A healthy performance boost and some first-in-class technology headline the 2014 Renault Sandero Stepway.
Safety also gets a step up in this second-generation Stepway. The base Sandero’s 4-star Euro NCAP rating, although not among the small-car leaders, eclipses the 3-star score of its predecessor. Driver aids on the Stepway range from ABS with Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) to stability and traction control and Hill Start Assist. Both front and side airbags are standard.
The Stepway recipe hasn’t changed much. It’s still a combination of size, space, killer features and a very competitive price. This time, though, there’s a touch more pizzazz. Its exterior styling, for instance, hints at Renault more than the Dacia on which the car is based.
As before, at 193 mm ground clearance the Stepway stands higher than the regular Sandero. It should be quite capable off the beaten track. Skid plates front and rear, fog lamps and roof rails add to the car’s crossover vibe. And, although pitched in the subcompact class, it is a genuine 5-seater. The boot is a substantial 292 litres with 60/40 split folding rear bench seat access.
Several tech features have never before seen in this price bracket, according to Renault. They list Bluetooth, multi-function fingertip radio controls, cruise control plus speed limiter, rear parking sensors and Eco mode. The latter electronically modifies engine responses in favour of fuel economy. As much as 12 per cent improvement in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions is claimed.
The outgoing Stepway’s trusty yet relatively unsophisticated 1,6 gives way to a high-tech turbocharged 900-cm3 66 kW three-cylinder. That’s the same unit used in Renault’s Clio. An all-aluminium block, low inertia turbo and variable valve timing (VVT) are among the tech headliners. Renault says it also benefits from F1-derived innovations such as Diamond-Like Carbon coatings that cut friction and a High Tumble Strategy to optimise air/fuel-mix flow. That’s good for 0 to 100 in 11,1 seconds and a top speed of 175 km/h. Also, whereas the old engine wasn’t much less powerful, it was significantly thirstier. In contrast, the new car gets almost 2 litres per 100 km better at 5,4.
This little – well, not so little – crossover has done rather well for Renault locally. Introduced just 3 years ago, the Stepway now ranks among the country’s top 10 sellers, selling more than 3 000 a year. That’s likely to continue, thanks to what looks a highly competitive package.
Price: R159 900, including a 5-year/150 000km warranty and two-year/30 000km service plan (service intervals: 15 000 km).