The previous generation Sandero and its Stepway variant were relatively successful thanks to spacious cabins, a bigger engine than its competitors and a low price tag. Some 3 000 Stepway models were sold per year since its introduction in 2011 which Renault will be hoping to increase with the new Romanian-built version.
In terms of design, the Stepway offers a more rugged looking version of the Sandero with silver roof rails, wheel arch trim and front/rear skid plates. There are also a few functional design elements such as the increased ground clearance which is now at 193mm and some 29mm higher than the standard car, including 16-ich steel wheels with rather convincing hub caps. The decision to make use of the steel versus alloy wheels was made to bring down the cost of replacing alloy wheels that are often damaged on our local roads.
Inside we see very much the same equipment as in the regular Sandero although now there is Park Distance Control at the rear to aid in reversing. You also get embroided seats with the Stepway nomenclature. There’s a leather-clad steering wheel and gear lever along with a radio/CD player that features Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Occupants benefit from electric mirrors and windows all around as well as a 292-litre boot. There’s also cruise control with a built-in speed limiter as standard.
The same 900cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine that is used in the Clio IV and smaller Sandero has been used in the Stepway. It produces 66kW/135Nm and is said to aid in both fuel consumption and emissions reductions. Claimed performance includes a 0-100km/h dash of 11.1 seconds and a top speed of 175 km/h accompanied with a slightly sporty engine thrum.
The little unit has an aluminium block to save weight and uses a timing chain instead of a belt which saves money in maintenance costs. Couple the added power with the claim that 95 percent of Renault parts are available within 24 hours and the new engine seems to make quite a bit of sense
There’s even an ECO mode function that electronically modifies the engine’s response and reduces consumption by up to 12 percent depending on driving styles and road conditions. The claimed consumption is just 5.4-litres/100km which presents an improvement of nearly 2.0 litres/100km when compared with the outgoing model.
Having briefly driven the Stepway I can report that it certainly feels like a solid product. I still prefer the regular model because it’s almostR20 000 cheaper and provides the same level of specification. The Stepway appeals to a different market, one where the buyer wants a bit more aesthetic appeal which this taller model certainly has.
Crossovers are popular locally and with the more expensive VW Polo Vivo Maxx and GWM C20R being the Stepway’s only natural rivals, at this price point I believe that Renault have a winner in this model.
Safety features include an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), anElectronic Stability Programme (ESP) as well as Hill Start Assist (HSA) which holds the vehicle for three seconds on an incline.
The New Sandero Stepway comes standard with a five-year/150 000kmwarranty plus a two-year/30 000km service plan.
Pricing: Renault Sandero Stepway Turbo 66kW 5-door R159 900.