Wednesday, 8 January 2020

2019 Renault Clio: great things come in small packages

Renault unveiled the fifth generation of the Renault Clio supermini - despite the outgoing version still selling well, being the third most popular car in Europe in January 2019.

It is the first car to be based on a new platform that will be shared by Renault's partners Nissan and Mitsubishi. It is 14mm shorter than the previous Clio yet Renault claims much greater passenger space.

The all-new version is said to more modern and athletic, combining "evolutionary exterior styling with revolutionary interior design", meaning sculpted lines and a more assertive front.

The interior is characterised by improvements in perceived quality, featuring a soft coating on the dashboard, door panels and centre console surround, and technology. A so-called ‘Smart Cockpit’ includes vertical, 9.3-inch vertical multimedia screen and a 10-inch TFT digital instrument binnacle replacing the model's traditional analogue display.

Other areas to which Renault paid particular attention are the steering wheel and the seats, with new designs and higher quality materials.

Renault claims that the 391-litre boot is the largest in the segment. The luggage area has a double floor, while the rear seats fold down to provide a totally flat load space.

Laurens van den Acker, senior vice-president of Corporate Design at Renault, said: “The fifth-generation Clio features the very best of the previous generations, from Group 1 Renault. The exterior design of Clio IV won over our customers and continues to do so today, so we chose to keep that DNA while bringing modernity and elegance to the new model.

“The interior has undergone a true revolution, with a considerable improvement in perceived quality, greater sophistication and technology. It is the best Clio ever.”

As part of Groupe Renault’s strategic plan, Drive the Future (2017-2022), the Renault Clio for sale will be the first Renault to include an E-Tech hybrid drivetrain. By the end of the plan in 2022, the group aims to sell 15 models equipped with autonomous driving technology. The new Clio's driver assistance systems are intended as the basis for making a driverless city car widely available.

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The Renault Megane is a real cracker


The Renault Megane for sale is here and if substance follows style then it promises to be very good indeed.

The car I am in this week is the GT Line hatch petrol a car that will appeal to both the family and possibly the fleet buyer. The GT- Line models sit higher up the specification ladder and are versions that are a little bit special with an emphasis on a sporty theme which adds to the appeal of the Megane hatchback.

So has it any street cred?

The style is fresh and contemporary, with bold lines. It is one of the most stylish new hatchbacks on the market, putting arch-rivals in the shade on the style stakes. The “California” 18-inch alloys look fantastic and the sweeping curves of the car look well. All in all the Megane hatch GT-Line looks very well indeed and I truly love the Flame red metallic paintwork!

What is it like inside?

The cabin layout is clean and concise, while the materials used feel top class except for a few hard touch plastics. The fit and finish of everything else is beyond reproach and the ergonomics of the design means everything is perfectly placed for ease of use.

The driving position is very good, you sit low feeling part of the car.

Standard equipment on the GT Line hatchback really is comprehensive (too much to list here) but highlights include multiple airbags, remote key card entry (just touch walk up to the car with the card on your person and the mirrors unfold and doors open), push-button start, auto-locking, (walk away it locks itself) Bluetooth, climate control, voice control, multi-function leather steering wheel, figure-hugging one-piece Sports Seats, the excellent Multimedia system with 8.7-inch touchscreen and TomTom live services with European navigation mapping, rearview camera, auto wipers, auto high beam assist and much more.

There is “mood lighting the colour of which is selectable as is the style of the digitally generated but analogue look instruments, drive modes, Neutral, Sport, Eco, Comfort, all very Impressive! Accommodation is pretty good all-round (though those high back sports seats make the rear a little claustrophobic) with adequate head and legroom both front and rear and a decent-sized boot with a full-size spare wheel.

What’s under the bonnet?

Powered by Renault’s TCe 140 petrol mated to a lovely 6-speed manual gearbox this winning combination proves excellent.

Performance is excellent and super quiet too and I returned an overall test average of 6.6 litres per 100km. All pretty good.

Will I enjoy driving it?
The set-up of the new Megane GT Line is pretty good offering a nice balance between comfort and handling. The ride is supple even over poor road surfaces and noise levels are well suppressed. On the motorway, it cruises easily at higher speeds and is a refined car in which to travel. The new Megane IV feels nimble and agile through corners too. Overall then its a very nice car to drive!

So to the verdict?
So here is a car that competes in one of the most competitive segments of the motor industry and its well up to the challenge. The Megane is a real cracker and available at your nearest Group 1 Renault dealership. Its high tech, very smart looking, packed full of standard kit, proves practical, frugal and is a pleasant drive.

What a lovely car!

