Many would agree that the Renault Sandero is the perfect way to conclude to my Buying Your First Car guide and tips, In fact, it is. With Renault being quite active in the entry level hatchback segment I cannot think of a better brand and vehicle to adopt as your first.
Not to mention that the budget-beating Sandero is one of the most popular vehicles on our roads. And of course, it would not be popular if it was not for the price tag our test vehicle, the 1.6 Dynamique is priced at R129 900.
The good news is that Renault does not source its engine parts from Dacia, so it’s not to be confused with the Dacia Sandero. This includes the 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that also powers the latest Clio.
The good news is that this engine sounds a better deal cultured in the Sandero than in the Dacia; it does not emit a distinct rattle at tickover, and does not get loud when worked hard, with a three-cylinder crackle as the revs rise. It’s pretty smooth and delivers fairly brisk performance. That said, there’s a fair bit of wind- and road noise generated at motorway speeds.
The Sandero’s suspension isn’t the most sophisticated, either. The ride feels rather lumpy and the suspension sounds quite clattery around town, but then becomes increasingly wallowy as speed increases. There’s a fair bit of roll in corners, too, but because the steering gives you an encouraging amount of feedback, you always know which way the front wheels are pointing.
What’s it like Inside?
As well as being big on value, the Sandero is exceptionally big on space. There’s loads of room in the front, and those in the rear will never feel like second-class citizens, thanks to the generous head-, leg- and elbowroom.
What’s more, the Sandero actually feels even bigger than the tape measure suggests, because it has such large side windows.
The boot is huge compared with other entry levels, too, at 320 litres, and folding down the 60/40 split rear seatbacks frees up 1200 litres of space. However, they don’t fold down entirely flat, and leave a pronounced slope when tipped forward.
Given the price, it’s hardly surprising that the cabin finish is not particularly inspiring. The door panels and dashboard fascia are moulded from shiny, brittle plastics, the seat-height adjuster is crude and the floor carpets and boot lining also feel decidedly low rent.
Should you buy one?
Equipment levels are scant if you stick with the entry-level Access model, because it doesn’t even have a radio. Then again you might have to add a few thousand for a higher-spec model, and you’ll get Bluetooth and a CD player.
Even at this price the Sandero still looks like a bargain. It isn’t the most refined entry level vehicle and it’s certainly not big on frills or safety, but it does offer an abundance of space and unrivalled affordability.