Dacia Sandero Access

13 Feb, 2013 3:45pm Tom Phillips

We hit UK roads in Britain’s cheapest new car, the £6,000 Dacia Sandero Access, to deliver our verdict


The Sandero Access is roomy and decent enough to drive. It’s cheap to run and insure, and residuals are good due to the low price. It costs the same as a solid used supermini, but includes a three-year warranty, and there’s not much kit to go wrong. In entry-level trim it’s too basic for UK tastes, though. We’d upgrade to the mid-spec Ambiance for £600 extra, and get body-coloured bumpers, Bluetooth, central locking and electric windows.

For less than the price of a Bang & Olufsen sound system in a new Audi A6 you can have a brand new car. The Dacia Sandero Access is Britain’s cheapest new model, at just £5,995 – that’s £2,100 less than the entry-level VW up! and £5,630 cheaper than the base version of the new Renault Clio, with which this Sandero shares its 74bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine.

Unfortunately for the Dacia, cheap isn’t exactly beautiful. Our entry-level Access is available only in white, with 15-inch steel wheels and unpainted, shiny black plastic front and rear bumpers. It’s a look that’s more small van than stylish supermini, although the more expensive Sanderos – with body-coloured bumpers and alloys – look much smarter.

Lifting the tailgate reveals a decent-sized, 320-litre boot – 44 litres larger than the Ford Fiesta’s. The rear seatbases fold forward easily in one, while the seatbacks fold forwards in a 60:40 split to free up a 1,200-litre load area, although the boot floor isn’t flat. Still, all Sanderos are five-doors, and offer decent head, shoulder and legroom for rear seat passengers.

Up front, the driver’s seat doesn’t adjust for height and the steering wheel is fixed, which compromises the driving position, but visibility is good, once you’ve moved the door mirrors manually.

The windows also operate manually, and the lack of central locking wouldn’t be an issue if you could push the lock down on the rear doors when they’re open – instead you have to shut the door and then lock it from the inside.

The dash is made from pretty hard plastic. It feels decently put together, but looks as though it would show scratches clearly.

There are plenty of blanking panels to cover where switches are located on plusher models, and you have to make do without a light in the glovebox or a vanity mirror. However, our model did have a £250 aftermarket radio – the car only comes with pre-wiring as standard. There’s lots of space up front, including useful cubby storage and a big glovebox.

The 1.2-litre engine has been around in Renaults for years. In the Sandero it’s rather noisy at almost any speed. The car weighs 941kg, and is quite low-geared, so it’s comfortable enough when keeping up with traffic or plodding around town at 25mph.

A little gearshift light on the rev counter tells you when to shift up or down through the notchy five-speed box – you’ll want to change up just to hush the engine. The power-assisted steering is quite heavy, and the pedals spongy.

Body roll is an issue, even at low speed, and the ride is lumpy and inconsistent. But at this price, you hardly expect a sports car – instead, the Sandero is little more than capable A to B transport.

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Most basic model superminis look crap anyway so I think the reviewer has been way too harsh criticising this car when all along they should be asking whether these things wrong with it are acceptable for a car so cheap.

Plus not many people will buy this model, so many of these criticisms are invalid to most buyers.

I think its a breath of fresh air for manufacturers to produce fine looking cars to do without unnecessaries but keep in Bluetooth etc for just £6600. I'd have the Stepway or Duster if I was looking for a car at the moment. The 4x4 Duster would add the extra bit of confidence in the winter.

So you're saying that instead of buying the base model of Ford Fiesta I can buy two Dacia Sanderos. Now there's a thought. Buy one get one free.

£6k seems on the face of it, great value but I am not surprised they expect to sell very few 'Access' models. It really looks like a budget car (inside and out) yet I would not say that of the middle and top spec versions which seem more appealing. Fair play to Dacia for offering consumers a new car for £6k but it looks very compromised to me.

Lumpy, inconsistent ride, body roll at all speeds, notchy gearbox, noisy, no driver position adjustment at all, zero equipment, heavy steering and spongy pedals. How exactly does this warrant 3 stars?

I don't mean to take the wind out of Dacia's 'sales'...most agree that initially, the brand will do very well across the product line-up.

But alarmingly, yet another scribe blatantly ignores the Sandero's barely adequate 3-Star Euro NCAP current crash test rating. Of the dozens of driving impressions / reviews I have read, only one touched on the safety aspect but STILL didn't mention the actual rating. Frankly, it's just irresponsible reporting.

While Dacia's will continue to be 'shockingly affordable', the same can't be said for life and limb. Just saying.

You are wrong here. Speaking without doing homework. The 2013 Sandero hasn't been tested by NCAP yet. So your point isn't valid.

I guess it's the price - and price ONLY so the logic behind the decision reminds me of ppl who buy Lidls foods thinking they are good because once again they only see the price :(
Me? I'd just buy a decent 2nd hand car

Perhaps someone can tell us where the "poor crash test results" story come from - this magazine is not the only one to report on it

One word: " 'Orrible"! Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware!!

Funny how everybody is picking on the black bumper, nobody as far as I am aware picked on the Kia picanto, the Hyundia i10, Fiat Panda etc. for having black bumpers on their base models!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What is the point of having 60/40 split seat backs if the seat base only fold forward 100%. Folding one of the seat backs onto the untilted seat base may allow 3 or 4 passengers but does impinge on the space available.

Scribes who regularly test cars with leather, a/c, electric this and powered that totally fail to get basic cars. Some people want simplicity and a low price.

Valid, no test since 2008 makes the point even stronger. The Duster was tested in 2011 and scored a paltry 3 stars. I very much doubt the Sandero will fare any better. I've contacted Euro NCAP re an updated Sandero test. No response yet. I will revert once and if they do.