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Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Renault's Sandero Stepway Plus punches above its weight in tough segment

South Africans appetite for pseudo crossovers has resulted in the popularity of vehicles like the Volkswagen Cross Polo and Sandero Stepway. 
Its the latter that I'm interested in as Wheels24 has one for a long-term test, and I've grown to like it despite some quirks. 
The French automaker says they've flogged 26 000 Stepways in eight years, and now for 2019 they've spruced up their flagship. 
New flagship
First you need to know that the Stepway Plus replaced the Dynamique model as the flagship of the Stepway range earlier in 2019. 
The Renault Sandero for sale has quite a bit of kit, more on that later though. To get it moving, the Stepway Plus is powered by a peppy 66kW 900cc turbocharged petrol engine. 
It's gutsy little three-cylinder that suffers from a mountain of turbo lag but once it gets going it's fine. Renault send the power to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. 
The 'box is a tad 'notchy' but I rather enjoyed rowing my own gears in the Renault, the clutch is light and bites early so it's not a difficult car to drive. 
Fuel consumption is good, I averaged around 6.0-litres per 100km during the week I had it, which was a combination of city and highway driving. 
What does the Stepway Plus add?
Keen-eyed Renault fans will notice new 16-inch two-tone wheel covers, glossy black door mirrors and the addition of three new colours. Our test unit is clad in 'Fusion Red', which is more maroon than Ferrari Red.
There are new LED daytime driving lights which add a dollop of premium to the Stepway, very nice Renault. 
On the specification side, standard kit includes side airbags, front and rear power windows, electric side mirrors, a leather steering wheel and gear knob and park distance control at the rear.
Chuck in cruise control and a reverse camera, and the Stepway Plus starts to look like good value. 
Leather pews are optional, our test car is fitted with cloth seats which are comfortable and soft. 

Inside, the Plus pulls big bunches over its rivals with access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as sat-nav on an integrated 17.78cm touchscreen.
It's easy to use and I merely plugged my phone via the USB port and CarPlay sprung to life. It's pretty simple and the touchscreen works well. 
I like the volume controls on the bottom right of the back of the steering wheel (a Renault trademark). 

I've enjoyed the past couple of weeks in the Sandero Stepway Plus, it feels durable, has enough tech and toys to keep a millenial happy. 
Test drive the Sandero for sale at Group 1 Renault.
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New Renault Clio hatchback: engine options confirmed...


When the new Renault Clio price was revealed late in January 2019, the French firm didn’t say much about engines. But now it has confirmed a range of five powerplants for the fifth-generation version of the hatchback.
The line-up will start with a naturally aspirated 1,0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine worth 56 kW and 95 N.m, and mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. Next up is a turbocharged 1,0-litre three-pot (already used in the Nissan Micra), which churns out 74 kW and 160 N.m. This engine, too, is linked to a five-speed manual cog-swapper as standard, although a CVT will also be offered.
Renault has furthermore confirmed a flagship turbocharged 1,3-litre, four-cylinder petrol mill, which produces 96 kW and 240 N.m of torque. This powerplant will apparently be offered exclusively with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Diesel-lovers will be glad to hear an oil-burning 1,5-litre, four-cylinder engine will also be part of the range (though whether this will come to South Africa remains to be seen), offering 64 kW and 220 N.m, sent to the front axle via a six-speed manual gearbox.
In addition, by 2020, Renault says it will introduce a hybrid powertrain, mating a naturally aspirated 1,6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor integrated into a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The result, the firm promises, is “highly responsive acceleration” and a regenerative braking effect similar to that of a fully electric vehicle. The automaker claims the hybrid tech will allow “up to 40 percent” fuel savings compared with an internal combustion engine vehicle on an urban driving cycle.
Of course, no official word yet on what sort of engine will power the new Clio RS…
To test drive the Renault Clio - visit your nearest Group 1 Renault dealership today!

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Tested: Renault's Megane RS is a matured maniac


