This weekend past I has the opportunity to drive the Renault Sandero 1.6 United, a car marketed as having ample space, in fact, the most space in its class. I took the opportunity with both hands, and put this "little" car to the test.
The first thing I noticed when approaching my charcoal coloured Sandero, was that it actually looks quite good. Sure its no fancy sports car, but the Renault Sandero is certainly not offensive in any way. The car seems well put together and flows nicely. The charcoal colour also worked quite nicely on the model and worked nicely with the grey interior. So far we were off to a good start.
A quick trip around the car testing things soon brought many nuances to light. The boot for example doesn't have a regular handle, and requires a second look to figure out how to open it. Though it really is simply enough, straying from the generally accepted norms can be quite disconcerting for first time drivers, myself included. The Sandero also didn't seem very big, in fact I likened it to a 4 door hatch in many ways and wasn't overconfident that it would be able to live up to Renault's space claim.
On entering the drivers seat and playing around, I was once more presented with certain foreign intricacies. The window winders worked in reverse, the dash seemed to be presented in code and no matter how many times I turned the radio down, it would always return to a default volume when starting the car (though this may have been unique to my Sandero). On the positive side, everything seemed easy enough to figure out, the seats were comfortable, and the car did come with some bells and whistles - air conditioning (an essential in the hot Durban climate) and power steering, not to mention a small bag of mint imperials. The other overwhelmingly impressive thing was the space. It is strange, but Renault have somehow managed to create space without flaunting it. The space is certainly there, large objects just seems to fit, and I had 4 small adults comfortable seated in the back seat. The Sandero is actually deceivingly large, despite its diminutive looks. At least Renault had delivered on their main claim to fame, always a positive.
Aesthetics aside, it was time to begin my weekend away and take the Sandero out onto the open road. Air conditioning blowing full steam ahead, we eked out of the parking bay and began our mission. While not the most powerful car, even with the air con on and a full car, the Sandero seemed to drive alright. It was sufficient for urban driving. The car did seem to increase in size on the road, and I often felt I was straying out of my lane. Still, the drive was smooth enough, until we hit the highway. The major negative point for me about the Renault Sandero was the cars ability at higher speeds. Hitting 120km/h and the car seemed to bounce all over the road, the steering wheel begun to shake and the steering seemed so sensitive that the faintest touch would have the car leaping from side to side. This was certainly not a performance machine, but then again, it was never supposed to be. If you are looking for performance however, keep looking, this is not your car.
In my opinion, the Renault Sandero is a great urban family car. Aesthetically pleasing, spacious, fairly inexpensive and well constructed. The extra features are a nice touch and make the drive comfortable. It delivers on its promises, and is a great addition to its class of car.