Sandero a winner in value for money race
To give a more balanced view of our long-term Renault Sandero Ambiance, we decided to share it among the MotorMania team.
Obviously each critic looks for different things in a car and, while colleague Thomas Falkiner did highlight a couple of positives with the vehicle, he also made some valid criticisms in his review towards the end of last year.
Just to recap, his main gripe was a "rickety" driver's seat. To their credit though, Renault South Africa was quickly on the phone so the problem could be rectified.
Only problem was, by the time I got along to taking the car in for its 15000 service, there were a couple more niggles which needed to be fixed. The plastic holder for the manually-adjustable left wing mirror had come loose and was kind of dangling in mid-air, while a flap under the left hand side of the dashboard, failed to clip into place.
Strange thing is, a colleague had exactly the same faults with his Sandero, which is 18 months old. As mentioned, the problems were quickly rectified but it did take the gloss off what has been an extremely adequate car for the urban commute.
So, while the vehicle appears perfectly sound mechanically, the fact that a couple of problems have cropped up is of concern in what is still basically a new car.
And quite a few of those kilometres came courtesy of a five-day trip taken to Limpopo late last year.
Thanks to the ample boot the Sandero comes with, packing was a breeze and it quickly gobbled up a cooler box and an assortment of different sized bags.
What would be nice, though, is if the rear seats could be folded down individually to allow a bit more flexibility with luggage.
I've come to respect how frugal the Sandero is around town when it comes to sipping the juice, and on the open road it is equally thrifty.
Renault's claimed 7.0l/100km (combined) is probably just about spot on and while it easily gets up to 120km/h on the open road, it does run out of puff pretty quickly on the hills.
Overtaking needs to be carefully judged because, try as little 1.4 engine might, the 55kW of power with a car carrying three adults and enough luggage to make Imelda Marcos blush, is not all that reassuring.
And, just because the Sandero Ambiance is the French brand's entry-level vehicle doesn't mean it comes without a number of standard features.
First up, an air-conditioning unit is always a must, as are power steering and central locking. Non-negotiables in my book.
Then, on the safety front, one doesn't want to skimp, so the fact the Sandero comes with ABS brakes, two front airbags and electronic brake distribution, gives one a certain peace of mind.
There is no doubting the Sandero will not be everyone's cup of tea.
Whatever it may lack in styling and the over-the-top use of plastic in the interior, it more than makes up for as a value-for-money introduction to the motoring world.
Check the figures of the vehicle against some of its competitors and you will find the Sandero holds its own in just about every department.
Engine: 1390cc four-cylinder
Power: 55kW at 5500rpm
Torque: 112Nm at 3000rpm
0-100km/h: 13.0 seconds
Top speed: 161km/h (claimed)
Fuel consumption: 7.0l/100km