvet on the seats, though… (cue Homer Simpson gurgle of desire here).

Renault’s R-Link media touch screen is bright and colourful but can be slow to load between screens, and when you are connected to the Bluetooth audio streaming it can jump between sources – for instance, I was listening to a podcast, then took a phone call, and once I hung up it resumed playing music, not the podcast. Weird.

Still, we love that the only speedometer in the Clio is a digital one – it’s easy to see, even for oldies, and there’s a trip computer displaying the vitals like fuel consumption above it, though that’s mirrored on the screen. On that topic, our test regime saw a return of 6.2 litres per 100 kilometres – just a bit over the claim of 5.6L/100km.

The updated Clio model falls under Renault’s revised servicing plan that sees it need maintenance every 12 months or 30,000km – generous, right? The Clio is backed by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and has the same cover for roadside assistance.

The Renault Clio is a reasonably well-equipped model with a fair amount of European flair to help it stand out in the segment. View the Renault Clio’s on offer at Group 1 Renault and test drive a Clio today!

Article source:

The new Renault Sandero – a Stepway in the right direction

2017 is Renault’s best year to date, so far. Its pillar models are doing far better than expected, with the one-airbag, no-ABS Renault KWID in such demand that the French automaker can’t keep up.

For February, the comely Renault Sandero was in 7th position overall in the local top ten best-selling passenger vehicle list, less than nine days before the SA launch of the facelifted Sandero even took place. Renault’s February sales figure of 681 Sandero’s reigned supreme over the Datsun Go, as well as the other entry-level contenders such as the Ford Figo and VW Polo Vivo.

I attended the local launch near the Cradle of Humankind last week, and was reminded as to why this little runabout is packing such a punch in the popularity stakes. The new one will undoubtedly be punching even harder. Here’s why:

1. It’s a more dapper-looking Frenchman

The outgoing Sandero was sufficiently attractive, but the new Sandero makes more of an urban style statement. All models benefit from a reshaped nose, grille, and headlamps with C-shaped daytime running lamps. Other changes are hard to spot, but the fog lamp housings look different, and at the rear, the tail lamps gain the C-shape as well.

I find the grille design of the entry-level Sandero Expression (R159,900) more attractive than that of the Stepway.

The interior has been upgraded and enhanced, with different trims and a redesigned front fascia. The practical placement of window controls in the doors (instead of on the front console) is also new. The interior is no Audi A1, but for what you’re paying you really shouldn’t complain. Leather seats are a 10K option in the Stepway Dynamique.

2. You can be counting pennies and still afford an SUV

The Stepway always offered a raised ride height and other outdoorsy details, and since the SUV-lifestyle is all the rage right now, the flagship Sandero Stepway Dynamique cross-hatch is now joined with another Stepway-variant: the more affordable Sandero Stepway Expression.

The Sandero Dynamique hatchback will be falling away completely – Renault found that people would rather buy an entry-level SUV than a more luxuriously-specced Sandero hatch. In the Stepway Dynamique, you can adjust the height of the driver’s seat for maximum visibility up ahead.

3. It’s loaded with technology unheard of in this price range

The new Stepway Dynamique is kitted out with Renault’s MediaNav 7-inch touchscreen system, featuring integrated navigation. Other creature comforts such as cruise control, rear-park assist and electrically operated door mirrors are thrown in as well. Even the humble Sandero Expression gets a 2-DIN integrated radio CD MP3 with a USB port, Bluetooth telephony and music streaming, fingertip controls, front power windows, and a gearshift indicator as well as Eco Mode.

4. Its fuel economy is exemplary

Agreed, the turbocharged 900cc engine is not going to give you a jolt in the backside when you pull away from stop streets, but it’s perfectly sufficient for town as well as open-road driving. Hitting the winding roads of the Magaliesberg proved to be a fun exercise. However, going around a slow corner in first gear is sometimes needed when you think second would have sufficed. You quickly get used to the turbo lag in first and second gear, and you adapt your driving style accordingly. We only spent 180km inside the 66kW Sandero, but it was a relatively vivacious 180km, while our fuel economy returned a fantastic figure of 5.6 litres per 100km.

