MIOVENI, ROMANIA - Following the release of the first pictures a month back, but with little in the way of detail, Renault’s Dacia brand has fully revealed its new Sandero, Stepway and Logan range of budget cars, giving us a glimpse inside and revealing the engine range.
The compact car range is designed by Dacia in Romania, but they’re badged as Renaults in some parts of the world, including South Africa. On that note, Renault South Africa has not yet confirmed whether the third-generation Sandero and Stepway are on course for our market.
Although it shares many of its parts with other Renault products, which is one of the reasons they’re able to position it as a budget car, the new Sandero has migrated to a new platform, that being Renault-Nissan’s CMF modular architecture that also underpins the Renault Clio. Despite this, the Sandero has the same external dimensions as its predecessor, albeit with increased interior space and improved versatility.
As before, buyers can choose from a regular hatch model as well as an SUV-inspired Stepway variant that comes with a rugged-looking styling package. It’s interesting to note that the Stepway accounts for 65 percent of all Sandero sales. For those who prefer a traditional boot, there’s also a Logan sedan body style, although this hasn’t been sold in SA since the first-generation so it’s an unlikely contender for our market.
New 1-litre engines
On the engine front, a trio of new 1-litre, three-cylinder engines have been announced for the European market, with a normally aspirated variant kicking things off with 48kW. This is an unlikely contender for SA as it won’t mix well with our high altitudes, so the obvious option for us would be the 66kW TCe 90, which replaces the previous 0.9-litre turbo-triple. The TCe 90 is available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a brand new CVT unit.
European customers can also order a 74kW bi-fuel version of the 1-litre motor, which runs on LPG.
More upscale cabin
Moving inside, Dacia has put considerable effort into creating a more upmarket look and feel inside, with upgraded materials and some colourful additions like orange trim in the Stepway models. It’s still more budget car than boutique hatch, however, and you won’t find fancy things like digital instrument clusters in this one.
The higher-spec variants are more luxurious, however, with automatic climate control and a keyless start system now fitted to the Stepway Prestige model.
Dacia mentions two multimedia systems: a basic radio that’s linked to a smartphone cradle next to the instrument cluster (in what looks like a case of ‘bring your own screen’), and a new 20.3cm ‘Media Nav’ touchscreen system that pairs wirelessly with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Safety has also been enhanced with driver assistance features such as Emergency Brake Assist, which is standard, as well as Blind Spot Warning and Park Assist.