Renault Sandero Turbo Dynamique review

Renault-Sandero-2-039New Renault Sandero Turbo Dynamique

The new Renault Sandero should be the car that really puts Renault on the map in South Africa. It should sell in droves.  It is good looking, handles nicely, is guaranteed for 5 years and is very affordable.

The Sandero is a budget small family car with a generous boot.

In Dynamique guise it has all the bells and whistles and is really good value for money.

All new Sanderos come with a full suite of electronic safety aids, even hill start assist, front airbags and ISO Renault-Sandero-2-012childseat anchors. They also all have central locking, electric front windows, radio fingertip controls, Bluetooth and power steering.

The top model of the new Sandero adds airconditioning, cruise control, onboard computer, rear electric windows, 2 more airbags and foglamps.

In a nutshell, the new Sandero is well equipped.

I found the seats comfortable. The fabric looks and feels good and appears to be durable. The interior is functional, smart and seems well put together. Five adults can fit in, if for shortish distances. It also has a large boot.

The multi-function steering wheel feels good and the steering is good for its class and actually gives you feedback.

The engine is a new generation turbo petrol delivering 66kW and 135Nm of torque. Do not worry that it is a 3 cylinder 900cc unit. It has a very low inertia turbo combined with Variable Valve Timing which results in exceptional performance.  All the manufacturers are going in this direction. It felt more powerful to me than a typical German 1.2 turbodiesel engine. I found it to be willing and well suited to the Sandero.

Renault-Sandero-2-112

Handling and roadholding is good and at least matches its competition. It is based on the same platform as the fourth generation Clio so inherits the good road manners of its sibling.

The first three gears are quite close, giving you lots of grunt when you need it, but the last two are designed for the open road and good economy.

Renault claims a mixed cycle fuel consumption of 5.2 litre per 100km. This is very optimistic. Expect between 6 and 7 l/100km. Top speed is 175km/h and you will get to 100km/h in just over 11 seconds.

The plus factors for this car are:Renault-Sandero-2-077

Interior space and a big boot

Great price, exceptional value

Good looks, modern design

Expansive standard equipment list

I think the new Sandero has shifted the goalposts in the affordable small car market. It is a very good affordable small car with space to seat 4 adults in comfort. You get a lot of car for your money.

It should make a good business car, especially considering the five year warranty.

Price as tested: R141 500. The base model Expression is R123 900 (R133 900 with aircon).

Warranty is a very good 5 years or 150 000 and the service plan is for 2 years or 30 000km.

Also look at the Toyota Etios, Volkswagen Polo Vivo and Ford Figo.

Suzuki Celerio

Suzuki Celerio

The new Celerio is the first Suzuki model to be fitted with the  new automated manual gearbox, which allows clutchless operation of a manual gearbox without the energy losses usually associated with conventional torque converter-based automatic transmissions. Very clever.

The Celerio range replaces the Ato as the entry level offering in South Africa, but is a little bigger.

Suzuki Celerio

Suzuki Celerio

Suzuki finally offers a new generation normally aspirated three-cylinder one litre engine, in this case case delivering 50kW and 90Nm and promising less than 5 litre/100km fuel consumption.

This mini hatchback gives the impression of space on the inside thanks to its tall roof.

The Celerio is 100 mm longer and 70 mm taller than the outgoing Alto, while width has remained exactly the same. The wheelbase has increased by 65 mm to 2 425 mm, which greatly benefits interior space.

celerio dashCompared to the Alto, headroom in the Celerio has improved by 21 mm in front, and by 43 mm at the rear. Significantly, there is also 60 mm more elbow room for rear occupants. The Celerio’s extended wheelbase has boosted rear legroom by 50 mm, while the rear footwells are 28 mm wider.

At 235 litres, the luggage capacity is best in class, while the large tailgate opens all the way down to bumper level, reducing the load sill height to just 692 mm.

The  new automated manual gearbox uses an electro-hydraulic actuator to change gears without the need for a clutch pedal. The system offers both full auto and manual shift modes, and ensures a smooth shift action by synchronising clutch control, gearshift action and engine speed.

The AMT can operate in fully automatic mode, or in manual override, allowing the driver to change gears manually. There’s also a creep mode, which ensures smooth operation in stop-start urban traffic.

The Celerio is the most fuel efficient automatic car in our market.

Dual front SRS airbags, an ABS anti-lock braking system, inertia reel seatbelts, childproof door locks and a high-mounted third brake light are all standard.

The new Celerio is available in a choice three models, all powered by the same engine, but offering two transmission options and two specification levels: GA and GL.