I think you didn't understood... This is the 2013 model, it will be tested this year. The first generation Sandero got 3 stars. I predict, from my analisis, this will get 4 stars. The Sandero suffers because it doesn't has the passive protection gadgets that the new models introduce every year. Dacia is giving you: decent performance, decent quality, decent protection and very good reliability with the lowest running costs. That's the formula. It doesn't offer you junk cars. If they were they wouldn't sell so many cars like they do. The majority of clients comes from the used car segment and, in general, people who buy a car to run it into the ground.

Looks like a 15-20 year old car.

I like cheap, basic cars but would much rather have a pre-reg 107/C1/Aygo - the Pug and Citroen versions of which can be bagged for the same price as this.

This basic model is aimed at fleet buyers in Eastern Europe. Company owners want cheap transport for their employees most of whom will be grateful to be given any car at all. Why Dacia are offering this model in the UK is a mystery to me. Ambiance models will sell better here.

If you actually read the test results of the Duster, for example, you will see that it performs pretty well, in occupant protection for example, where it loses points and therefore stars is the fact that it doesnt have every audible alarm or all the electronic gizmos of some more expensive cars, these are not necessarily issues of safety (or even necessary in actual fact) but the NCAP scoring system means that the car will get the star rating from it's lowest scoring area. It is silly and without reading the test in full is misleading. I'd be more than happy with either of the Dacia cars on that basis because I am fed up of paying over the odds for a whole host of electronic gadgetry I don't need.

Just spend a few hundred more for the mid range model and and that represents great value if you are in the market for a budget car !! Again each to their own nothing wrong with that ....And I agree it will surely get a better NCAP rating when tested.

Spot on and more fool the people who would rather pay double for a few extra micro-chips (that will undoubtedly fail or cause niggles anyway...)

Checked out a Sandero this weekend at our Local Renault dealership, admittedly they did not have the 'Access' model in the showroom, but they did have the £6600 model and have to say it's very impressive. Good size, decent looking (with painted bumpers the car is transformed and could easily be a Polo or Fabia) Interior quality was better than expected, yes it is hard, but it is functional and no doubt saves weight too. Would happily buy this when you consider how much you will have to spend elsewhere. Seems to be a total no-brainer unless you want to buy used. Not sure why they bothered with the 'Access' model because the mid-range is hardly much more and infitely better looking and equipped
** have to say the black bumpers are probably the worst I've ever seen in terms of appearance and quality

I would probably never buy one (new) but can totally understand why other people would...Makes complete sense if you just want something to get you from A-B with a long warranty. As for the review, well I felt it was really really harsh, the reviewer obviously does not understand Dacia and is probably more use to rubbish Audis full of gizmos

But Dacia isn't aiming its products at people like you, much like Lidl.

Also, like Lidl, many people such as yourself prejudge the quality of the product by its price. Lidl products are of no worse quality (often better) than Tesco products but just cost less.

Similar can be said for the Sandero - you have judged it as inferior based on its price, yet looking on the continent, Dacia was rated as the most reliable manufacturer - so the quality IS there.

The only reason Apple products are 'premium' is because they set their prices higher, not because the components they use are of any higher quality. So you go off and buy an out-of-warranty Fiesta or Polo for the same price as a brand new Sandero and who's the mug?

Don't come back with the issue of depreciation, because if the Sandero fares as badly as many expect as a proportion of its value being lost, there isn't as much of it to lose.

Dacia is a breath of fresh air for the UK, and a totally alien, being consumer, not profit orientated - so don't knock it!

I think many of the reviewers are missing the point. Do I need central locking in a car? Do I have central locking in my house, where the doors are much further apart? No. Do I need air conditioning in a country where the temperature rarely gets high enough to raise the temperature when the car windows are open? No. Most modern cars are adding features for the sake of it - and customers are prepared to PAY for windscreen wipers that turn on when it rains or lights that turn on when its dark (can't they see that for themselves?). I personally welcome bumpers that don't need to be resprayed or replaced after each minor knock and wheels that aren't made of a soft alloy that dents whenever I drive over a pothole.

The real question is, why isn't anyone offering to take this stuff off the premium cars too, so that we can pay for build quality and safety features instead of gadgets and gimmicks?

Well the brand new Dokker has only just been given 3 stars by Euro NCAP, so it's highly nunlikely this monstrocity will fare any better. It's ok for OAP's who's normally have bought a Proton Savvy or a Perodua Nippa, but that's a very limited market. January total deliveries of 294 cars to the UK is hardly the great success story!

Which, of course, have just been awarded a 3 star NCAP result, and that is for the latest models.
I can see a great deal of appeal in cars like these Dacias, but what's wrong with the bumpers? Surely they don't come out of the showroom like that? It looks like someone has badly applied some cheap 'back to black' type product.

This will surely fare no better for safety though. At least the 107/C1/Aygo look like they're from the last decade. That said, the more upmarket trim levels of the Sandero are much more appealing visually and will depreciate to £5995 quickly anyway.

ATTENTION!!! for all the snobs:

Dacia has actually 4 STARS for ADULT PROTECTION

and 5 STARS for CHILD PROTECTION. however the overall score is 3 stars is because

1 has no audible seatbelt reminder (for idiots)

2 and the Entry level car has no ESP


I have the £5995 one and have to say very happy with the way it handles, The first thing to go wrong on my last car was electric windows followed by central locking (a Mitsubishi) I will fit an audio system and as said its a safe reliable car

Key specs

  • Price: £5,995
  • Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl petrol
  • Power: 75bhp
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 14.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 97mph
  • Economy: 48.7mpg
  • CO2: 135g/km
  • Equipment: Power-steering, 15-inch steel wheels, manual windows
  • On sale: Now