5. It’s suited to our poorly-maintained roads

The Sandero is loved by rental companies, who prefer their cars to be robust and capable of handling a fair bit of everyday punishment. The 16-inch FLEX wheels that the Stepway-variants are shod with, are especially designed to withstand those pesky potholes.

6. It’s the safest car in its class

If you needed one reason to convince someone to go for the Sandero Expression rather than the bestselling, more expensive Polo Vivo, the safety features are it.

In this class, not even ABS is a given, but every Sandero is equipped with ABS as well as EBD and Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist, and (drum roll please!) ESP (Electronic Stability Program) with ASR (Anti-Skid Regulation).

Sandero and Stepway Expression-variants get two airbags, and the Stepway Dynamique gets four. Younger, inexperienced drivers need safer cars, and Renault realises this – let’s hope this way of thinking is continued into the next KWID.

7. After sales service, warranty and service plan

Once again very competitive, beating the VW Polo Vivo, Ford Figo and Toyota Etios with its warranty of five years/150,000km and its two-year/30,000km service plan. Its parts basket is also the lowest of the bunch mentioned above.

Parts availability is no longer an issue since the Nissan/Renault alliance. According to the Kinsey report, the Sandero is also one of the cheapest cars to maintain, service and repair.

Test drive the Renault Sandero today! Visit a Group 1 Renault or view Renault’s range here.

Article source:

2017 Renault Clio Update Revealed – Cosmetic Refresh, New Diesel

Renault has given its Clio small hatch range a modest refresh for the 2017 model year, with some minor tweaks to exterior styling that help modernise its appearance, but stop short of bringing it into line with Renault’s new breed of passenger cars.

Bumpers are new, with a wider lower grille at front and a new shape at the rear that Renault says sports “additional robustness”. The headlamps and tail lamps sport new internals and LED elements, though the Clio doesn’t receive the same “extended-C” daytime running lamp arrangement as the new Megane, Koleos or Talisman.


New wheel covers and alloy wheel designs round out the remainder of the external changes, and four new colours have been added to the Clio’s colour palette – Intense Red, Titanium Grey, Pearlescent White and Iron Blue.

Interior changes are minor, with the Clio retaining its dashboard layout virtually unchanged – though Renault says material quality has improved, with all-new cloth and leather upholstery too.


The silver interior trim is more subdued, with a matte rather than glossy finish. The texture of some cabin plastics has been improved as well to help impart a more premium feel to the Clio’s cabin. Three infotainment systems will be offered in Europe depending on specification, starting with a base “R&Go” system, a midgrade R-Link Evolution and Media Nav Evolution.

Under the bonnet changes are limited to the addition of a range-topping 80kW 1.5 litre diesel to the range, plus a six-speed manual transmission for the formerly auto-only 88kW TCe 120 petrol engine.


The diesel is highly unlikely to come here, though it remains to be seen whether Renault will equip locally-delivered Clios fitted with the TCe 120 engine – namely the automatic version of the Clio Expression, the Clio Dynamique and Clio GT/GT Premium – with the six-speed manual.

Check out the Renault Clio range at a Group 1 Renault dealership. Find a Renault Clio that suits you here and take it for a test drive.


Article source:

Renault Sandero Stepway Dynamique (2017) First Drive


Renault’s fast-selling budget offering, the Sandero, has been facelifted and the range rejigged to focus more on the popular Stepway derivative. We drive it.

In many ways the sales success of the Renault Sandero was predictable. Originally launched in 2009 and offering great value for money through its practical packaging, big-car features and good warranty, the first-generation (and locally built) Sandero sold briskly.

If anything, the second-generation car (imported from Romania), has been doing even better. Since its launch in 2014 more than 17 000 have been sold, with a significant percentage opting for the crossover-inspired Stepway derivative.

Now, Renault South Africa has introduced a mildly facelifted version, and also took the opportunity to rejig the model line-up to be more in tune with current trends. Consequently, the previous higher-specification Sandero (called the Dynamique) has been dropped in favour of an additional Stepway derivative in Expression trim.