The top of the range 1.0i GL AMT Alloy CR5 seems to be the best buy.

1.0i GA MT (No service plan) CR1             R109 900
1.0i GA MT Alloy (No service plan) CR2 R112 900
1.0i GL MT CR4                                            R124 900
1.0i GL MT Alloy CR3                                  R127 900
1.0i GL AMT CR6                                         R135 900
1.0i GL AMT Alloy CR5                              R138 900

Retail price includes a 2 yr / 30 000km service plan

Hyundai Accent Hatch 1.6 Fluid Manual review

Hyundai Accent 1.6

Hyundai Accent 1.6

Accent Hatch 1.6 Fluid Manual

There is a very small gap between the i20 and the i30 models in the Hyundai hatch range. Hyundai says so. Its called the Accent Hatch. No t to be confused with the Accent sedan, which feels a different car.

The Accent Hatch is an economical, value for money model which stands apart from the normal range, aimed at the company car niche.

The hatch looks quite modern on the outside and is plain but pleasant on the inside. It is a no frills but not a stripped down offering from the Korean value car brand. It is a car you would not buy based on an emotional response. Its practical, affordable transport. Its bland enough that your bookkeeper would buy one, much like she would have bought an old Corolla 15 or 20 years ago. In a way the Acccent Hatch replaces the Toyota Conquest niche in the market. That is not a bad thing.

The interior is much like the sedan with which it shares many components. Instrumentation is very complete as is the list of comfort equipment.

The seats remain comfortable even after 30 minutes and seem to have a durable cloth covering, leather is a R8 000 option. The fit and finish is good and materials although not luxurious are fine.

Equipment includes steering wheel-mounted audio controls, USB/aux ports for multimedia, integrated Bluetooth for phone calls and music streaming, height adjustable steering wheel, height-adjustable driver’s seat, four-speed air conditioner, and park distance control.

Hyundai Accent 1.6 Fluid

Hyundai Accent 1.6 Fluid

On the road the Accent performs acceptably. Steering is a little light for my liking, but effective. It is not a peppy drive, but rather steady and sedate, a result of being set up for economy. Hyundai claims 6.4l/100km in general use. In reality it is more like 7.4, which is still good.

I found the road noise to be more than expected. On the open road it has a bit of a whine or drone which I found irritating.

The six speed manual gearbox is good but the rather ancient four speed automatic should be treated with circumspection.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a shabby offering, it’s just not exciting. It is a practical car solution for somebody who just wants reliable wheels. It is worth a look.Accent-Hatch-108

The car as tested costs R234 900, which I feel is a little expensive. I would rather go for a Suzuki Swift at R188 900.

Also look at the Ford Figo, VW Vivo, Kia Rio, Hyundai i20, Toyota Yaris, Suzuki Swift or Renault Sandero.

The manufacturer’s warranty is for a good  5 Year / 150 000 km and the service plan for 5 years or 90 000 km.

 

 

Nissan NV200 diesel review

NV200-thumb

NV200

Nissan NV200 – Leading the way

The Nissan NV200 is an exceptionally practical vehicle, especially in diesel guise. Whether as a panel van or a microbus, the VN200 is compelling.

We tested the petrol version.

The 200 range of Nissan commercial vehicles comprising of the bakkies, NP200, and the vans, NV200, are the most complete and possibly best value range in South Africa. While the bakkies completely dominate their segment, the vans still have to catch up to the more established VW Caddy range.

Nissan-NV200-031

Internationally the NV200 is becoming the dominant small bus. It has been selected as the taxi of choice in both New York and London. A hybrid and an electric model are on the way.

You will have to search far and wide to find a better vehicle to use as a taxi or small shuttle.

Nissan-NV200-041It has the biggest ‘boot’ space of all the small busses at 340dm ³ and the best access.

I immediately liked the vehicle. It does everything smoothly and effortlessly. The NV200 is easy to drive. The combination of relative light weight, peppy engine, light steering and smooth gearbox contribute to car like handling. It is really pleasant to travel in.

This little van from Nissan is the class leader by quite a margin. It goes well, handles well and has loads of space.

This is the second NV200 I have tested. I am almost more impressed this time round. It delivers so much more than it promises looking at it from a distance.

Nissan-NV200-007The interior has been well designed and is practical, comfortable and appears to be durable. Standard equipment include multi-function steering wheel, aircon, radio/CD with aux and USB inputs, Bluetooth for audio streaming and hands-free cellphone, powered external mirrors and windows, front fog lights, loads of storage compartments and a full spare wheel.

This van has very generous space considering its compact dimensions, with 4.2 cubic metres of volume in the rear and a 739kg payload, space for two Europallets, while loads up to 1.36 metres in height can be carried.

