I can’t stop thinking about the Renault Sandero RS. Put simply, I’ve never wanted a Brazilian so much.
What’s more, I reckon the Renault Sandero RS is the budget performance car this country needs. Allow me to explain.
In Brazil, the Sandero RS costs the equivalent of £12,500. In the UK, you’d be lucky to get a miserable, soul-destroying city car for that amount of cash. Cheap cars aren’t that cheap in 2020. Somehow, Ford manages to charge upwards of £18,650 for the Ecosport. This should be the price people are paid to take it away.
The Up GTI has just returned after eight months in the wilderness, with Volkswagen hoping that nobody will notice a two grand price increase. Meanwhile, grown men have been behaving like children on Christmas morning over the news that Toyota is to launch a Yaris Integrale.
Which is great, but even a conservative estimate would suggest a price tag of around £30,000. It might be the first Yaris to grace a bedroom wall, but it will be 30 years before the enthusiastic kid can afford the finance payments. By which time we’ll all be starring in our own Nevil Shute novel, wishing we had listened to Sir David National-Treasure.
The Renault Sandero RS makes perfect sense. When fuelled by ethanol, the 2.0-litre engine produces 150hp, which might not seem like a lot to UK car buyers who have been brainwashed into thinking we need 300hp to have fun. But quite frankly, 150hp is quite enough in a car that weighs the equivalent of a family box of corn flakes.
Because it’s based on old bits of Renault Clio, it will be cheap when something goes wrong. Furthermore, because it’s lacking the latest safety equipment, drivers will pay more attention to the road ahead, rather than updating their status on Tic Tac, or whatever the latest social channel is called.
The Sandero RS will hit 62mph in around eight seconds, which was more than acceptable in the 80s. It hasn’t set a lap record around the Nurburgring, which means it will feel right at home on the inner ring road. It also has sensible 17-inch wheels, so the ride quality is likely to come as a pleasant surprise to AMG and Audi drivers who divide their time between the physio and the chiropractor.
I can understand why Renault would be reluctant to offer the Sandero RS in the UK, but there is another way. Badge it as a Dacia Sandero RS. It’s the Lidl of the performance car world. The nursery slopes before you progress to the black run. A car that requires maximum input to extract the best from it.
The interior is uncomplicated enough to allow the driver to concentrate on what matters – driving. It’s large enough to take four of his or her mates along for the ride. It could even be offered as a Sandero Rallye, complete with 15-inch steel wheels, skinny tyres, no radio and no air conditioning. Yours for £10,000, sir or madam.
Offering free insurance might be risky, so how about incentivising drivers with affordable finance in the first year, followed by free insurance in the second and third year, if the first 12 months pass without incident.
It falls nicely into place for Renault. On the one hand you have the affordable Sandero RS, while on the other hand you have the Alpine A110. Two bookends, linked by undiluted driver appeal and a focus on lightweight thrills.
The Renault Sandero RS could occupy the end of the market vacated by the Suzuki Swift Sport when it went all expensive and turbochargy.
I’m conscious that it is becoming little more than an outpouring of my inner thoughts. In typical PetrolBlog fashion, this post might sparkle for a few days, before getting lost in the Google forest, forgotten by search robots and becoming the digital equivalent of fish and chip paper.
To hell with it. I adore the look of the Renault Sandero RS and I don’t care who knows it. In fact, I’m already imaging a Dacia Logan MCV RS. If you don’t mind, I need to have a lie down in a darkened room.