In an age where hyper hatches like the Mercedes A45 AMG and Audi RS3 are closing the performance gap to blue-blooded sports cars, the Renault Megane RS continues to play the part of a properly evolved, middle-ground hot hatchback.
Now solely available as a five-door, the styling is softer but in a pleasing kind of way, and you get the impression that it’s no stranger to the bench press, thanks to those larger air intakes housing ‘chequered flag’ LEDs, wider fenders, 18- or 19-inch wheels and a big-boss diffuser incorporating a gigantic central exhaust tip.
But if you really want it to stand apart then the Sirius Yellow and Tonic Orange paint options are the way to go.
“I’ve grown up now but I still know how to party,” is what our test car seemed to be shouting in its bright yellow hue, and its spec sheet imparts the same kind of attitude.
We spent a week with an RS 280 Lux, which gets a six-speed EDC dual-clutch gearbox as standard, but those seeking old-school thrills can opt for the RS 280 Cup version that comes with a manual gearbox, along with sportier chassis settings and a mechanical limited slip diff.
The RS follows today’s engine downsizing trends with a brand new 1.8-litre direct injection turbopetrol. With 205kW ready to play at 6000rpm and 390Nm from 2400, it’s slightly more powerful and a whole lot torquier than the previous 2-litre, which produced between 195kW (Lux) and 201kW (Trophy), along with 360 newtons.
In fact it’s closer in output terms to the Golf R (213kW) than it is the GTI (169kW), despite being priced in the latter’s territory. Renault claims a zero to 100km/h figure of 5.8 seconds, with launch-control dialled in, which is well within the class ballpark.
But all of these powerful thoughts seemed to count for nothing as I pulled out of our office parking lot in downtown Joburg, into the sluggishly creeping daily grind, but it did give me a chance to test its worth as a daily driver.
It’s quite snug, for starters, with front occupants sinking into thick-bolstered, ultra-supportive Alcantara sports seats with integrated headrests. The cabin design is a bit on the demure side, but the atmosphere is lifted by mode-dependent mood lighting in the inner door panels and it has all the expected modern amenities, including dual-zone climate control, cruise control and a tablet-shaped vertical touch-screen infotainment system offering satnav, voice control and a reverse camera. Let’s not forget the RS Monitor with its comprehensive telemetry and other data that your inner car-geek will appreciate.
But the gadget that caught my attention was the Multi-Sense system, activated by a button on the centre console. It customises the steering, gearbox, accelerator and exhaust flap settings through five selectable modes: Comfort, Normal, Sport, Race and Personal - the latter allowing you to mix things up your own way.
In Comfort (max efficiency) or Normal (ultra safe ESP) modes, acceleration and gear changes are as gentle and smooth as you’d expect from an everyday hatch, just with a slightly livelier exhaust note lingering in the background like a beast locked in a basement.
Shift into Sport mode and those exhaust flaps activate to give the RS a relatively loud, throaty (albeit somewhat fake) bellow, while the throttle becomes more responsive and the steering sharpens up and the ESP stability nanny ends up in a more fun mood. ESP is disabled completely in Race mode, while the 4Control four-wheel steering system, standard on the RS, is geared for greater agility.
I found that Sport mode was best for lifting the mood in suburban traffic, with its amplified acoustics. This mode also delays gear changes if it senses you’re in the mood, occasionally leaving you stuck in a low gear after a bit of playful acceleration on pull-off or pulling into a busy street. Although I did wish the gearbox computing was a bit more intuitive to my pedal movements, it did what it was supposed to most of the time.
The weekend allowed me to stretch this Megane’s legs a little more, and hence a drive out to the Cradle of Humankind area allowed some bonding with the yellow beast.
This Megane has a refined feel to it, there’s no significant lag anywhere or torque steer and it just picks up speed like a bullet train, but as a result it stops just short of feeling brutal, and maybe that’s not a bad thing in this ever maturing end of the market.
This hatch is also happy to gobble up the corners at high speed, and it feels confidence-inspiring and ultra-nimble thanks to that rear-wheel steering although the tail can get a little light if you’re in Race mode.
The ride is on the firm side, but it’s certainly comfortable by performance car standards and Renault has done a great suspension tuning job here without resorting to expensive adaptive dampers.
Renault has done well to appease a diverse audience by offering a comfier dual-clutch Lux model as well as a sharper-chassis manual gearbox Cup, and there’s an even more hardcore 220kW Trophy on the way. They’re also competitively priced at Group 1 Renault in relation to rivals, particularly the Type R.
In Lux form, the new Renault has what it takes to please most of the people most of the time - it’s a comfy everyday ride with more than enough sizzle, even if it doesn’t quite possess the hard-core charm of its predecessors.

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Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Here's why the Renault Sandero is a great car for child safety

Shopping for a new or second-hand vehicle has seen requirement priorities change over the years, especially when the consumers are parents. Things like good looks and power figures are swapped out for safety features and driving aids.
Child occupant safety has become an important factor in safety crash test ratings as well. The new Renault Sandero Stepway Plus would probably not be the first car you would think of when you're considering vehicle safety, and especially the safety of your offspring should a collision occur.
We've all seen the aftermath of a crashed vehicle, or worse, witnessed a crash. It's not something you would want to think about but, it does help knowing there are cars available in our local market that has a very high child safety rating in the event of a crash.
renault sandero stepway plus

The Sandero has been rated best in class safety in 2017, further endorsed by a Global NCAP 4-star rating for child protection, that's even one more than its adult protection rating with three stars. The Sandero Stepway Plus, as well as the rest of the range, has front airbags, ABS, electronic brake distribution (EBD), electronic brake assist (EBA), electronic stability program (ESP), ASR, and hill start assist is standard across the range, further endorsed through 2017 Global NCAP 4-star rating for child protection.
As a mother to a little one, that gives me peace of mind when I'm driving the vehicle. Of course, this all means your child needs to be safely secured and strapped in a child seat, else the rating is null and void. 
No matter how safe a vehicle is, and how many features it has, strapping your children in correctly is imperative. The Sandero Plus has Isofix anchorages in all the passenger seats for child seats to be secured. The passenger airbag can also be deactivated when there is a younger child strapped in a baby seat in the front of the vehicle.
renault sandero stepway plus

According to the Global NCAP: "The Sandero achieved a three-star rating for adult occupant protection in the frontal crash test at 64km/h. The vehicle structure was rated as stable, offering acceptable general adult occupant protection. The car did not include seatbelt pretensioners. Using the child seats recommended by Renault, the Sandero achieved a four-star rating for child occupant protection.

If you want to experience the Renault Sandero first hand - book a test drive at Group 1 Renault today!

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Revamped Renault Captur takes on a multitude of rivals

The Captur, Renault's smallest crossover, has so many rivals on the market - can it compete?

What is it?
The compact Renault Captur for sale has been around for a little while now, and that's why the French manufacturer has deemed it fit for an update. There's good reason, too; the compact crossover segment is growing steadily by the day, and consumers are savvier than ever - so any car not worth its salt will start faltering in the dealerships.
Though it's based on the same platform as the Clio, the Captur is able to offer a touch more space than its hatchback cousin, along with that all-important bump in ride height so wanted by buyers today. Back in 2016 the Captur was Europe's best-selling urban crossover, so it's understandable why the changes aren't ground-breaking.

What's new?

Renault hasn't messed with the Captur's formula too much - this is a mid-life facelift, after all - which is why the changes to the exterior are blink-and-you'll-miss-them subtle. You've got C-shaped LED daytime running lights up front (bringing it closer in line to the larger Kadjar) and there are LED lights at the rear too.
You've got a wider choice of alloy wheels to pick from as well, and there are redesigned kick plates in place to give the Captur a chunkier, more go-anywhere look.

What's under the bonnet?

Powering our test car was a dinky 0.9-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with 89bhp and 140Nm. Renault claims that it'll power the Captur to 60mph in 12.9 seconds, and onwards to a 106mph top speed.
Sending power to the front wheels through a five-speed manual 'box, it'll return a claimed 52.3mpg combined, while emitting 122g/km CO2.
A diesel variant is available, again packing 89bhp, while there's a more powerful petrol available too with just shy of 150bhp. It's the only the latter powertrain that's available with an automatic gearbox, should that be something you're after. It means there's a pretty decent spread of engine options available, providing something for nearly everyone.

What's it like to drive?

Take one glance at the engine specs for the Captur and it's immediately obvious that it's not going to set the tarmac alight. Though the forward progression isn't swift by anyone's standards, there's enough puff to merge on to a motorway safely - though once you're there, you'll need to drop a gear when overtaking.

How does it look?
The Captur is quite unassuming in its style. It's not boring, and neither is it outlandish. The C-shape daytime running lights help give it a touch more presence. Chrome accents around the car do elevate it slightly, making it appear ever-so-slightly more premium. GT-Line cars, like our test vehicle, get 17-inch alloy wheels, contrast roof and door mirrors, and grey front and rear skid plates too for a little bit of that faux-SUV style.

What's it like inside?

The interior of the Captur reflects the car's exterior look. Everything works and is logically placed. Interior space is decent enough, and there's a good amount of headroom available for driver and passengers - though legroom is a touch tight for adults riding in the back.
Boot space is reasonable, with 377 litres on offer with all seats in place. You can slide the rear seats forward to offer up more boot space - and there's 455 litres to play with when you do. The rear bench also folds 60:40 to create an even larger load area.

What's the spec like?

Our test car came in GT Line specification, and this sees the Captur fitted with all manner of standard equipment. There are a variety of chrome elements applied to areas in the cabin, while a 'Premium Pack' sees aluminium pedals and sunglasses storage added.

Part leather upholstery helps to lift the overall feel of the car's cabin, too. The Captur also benefits from Renault's R-Link infotainment system, which uses a seven-inch colour touchscreen to control aspects such as satellite navigation (a TomTom-sourced system) and smartphone integration. It's not a terrible system, but it does lack the level of clarity and ease-of-use that we've come to expect from more modern systems.

You also get front and rear parking sensors which, despite being fitted to a relatively compact car, make parking the Captur a little easier.


With such a wide array of compact crossovers on the market, it could be easy to simply dismiss the Captur. However, thanks to decent levels of standard equipment and a low list price at Group 1 Renault, it could be a good option for those who want a value-for-money runaround. An efficient range of engines and well-sized boot mean the Captur could prove to be a reliable choice for many.

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