A big plus are the sliding doors on both sides. Very practical.Nissan-NV200-036

The 1.5dCi diesel produces good torque and delivers superb fuel economy of around 5.5 to 6 litres per 100km. The 1.6i petrol has more power but expect fuel consumption around 8 l/100km.

Expect to see many of these combis and vans on our roads soon.

Whether you are looking for a small bus/ 7 seater or a smaller van the NV200 has to be on your shopping list.

Also consider the VW Caddy, Toyota Avanza, the slightly smaller Honda Mobilio and even the Suzuki Ertiga. Other vans to look at are the Fiat Doblo and Renault Kangoo.

The diesel van costs R245 900, petrol R221 900, the diesel Combi or bus R303 900, petrol R277 900.

Warranty is 3 years or 100 00km, service intervals are 15 000km.

Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDI review

MB GLA 200 CDI

MB GLA 200 CDI

Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDI

This is a very competent, practical compact luxury car. It rides highish off the ground so farm roads are a doddle. You also sit more upright and higher, giving excellent visibility.

Performance is between good and excellent. Handling and roadholding match the class leaders in this crossover SUV niche.

Mercedes replaced the old A Class with 3 models. A sporty range called the CLA, the normal one called the A and a cross-over that superficially looks like the A, the GLA. The GLA rides higher than the A and is a little bigger all round. Many will feel this is the most practical  new baby Benz.

MB-GLA200--1-011

There are two petro and two diesel models, three  style  lines and three add on packages.

The 200 is a 1.6 petrol engine with electronically controlled direct petrol injection through piezo injectors and a turbocharger. Claimed fuel consumption is 6 litres/100km, but expect around a still exceptional  7. The 250 4matic has a 1.9 engine, more performance and  is a little thirstier but still very good.

The 200 CDi is a 2.1 litre  turbodiesel with high-pressure fuel injection common-rail technology, VTG turbocharger and EDC. The 220 CDi is the same engine but with more punch. Claimed  diesel consumption is 4.5 to 5 l/100km. Aim for 6, but be easy on the throttle.

The GLA comes in a choice of three lines “Style”, “Urban” and “AMG Line” .

Amongst the many optional extras to choose from, are the large panoramic sliding sunroof, or the EASY-PACK tailgate, which can be opened and closed at the push of a button.

MB-GLA200--1-084dashStandard equipment includes multifunction steering wheel, eco start/stop, Collision prevention assist, which warns the driver visually and audibly of insufficient distance to the vehicle travelling ahead or of stationary objects, attention assist, cruise control, climate control, automatic lights and adaptive brakes.

In addition there are three style packages: Night, Exclusive and AMG Exclusive. Highlights of the Exclusive package, for example,  (available for all three lines) include heated sports seats with 4-way lumbar support for driver and front passenger, leather-covered, like the multifunction steering wheel and the gearshift lever.

It is all a little confusing and almost too much for me. In the showroom it is a little easier to get you head round the choices, but beware, costs mount rapidly.

MB-GLA200--1-007I liked the car. I think  Mercedes mostly got it right and it does feel like a baby Benz. The interior, apart from the protruding multimedia screen, is very pleasant and has enough space for a smaller car.

If you prefer a hatch type shape of car and a little more ride height MB have got it right with this car. Not cheap though.

Also look at the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Nissan Qashqai, Subaru XV, Volvo V40 Cross Country and Ford Kuga.

As tested R422 700 plus options R120 450 for a total of R543 150. Options are reversing camera, active park assist, paoramic sunroof, 7G-DCT automatic box, COMMAND online, tow-hook, Bi-Xenon headlamps, easy pack tailgate, Exclusive package, mirrors, night pack and urban line.

The range starts at R421 800, and goes to R760 800 for the GL45 AMG. We would recommend the G LA200 Auto at R461 947.  Two formidable competitors stand out. The Ford Kuga 2.0TDCi AWD Titanium is R448 900 fully and comprehensively equipped. The Volvo V40 Cross CountryD4 Excell at R395 000 is a complete package.

All GLA models come standard with a 6-years/100 000 km maintenance contract and two year unlimited warranty.

 

 

Chevrolet Orlando LS 1.8 review

chev_orlando-thumbChevrolet Orlando

GM’s smaller multi purpose vehicle, the Orlando manages to be a little van, 7 seater bus and car all in one. And all in a neat, versatile  package. It would make a great taxi.

Think of it as an upmarket Avanza. It is slightly wider and longer than the Avanza and feels much more solid.

