Renault has revealed a new RS Line version of its fresh-faced Captur, with the crossover gaining “exclusive attributes inspired by the world of motorsports”.
Unveiled in July 2019 and expected to launch in South Africa in the second half of 2021, the second-generation Captur range in Europe now includes the new RS Line option. It’s not yet clear whether this trim level will be available locally.
So, what sets the newcomer apart from standard models, apart from the “RS Line” badge affixed to its rump? Well, the upgrades are purely cosmetic, comprising a sportier front bumper (complete with the French firm’s so-called “F1 blade”), a honeycomb grille, a faux-diffuser round back, window tints, chrome-trimmed tailpipes and 18-inch “Le Castellet” alloy wheels.
Inside, the Captur RS Line gains model-specific red highlights on the upholstery plus red-and-grey stitching on the perforated-leather-trimmed steering wheel. There are also aluminium door-sill plates as well as a red accent line (with a carbon-like finish) stretching across the facia through the air vents.
As mentioned, the RS Line upgrade does not include any performance tweaks. In Europe, that means engine options still include a turbocharged 1,0-litre, three-cylinder unit offering 74 kW and 160 N.m, as well as a 1,3-litre powerplant generating 96 kW and 240 N.m in lower-spec models and 114 kW and 270 N.m in flagship variants.
Renault has also updated its 1,5-litre dCi engine, which is offered in 70 kW/240 N.m guise (with a six-speed manual) and 85 kW/260 N.m form (with the option of the seven-speed dual-clutch unit). Hybrid powertrains are also in the pipeline.
The new Renault 5 Prototype has been revealed, previewing an upcoming electric city car inspired by the original R5.
As a reminder, the Renault 5 was produced from 1972 to 1996, over two generations with more than 5,5 million units built.
The French firm says the new Renault 5 Prototype allows the company to “reconnect” with its past. Describing the prototype as a “cute” city car, Renault claims the production version will “democratise” the electric vehicle in Europe.
“The design of the Renault 5 Prototype is based on the R5, cult model of our heritage. This prototype simply embodies modernity, a vehicle relevant to its time: urban, electric, attractive,” said Gilles Vidal, Renault’s design director.
The Boulogne-Billancourt-based automaker says the styling elements borrowed from the original design “hide very modern functions”. For example, the bonnet air intake disguises the charging hatch, the rear lights include aero flaps and the foglamps function as daytime running lights. There’s even a nod to the original R5 on the side grid, the wheels and the rear logo. The vehicle’s front and rear logos light up, while a French flag has been added to the slim side-mirror caps, too.
The prototype was revealed after Groupe Renault presented its “Renaulution” strategic plan, announcing its strategy for the next five years and beyond. By 2025, Renault says it will launch 14 core vehicles: seven will be fully electric and seven will be in the C and D segments. All new models will have an electric or hybrid version.
Some offroad height and an approachable price make the Sandero Techroad an appealing crossover. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
If your smartphone regularly updates you with motoring news, you will not only be able to catch all the updates while plugged into the Renault Sandero Techroad but you are also going to find out about the new third-generation Sandero that’ll be launched soon.
The new one, which made its global debut last month, has picked up a whole load more style than the Techroad specification being tested here. The segment it competes in recently dwindled with the exit of the Toyota Etios Cross and thus it competes with Ford’s new Figo Freestyle. You can include the smaller Suzuki Ignis and the larger Hyundai Venue in the mix.
People who buy small crossovers value space, simple running gear, some offroad height and an approachable price. They will not be disappointed with what the Stepway Techroad has to offer. There’s 2,590mm of wheelbase, a 292l boot and 193mm of ground clearance — all best in segment. There’s also good head, shoulder and legroom and the rear seats flop down to increase loading space to make this a practical family car.
It isn’t an expensive-feeling interior but has a modern-looking fascia. The Techroad grade brings with it much standard spec, including unique cloth seats with blue-coloured sections that liven up the interior. When you plug in your smartphone into the USB port it becomes hub of connectivity to your music collection, saved or streamed; and hands-free communication through Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which also beams phone-based navigational maps onto the main colour display screen.
The Techroad is available with one powertrain option. It’s a 900cc three-cylinder turbo with 66kW and 135Nm mated to a five-speed manual transmission.
Renault likes to punt the F1 technology in its production engines yet the performance and refinement of this triple-cylinder motor is a wheezy affair. It just isn’t tractable enough at low speeds or anywhere else in the rev range. You’ll need deft clutch and throttle work when faced with steep driveways, more so on cold mornings. This also makes it frustrating to get it up to high speeds quickly.
Only once on the move and highway and cruising speeds are locked into the standard cruise control does the Techroad get on with being a fair drive, and an added positive here is that it doesn’t quaff fuel. It returned 6.0l/100km on average during a week of living with it.
Renault Sandero Stepway Techroad
WE LIKE: Looks, space, fuel consumption
WE DISLIKE: Sluggish performance
VERDICT: Affordable compact crossover
There’s also not much of a balanced ride and handling dynamism to its front-wheel drive chassis. It’s not that it won’t handle; you can carve out tidy lines on twisty roads but you’ll need to work harder. Thankfully the clutch and gearbox action are light and precise enough to save the day but, all in, it’s not as fluid in operation and it will not trouble the Ford alternative. It did claw back brownie points with a good enough showing on a dirt road where it remained supple and its higher stance gave me more confidence to climb over slightly bigger obstacles.
The Renault Triber has been quite a hit; the combination of its excellent packaging, handsome looks and value-for-money proposition has enabled Renault to clock over 40,000 units sold since its launch last August. And at a time when nearly every car on sale has multiple powertrains on offer, the Triber has managed this with just one engine and gearbox combination – a 1.0-litre petrol with a 5-speed manual gearbox. There are, of course, more to come, the first of which is this AMT. It’s paired to the same 1.0 engine as the manual, it’s offered in three of the four current variants, and there are no differences in features between the manual and the auto. Strapping an AMT – gearboxes not known for their smoothness – to a small, 72hp, 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, naturally aspirated engine doesn’t sound very exciting, but as we found out, there is a small surprise in store as far as driveability is concerned.
What’s the Triber AMT like to drive?
The first thing I liked was the fact that the Triber AMT has a traditional gear lever that gives you the option of manual shifting, should you need it. The Kwid AMT, on the other hand, uses a rotary dial and has no possibility of manual intervention. The gearbox also has a creep function, so lift off the brake pedal in D, and the car will begin to move. AMTs, by virtue of having to engage a regular mechanical clutch, need the creep function to be built into the control software, so it’s nice to see Renault has engineered this into the car right from the start; the Kwid AMT, at launch, didn’t have this. The engagement itself is nice and smooth, but it’s slow, and that’s pretty much the tone for the gearshifts too.
The Triber AMT gets a traditional gear lever that gives you the option of shifting manually as well, unlike the Kwid AMT.
In a bid to dampen that typical AMT jerkiness, Renault has slowed things down and the gearshifts sort of roll into one other. This is nice when you’re driving around at a gingerly pace, but not great when you’re in a hurry. This also shows up in the performance times. In our 0-100kph test, the Triber AMT took a leisurely 22.14 seconds (albeit on a wet track) against the manual’s 17.35 seconds. You can shift to manual mode, and though the speed of the shifts remains slow, the ’box lets you rev all the way to the redline. In the Triber’s case, this is a very good thing, as the engine does have some power at the top.
Renault Triber acceleration (as tested)
14.30s (in 3rd gear)
11.03s (in kickdown)
19.49s (in 4th gear)
17.74s (in kickdown)
*Tested in the wet
At 72hp and 96Nm, power and torque figures of the Triber’s 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, naturally aspirated engine are identical in the manual and AMT auto versions.
Beyond the convenience, of course, there are other benefits over the manual car. Thanks to the weak low and mid ranges, you find yourself faced with a lot of shifting to do in the manual, and as a result, you sometimes get lazy and just stick with a higher gear and try and ride out the inevitable delay. In comparison, in the AMT with software control, you don’t have to worry about how often shifts happen, and so you’re more or less always in the power band, relatively speaking.
The AMT’s selected gear is also shown on the MID.
The surprise, however, is in the engine tuning. While power and torque figures are identical in both gearbox iterations, the AMT has a slightly different state of tune with a stronger mid range. That has really improved the everyday driveability of the Triber, and at around 3,000rpm there’s a nice, slightly stronger push.
A slightly altered state of tune of the engine has improved the everyday driveability of the Triber in the AMT version, compared to the manual.
This has come at a small cost to fuel efficiency. Most AMTs return the same mileage as their manual counterparts, or in some cases a slightly higher figure, thanks to the computer-controlled shifts. However, going by the published ARAI figures of the Triber – 19kpl for the manual versus 18.29kpl for the AMT – the small drop in fuel economy is a price worth paying for the more effortless driving experience.
