The Renault Sandero first entered the market in 2009 and I used to look at the first-gen Sandero models as those boring vehicles that nobody wanted yet people still bought them in huge quantities.
With that said, over 64 100 units of the Sandero have found homes in South Africa since 2009 and over 30 500 Stepway variants have been sold since their introduction in 2011.
So, as a manner of celebrating the Stepway’s success, the French automaker introduced the new Sandero Stepway Techroad that sits on top of the Sandero range and its keys were handed to me for a full week.
Although I grappled with spotting the differences between the other models in the Sandero range, changes are there.
Besides the familiar C-shaped daytime running lights as well as C-shaped rear lights, the Techroad is fitted with newly designed front and rear bumpers.
Other exterior styling cues include an integrated roof spoiler, roof bars and rear skid plates that give the Stepway an off-road stance. The Sandero Stepway Techroad rides on 16-inch hub capped wheels.
The cabin feel is not bad at all although you get a lot of plastic material on the dash and on the door panels yet everything is well put. The space inside is generous with ample leg and headroom.
The luggage space is measured at 292 litres and if you think that is not enough, folding the rear seats can further expand it.
The seven-inch infotainment system allows Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as well as Bluetooth and a reverse camera. It is the same system that lurks in the Kwid and I found it very easy to fiddle with.
The infotainment system comes fitted with on-board navigation and honestly, I never used it even once, thanks to the Android Auto smartphone mirroring feature that let me project my phone’s Waze on the Sandero’s infotainment system via a USB connection.
On the road, the Sandero Stepway tries to shine but not so much.
The 0.9-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with 66 kW and 135 Nm delivers adequate shove, however, there is a huge amount of turbo lag below 2 000rpm.
Build up the revs and the engine pulls off smoothly with no hesitation in all five gears.
There is plainly nothing fancy about how the Sandero Techroad goes about its riding business, it is marginally comfortable and its raised height means you can take a short left and go over gravel roads.
The suspension is fairly soft and manages to suck up most bumps pretty well, and even potholes do not send particularly nasty jolts through the car.
However, too much of road surface roughness is channelled up through the steering column, so you feel vibrations through your fingers.
After a week with the car, I managed to score 7.1l/100km instead of the 5.4l/100km claimed by Renault. Safety comes courtesy of airbags, ABS with ESP and ASR as standard. It is also fitted with EBA and HSA.
In conclusion, the styling of the Renault Stepway Techroad gives it a sense of purpose and whatever that the French brand did to make it impressive, works.
Apart from all the shortfalls I have mentioned, it is still a great vehicle and would recommend it.
Pricing is at R243 900.
The Sandero Stepway Techroad comes with Renault’s 5-year / 150 000 km warranty together with a standard 2-year / 30 000 km service plan. Services are at 15 000km intervals.