Small, but stylish upgrades

Look closely and you’ll notice a stylish new rear light signature.

For the launch drive, we were offered the popular flagship Stepway model (Dynamique), which is priced at R189 900 (correct at time of publishing). The pre-facelift car was hardly in need of aesthetic attention, being one of the better-looking budget offerings on the market, but the changes have certainly given the Renault a more upmarket look and feel, and also brings it into line with some of the newer models in the Renault arsenal. Tweaks to the grille, bumper and lights have been subtle, but very effective.

You’ll have to step inside to be able to differentiate the 2 Stepway derivatives. The Dynamique adds a smart leather-wrapped steering wheel, an armrest between the front seats and the neat 7-inch touch screen that we’ve already experienced in the Duster and Kwid, among others. These additions, along with subtle trim changes contribute to a cabin ambience that can hardly be described as “budget”.

Lots of features


Subtle trim revisions, a smart new steering wheel and standard 7-inch touch screen on the Stepway Dynamique lift the cabin beyond its budget origins.

As far as standard features go, the Renault Sandero continues to be a market leader with the French brand going for a full-house offering where the only optional (cost) extra is metallic paint (R2 500) and, on the flagship model at least, leather upholstery (R10 000).

In addition to the Sandero Expression’s front electric windows, remote central locking, remote audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity and music streaming, as well a comprehensive safety package (ABS + EBD, EBA, ESP, dual front airbags, Isofix, hill start assist), the Dynamique adds side airbags, cruise control, rear park assist, rear electric windows, electric mirrors, and the aforementioned touchscreen etc.

As opposed to the situation in the Duster, the touchscreen is conveniently positioned higher and is consequently easier to use. The controls for the front windows have also moved to the (more obvious) door panels. A comprehensive trip computer is included, too.

Comfortable on “real” roads


With its relatively big boot (for this segment) and 60/40 split/fold rear seats, the Sandero remains one of the more practical offerings in this segment.

One of the main benefits of the turbocharged 0.9-litre engine under the bonnet is its combination of torque and efficiency. Compared with its naturally-aspirated rivals, the Sandero Stepway has excellent torque (135 Nm), with the maximum being available at 2 500 rpm. It is also very efficient, with a claimed consumption figure of only 5.4L/100 km (for Stepway models).

I still encountered some lag on my drive (in Gauteng), which coupled with a somewhat tricky clutch, did make for a couple of slow and “lurchy” getaways during the early phases of the drive, but one soon gets used to the delivery characteristics, and once in the meat of the power band, the Renault Sandero is not only powerful enough but also refined.

Besides its good looks, features, space and efficiency, one of the biggest attractions of the Stepway package remains its ride quality on roads of… shall we say… varying quality. The extra ground clearance, comfort-tuned suspension and plump tyres combine to make the Stepway feel very comfortable on roads where driving normal passenger cars would lead to gritted teeth.



With its greater ground clearance, soft suspension and plump tyres, the Sandero Stepway copes very well with South African road conditions.

With a strong warranty (5-years/150 000 km) and standard service plan to support what is, in many ways, a class-leading offering, the Sandero Stepway Dynamique is likely to continue to sell up a storm. If you’re in the market for a budget car, the inclusion of air-conditioning as standard on the Expression model (priced just below R160 000) makes it a very strong contender. And if you want some crossover style, then you now have two excellent Stepway offering to choose from, with your selection largely dictated by budget. Either way, you’ll be stepping into a very good vehicle. Test drive the Sandero and find out for yourself if a Sandero is the right car for you.

Article source:


2017 Renault Kangoo new car review


Renault’s small van mixes work and family duties all at once.

What is it?

The Kangoo Crew is a small van for those who need the option of a work vehicle but also need to carry up to five passengers whether it be colleagues at work or family at home.

How does it drive?

Small vans have come a long way over the last few years, and the Kangoo is no exception as it drives more like a conventional car than a traditional commercial van.

