Dacia Sandero review
With a sharp new look, improved driving dynamics and extra standard kit, there is a lot more to like about the Dacia Sandero than just the price
Dacia claims its focus is making quality new cars at an affordable price. Well, it’s job done with the latest Sandero. The supermini maintains its position as being the UK’s cheapest car to buy, with key upgrades only adding to its appeal with cost-conscious buyers.
The Sandero continues to offer great practicality, while the model’s celebrated low running costs aren’t overly affected by opting for a higher-spec version. They say the most simple ideas are often the best, and Dacia’s well-judged, value-for-money family hatchback is right up there.
About the Dacia Sandero
There were a lot of momentous events that occurred back in 1966: the England football team triumphed against Germany in the World Cup final, the Beatles played their last ever UK show and Russia successfully landed its Luna 9 spacecraft on the moon. This groundbreaking year also saw the birth of Romanian car manufacturer Dacia which, after arranging a licensing agreement with Renault, was able to start production of its 1100 model (based on the Renault 8) and kick start its mission of producing modern, robust family cars that were still affordable to buyers.
Fast forward to 1999 and, with Renault taking a controlling stake in Dacia, the next few years saw the production of the Logan family saloon sold across mainland Europe, and the introduction of the Sandero and Duster model ranges. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that Dacia was officially launched in the UK, offering new levels of family car affordability. In fact, its first TV advert proudly announced: ‘We don’t do frivolity, function’s our thing’, before stamping the £5,995 Sandero list price across the screen. For those on a budget, it was a hard proposition to resist.
Car group tests
Dacia has now sold over 200,000 cars in the UK and things are looking even better for customers with the latest Sandero model now available to buy. Crucially, prices are still extraordinarily low, but the manufacturer has implemented a raft of engineering changes and tech updates which provide the Sandero with a modern, more up-to-date feel.
The Sandero now sits on a modified version of the Renault Clio’s CMF platform which helps to improve the driving experience, while the new car’s chassis is lighter and stiffer than before. Interior quality and tech have both increased, too, which is arguably an even bigger factor in persuading small car buyers to part with their cash.
With a fresh new look and a little extra finesse, the Sandero now asks serious questions of buyers looking towards a ‘traditional’ supermini purchase. The Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20 and Skoda Fabia all rival the Dacia for size, but can’t compete on price, with an entry-level car still costing £2-3k more than a top-spec Sandero model. Even the smaller Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10 city cars struggle to match the Sandero when it comes to on-the-road pricing.
Engine choices are limited to the SCe 65 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit, producing a humble 64bhp, while the turbo charged TCe 90 variant is probably a more astute choice with 89bhp and a useful extra slug of torque. The TCe 100 Bi-Fuel unit, which offers cost-saving LPG tech, completes the lineup but is likely to be a niche choice. The SCe 65 version employs a five-speed manual transmission, whereas the TCe 90 and TCe 100 Bi-Fuel cars feature a six-speed manual ‘box, with the TCe 90 also having the option of a CVT auto.
Entry-level Access trim means you’ll have to forego the niceties of air-conditioning, a radio and automatic central locking to get that low, low price tag, while the rear manual wind-up windows can best be described as nostalgic. Moving up to a mid-spec Essential car brings back air-con and remote central locking, along with cruise control, DAB and Bluetooth connectivity, with the top-of-the-range Comfort version feeling relatively palatial with chrome trim accents, upgraded upholstery, a rear-view camera and an 8-inch media touchscreen controlling the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functions.
For just under £8,000 you can have a new, but admittedly rather basic, family supermini on your drive, while moving to a smidgen over £10,00 brings the TCe 90 Essential version which could well be the sweet spot in the Sandero range. Even the top-spec Comfort car comes in at under £12,000. And, if you’re after a little extra SUV style, the Sandero Stepway model comes with a raised ride height and rugged exterior trim for only a small price premium.
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In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingWith a sharp new look, improved driving dynamics and extra standard kit, there is a lot more to like about the Dacia Sandero than just the price
- 2Engines, performance and driveDacia has improved the Sandero driving experience, but the base model feels underpowered
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsThe Sandero’s low list price is always the talking point, but fuel economy and insurance costs are decent, too
- 4Interior, design and technologyDacia has given the Sandero a smart new look, but it’s probably best to avoid the basic Access trim level
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceDecent boot space and plenty of room for passengers means the Sandero is a practical option
- 6Reliability and safetyImproved customer feedback in our Driver Power survey is encouraging, although you’ll have to weigh up the impact of a two-star Euro NCAP rating