As with the styling, features and packaging, the ride and handling experience too remains the same as the regular manual version and that’s a good thing. Bump absorption is good and the Triber is easily able soak up the nasty bits that our roads can throw up.
Should I buy one?
Since the Triber AMT is available in the same top three variants as the manual, you don’t compromise on features. Additionally, priced from Rs 6.25 to Rs 7.29 lakh (ex-showroom), the AMT versions are Rs 40,000 more than the regular manuals and that’s pretty much par for the course with this type of gearbox. You don’t get extra features, but in addition to the convenience of not having to change gears, you surprisingly also get a better mid range.
Triber AMT is Rs 40,000 dearer than the manual version; gets the same set of features though.
Of course, in absolute terms, power and performance aren’t strong, and if that’s something you can’t live without, you’ll have to hope the turbocharged version – due to launch next year – will remedy this. Or else you’ll just have to look at a higher segment. At this price point, there’s simply nothing else that can offer you the space, comfort and features, along with the flexibility of a seven seater.
ohannesburg – Looking to pick a fight with the Hyundai i30N and Honda Civic Type R, not to forget the recently introduced Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR, the new RenaultSport Megane R.S 300 Trophy has just been launched in South Africa.
It’s not cheap, let me warn you, coming in at R774 900 for the manual and R799 900 for the EDC dual-clutch automatic.
Before you write it off as being too expensive, let’s take a quick moment to assess what you get when you sign an OTP for one of the fastest Megane RS models of all time.
It looks racier than the standard model
On the outside, the Megane RS looks different to the standard Megane RS, that’s been on sale for a year already, thanks to an exclusive side panel with Trophy insignia, and a distinctive, sportier front bumper with an F1-inspired blade. It also gains a specific rear diffuser, an intelligent central-exit exhaust system and unique Jerez Tri-Tone 19-inch wheels.
Inside, it’s unique too with the addition of signature Recaro seats, finished in Alcantara, with red top-stitching. Other specific design cues within the cockpit include an Alcantara-covered steering wheel and a Zamak forged-aluminium gear knob and handbrake gaiter. Bespoke is the word that comes to mind, but that’s the last time I’ll use it, promise.
RenaultSport aims to save the manual
Offered with the choice of either six-speed manual or dual-clutch EDC gearboxes, and equipped with a more powerful version of the group’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, you now get a thumping 221kW sent to the front wheels when your right foot is flat.
This added poke is partially thanks to upgrades to the turbo system, adding a ceramic ball bearing unit and an intelligent exhaust pipe with a dual-sound valve system.
Packed with Safety, comfort and tech
While the Trophy stands for the ultimate word in performance, RenaultSport has not compromised on specification; packing it with more features than you get in mid-size premium SUVs that cost the same amount of money.
Performance fanatics will appreciate the latest R.S. Monitor and Race Mode, for an “augmented” driving experience, while to keep you on the straight and narrow you also get unique “Bi-material” brakes developed with Brembo. Being a Trophy, you also get stiffer suspension with a Torsen mechanical limited-slip differential, enabling better cornering and traction.
One of the key USPs of the Megane RS, which has been carried over into the latest Trophy model is Renault’s 4CONTROL technology. This four-wheel steering system aims to deliver heightened agility through tight turns and improved cornering stability at higher speeds.
Added to all the driving goodies listed above, you also get an interactive Renault Multimedia System, including a 22cm touchscreen, satellite navigation system with SA maps, Bluetooth, USB and AUX input. You also get, as standard, Apple Car Play and Android Auto support.
Additional standard features include dual-zone climate control, cruise control with speed limiter, Renault hands-free card for entry and engine start, and automatic light and wiper activation.
Worth the bucks?
As mentioned right at the beginning, the new Megane RS Trophy is not cheap. In fact, it’s pushed Renault closer to the R1 million rand mark more than ever before. But, one thing you should consider is that the Trophy won’t be coming in huge volumes, so it’s going to be a rare experience to own one.
Looking at Renault’s past Trophy models, you know it won’t be a bad buy if you enjoy machines that like to be driven hard, but at the end of the day, it’s got some tough competition in the form of the aforementioned Type R, i30N and GTI TCR.
If you’d like a unique, fast hot hatch, this is probably one of the best you can get right now and we can’t wait to put it through its paces later this month.
Be sure to watch this space the full review coming soon.
All Megane RS models, including the new Trophy, come with a five-year/90 000km service plan and a five-year/150 000km mechanical warranty. You also get a six-year anti-corrosion warranty for the body and gizzards. Engine services, incidentally, are pegged at every 10 000km.