Unladen the van is very comfortable as small bumps and rough roads are soaked up with little fuss. The 1.5-litre engine gets along very well too with minimal turbo lag and a healthy 240Nm of torque making it feel spritely around town. The steering is well weighted too, the clutch is light and the gearbox shift is direct, albeit a little notchy.

When the rear seats are folded down there is more road noise booming through from the cargo area compared with the seat upright.

Overall, the van has great vision with glass all round (our test van has optional rear cargo glass) and a low window line making a noticeable impression as soon as you look over your shoulder.

What’s the interior like?

The interior is full of quality hard plastics with different colours and different textures of grain, which gives the appearance they could be made of a soft material, while some shiny black trim around the radio and ventilation controls is a nice touch.

There is a high rise centre console with plenty of storage space but elsewhere the glove box is deep yet it’s small and fairly useless, as are the door pockets even though they have a cup and bottle holder.

The van has a storage shelf in the roof but it has no liner for things to grip on to under hard acceleration or on steep inclines. The sunvisors also don’t have vanity mirrors and the steering wheel only has height adjustment. The front seats have good bolstering, are comfortable and supportive.

The hood lining in the van covers the second row of seats but then stops, which allows for a little more cargo height but creates some more noise resonance. The rear seat has plenty of room, all three seating positions have lap/sash seat belts and the seat itself, which has a 60:40 split-fold function, stows away nicely into the floor.

The Kangoo has cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and headlight adjustment as standard features.


What’s the payload and towing capacity?

Payload is 750kg for this model variant. Its unbraked towing capacity is 750kg with a maximum 1050kg braked. Tow ball down weight is 90kg max.

What about load space dimensions and anchor points?

The length of the cargo bay, with the seats up, is 1008mm and 1862mm with them down. Its 1251mm high and, coincidentally, the same measurement in width between the wheel arches. It’s total load volume seats up is 1.3 cubic metres as a five-seater and 3.4 cubic metres with the seats down. It has four tie down points at mid height and another four on the floor


How does it perform under load?

The engine gets along fine and does a good job with the weight on board, and although you will find yourself going through the gears on hills the van had no problems sticking to speed limits when loaded up with our 600kg test weight.

Even though it looked as though it was going to struggle with that much on board, as the rear of the van sat very low. But it was still a full two inches clear of the bump stops and handled the weight surprisingly well.

Bumps and undulations in the road didn’t fazed it, nor did average roads, but the Kangoo did tend to wander around in the back-end at highway speeds.

Any special features worth mentioning?

It takes a full-sized Australian pallet between the wheel arches, which is handy. It also has twin sliding doors as standard.

Our test vehicle was fitted with the optional Lifestyle pack which includes R-Link enhanced audio and navigation, leather steering wheel , rear air vents, body painted front and rear bumpers , gloss black door mirrors and extra tinted windows.

Any criticisms?

The radio controls are mounted behind the steering wheel, and are easily bumped when turning. The accelerator, clutch and brake pedals are too close together – you find your clutch foot catching the top of your brake foot when braking and downshifting, which can make you ‘stab’ the brakes unintentionally.  It misses out on a reverse camera as standard equipment and there’s no automatic option for this model.

Also, the windows in the sliding doors do not wind down but rather push open a few inches. The rear barn doors open in two stages, the first to a 90 degree angle while the second is out to a full 270 degrees, which is handy, but it requires releasing a separate latch around the side of the van and they don’t lock in place to stop them moving. We found this out the hard way when a slight breeze swung the doors shut, one of which gave us an almighty thud in the back while the other hit the pallet on the fork lift.


What else should I consider?

If safety is paramount then the VW Caddy is worth a look, while the Citroen Berlingo and Fiat Doblo represent viable alternatives.


The Kangoo Crew is a flexible small van if you need to mix work and family into the one vehicle, as there is plenty of room for both – even at the same time. But like others in its class the Kangoo is short changed in the safety department and doesn’t have a lot of creature comforts.

The Kangoo Crew is unfortunately not available in all country, some offering only the commercial option, the Renault Kangoo. You can find out more about that model here.

Article source: