Road tests 5.7.2018 08:30 am

TESTED: Renault Stepway versus the Kwid

Both have three-cyclinder engines, but Stepway has a turbocharger too.

This is a tale of two cars that are related, but could hardly be more different in how they would appeal to potential owners.

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I am talking about Renault’s Kwid and Sandero Stepway Plus models.

The Kwid is currently Renault’s best-selling model worldwide, despite a huge uproar about its poor safety standards.

Monthly sales of the Kwid exceeded 10 000 vehicles since its launch in late 2016. It also came third as South Africa’s best-selling passenger car in December 2017, with 1 120 units sold.

The Stepway has also been selling well, with over 50 000 units sold thus far. Both cars are powered by a three cylinder petrol engine.

However, the Kwid has 50kW of power and 91Nm of torque, while the Stepway Plus boasts a turbocharger, endowing it with 66kW and 135Nm.

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Both cars feature a smooth five-speed manual transmission.

I recently spent time with the new, limited-edition Renault Kwid Climber and, was less than impressed by various things.

It is distinguishable from the other Kwids by an Electric Blue exterior, Climber insignia with orange trimmings, plus rails sporting orange accents on the roof.

The orange detailing continues inside with a piano black centre fascia with orange contours and the bespoke Climber insignia on the headrests of the two-tone seats.

The orange accents extend to the door trims, side air vents, twotone gear knob and steering wheel with unique orange perforations.

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You get an 18cm touchscreen display that feels old-fashioned although it functioned well.

Renault says the Kwid is targeted at firsttime car buyers. Now, first time car buyers are mostly inexperienced and therefore more likely to crash their vehicles.

People say that buying the Kwid is safer than being in a taxi or walking, but I argue their reasoning is flawed.

If safety features are easily available, they should be fitted. I think the excitement of owning a new car should be no reason to neglect safety.

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The Kwid comes with one airbag for the driver and no ABS to back it up. But despite misgivings about its safety prowess, the Kwid makes a good run-around car to the local mall.

I took it on a longish highway cruise and found it has a tendency to be knocked around by winds when large vehicles pass.

I managed to average a fuel usage figure of 6.5-litres/100km from its 28 litre fuel tank.

Renault charges R148 900 for its Kwid Climber. At the price there are alternatives with all the bells and whistles when it comes to safety.

Thus, you may well consider buying a Hyundai i10 or a Kia Picanto.

I also recently tested the new Renault Sandero Stepway Plus, which replaces the popular Sandero Stepway Dynamique derivative.

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It is fitted with specific badging, plus 16-inch wheels with twotone flexwheel covers.

Standard features for the Sandero Stepway Plus include a seven-inch MediaNav touchscreen with navigation, cruise control, rear park assist with rear parking camera, plus electrically operated side mirrors and windows.

Safety features include ABS with EBD, Emergency Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist, Electronic Stability Control, traction control and four airbags.

ISOFIX child seat mounts are standard.

Although there is nothing particularly sophisticated about the way the Stepway rides, it is marginally more comfortable than the Kwid thanks to a raised ride height.

It has fairly soft suspension, so manages to smoother most bumps pretty well, and even potholes do not send particularly nasty jolts through the car.

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However, too much of road surface roughness is channelled up through the steering column, so you feel vibrations through your fingers.

The vehicle also tends to wallow over dips and crests.

During the week of testing, I managed to average a consumption figure of 6.2-litres/100km and the range would get close to 900km.

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The Renault Sandero Stepway Plus comes in at R206 900, backed up by a fiveyear/150 000km warranty and two-year/30 000km service plan.

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