It should have been the news we’ve all been waiting for. Confirmation, at last, that a Dacia Sandero Rallye was on the horizon. Indeed, the first few lines of the press release supporting the launch of the hot Sandero hinted at something even better – a Renaultsport Sandero. Be still our beating hearts and mop our collective brows with cold water. We could almost see the £9,995 price tag plastered along the Sandero’s windscreen.
But then it hit us like a hammer to the heart. This Renaultsport-designed and developed Sandero will be built exclusively for Latin America. It felt as if someone had pulled the plug from our 1980s ghetto blaster, leaving the rest of the press release to sound like a mumbled blur of nothingness.
Exclusively for Latin America? Really, how could you do this to us, Renault?
Oh, it all sounds so lovely. The first Renaultsport model to be built outside of Europe. The creation of a sporty sub-segment in the market’s most competitive category. Launched in early 2016. Yada yada yada. Sorry, it’s all just white noise. The television is closing down for the night, all rise for the national anthem.
Come on, we’re pretty sure the Latin Americans won’t mind if you exported a few hundred to the UK. We wouldn’t even object to 500 left-hookers, because at least this would give them instant niche credibility, in the style of the Golf Rallye and Delta Integrale. There is definitely a gap in the market for a five-seat, five-door hot hatch costing in the region of £10,000.
Sure, you can market it as the Renault Sandero over there in Latin America, but we know it’s the Dacia Sandero. And if you don’t fancy linking the Renaultsport badge with the Dacia name, the answer is simple, just call it the Dacia Sandero Rallye. Everyone’s a winner.
The specs look mouthwatering. A 2.0-litre engine developing 145hp which – crucially – is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Something that, on paper at least, gives it the edge over the Renaultsport Clio. What’s more, it gets ESC with sports tuning, new suspension and steering settings, all-round disc brakes, an F1-style splitter and a set of 17-inch alloy wheels. There really isn’t much to dislike about this car.
Aside from the fact that we’re not getting our hands on it.
OK, here’s the deal. If you’re heading to the Goodwood Festival of Speed next week, hunt down somebody from Renault or Dacia and stamp your feet until they agree to listen to you. Alternatively, if you’re one of the 500,000 or so visitors expected to visit the Buenos Aires Motor Show over the coming days, plead with them to send a few of the hot Sanderos across to the UK.
Renault, you made a huge mistake by not making a right-hand drive version of the original Renault Twingo, please don’t make the same mistake with the Sandero. There’s a cult classic in the making here. Antony Ingram said as much in 2013 and he has gone on to write for Evo magazine. So if you won’t listen to us, listen to him.
People of Latin America, we put it to you like this. We’ll return all evidence of the Volkswagen Fox if you promise to send over 500 Renaultsport Sanderos. Surely that’s a fair swap? You get around 35,000 of the brilliant and massively underrated* Fox and we get a few hundred hot Sanderos. On balance, this is a tremendous deal for both nations – PetrolBlog doing its bit for international relations.
Whether you call it the Dacia Sandero Rallye, Renaultsport Sandero or Renault Sandero RS, we’d like it over here, please. None of this ‘designed and built in Latin America for Latin Americans’ nonsense.
That’ll be all.
*by brilliant and massively underrated we actually mean terrible and hopelessly under-engineered.