In SA we only get only one model. But GM has chosen it well. It is a 1.8 petrol manual with standard but good hard working trim and a good specification level.

Interior Chevrolet Orlando

Interior Chevrolet Orlando

The vehicle has 16 different seating combinations, meaning  you really can fit seven adults into the Orlando or when in van mode, a driver and a jumbo load.

Passengers will find the inside of the Orlando is surprisingly roomy with more than enough leg- and headroom. Access to the third row is OK, but headroom a little limited.

Load volume at the back is between 100 and 800 litres depending on how you have folded the seats. Fold down the rear seats and you’ve got a 1499 litre load space.The  cabin feels like a car, with neat finishes and a plethora of map pockets, armrests with cup holder, and quite a few nooks and crannies to keep things in.

Power windows for driver and front passenger are standard as is a good sound system, cruise control and power steering.

The interior is upmarket compared to the cheaper Avanza and is pleasantly finished reminding one of the Cruze, its sedan sibling.

Chevrolet Otlando

Chevrolet Otlando

The Orlando does not lack safety and security systems.  It comes with anti theft alarm and immobiliser.

An  ‘Electronic Stability Control’ system provides traction control to help avert slides, by automatically applying corrective braking to appropriate wheels to help you quickly regain control. It also has ABS and electronic brake distribution with an additional brake assist system.

Driving the Orlando is easy and pleasant. All round visibility is surprisingly good and it handles well in the context of an MPV. Road holding is above par for this category. The Cruze roots shine through.

Chevrolet Orlando 1.8 LS

Chevrolet Orlando 1.8 LS

GM claims 7.2l/100km but work on 8 in general and around 6 on the open road, which is very acceptable.

Priced from R287 000 you get real value for money.

The Warranty & Roadside Assistance package is  5 years/120 000km.  The Service Plan is for 3 years /60 000km.

Also look at the Toyota Avanza 1.3  from R190 000, Suzuki Ertiga 1.4 starting at around R160 000, VW Caddy 1.6 from R190 000 or the Nissan NV200 1.6 Combi R254 800.

First published in Small Business Connect.

Renault Sandero 66kw turbo Stepway review

Sandero-Stepway-thumbRenault Sandero Stepway

The original Stepway was the best-selling model in the previous Sandrero range as its raised ride height, adventure aura and value proposition made it the most desirable model. I predict the same is going to happen with these new cars. Renault have a winner, and we as consumers also get to win. A good car, great features and excellent price.

The Sandero Stepway is an affordable yet classy small car with a tougher than usual stance, more ride height, pleasant handling and well equipped interior with fair space and good finish . It is great value for money and surprises with its comprehensive levels of equipment and good handling for a slightly tall car.

Sandero Stepway 66kW 2014

Sandero Stepway 66kW 2014

The interior of the Sandero is very practical and comes with electric windows, air-conditioning, sound system, finger tip controls, Bluetooth, cruise control and central locking. A nice touch is the chunky leather clad steering wheel and gear knob. A major step up from the previous generation. The cabin is much more upmarket than the original model. It also appears to be well put together.

Sandero Stepway 2014 dash

Sandero Stepway 2014 dash

The cloth covered seats look great and are comfortable over normal distances. The back seats fold down in a 60/40 split while the boot offers luggage capacity of 292 litres.

The new cutting edge three-cylinder 1-litre turbo beats the 1.6-litre engine used in the previous Stepway in every way – power, fuel consumption and performance. This is the future. Together with Ford’s amazing little three cylinder these engines show the way forward. Acceleration is better than average for B segment cars and fuel consumption much less than average at around 6 litre/100km. A win-win situation.

The Stepway has all the required safety features from the basics such as Emergency Brake Assist, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake-force distribution and electronic stability programme to hill start assist and rear parking sensors.

The Stepway will make an excellent little workhorse that will be equally at home on gravel roads as in town. I enjoyed the week I spent driving it. There was always enough power and it is big enough to sit properly on the road. Renault have done well with this one.

The Stepway costs around R15 000 more than the standard Sandero. You get extra ground clearance (29mm), roof rails, skid panels, styling differences, 16” wheels and rear parking sensors. You also get a better looking car, in my opinion.

Renault Sandero Stepway

Renault Sandero Stepway

Alternatives include the Ford Ecoboost, Renault’s own Duster, VW VivoMaxx and the Toyota Etios Cross; all (except the Etios) substantially more expensive.

The Renault Sandero Stepway costs R159 900, that’s not much of a premium over the Sandero Dynamique at R141 500.

The Stepway comes with an excellent five-year or 150 000km warranty and a two-year or 30 000km service plan.