Skip advert
Advertisement

New Dacia Sandero Stepway 2023 review

The more expensive Stepway adds some much-needed charm to the Sandero range

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Find your Dacia Sandero
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?
Customers got an average £1000 more vs part exchange quotes
Advertisement

Verdict

With the Stepway, Dacia has managed to make it feel like a genuinely competitive offering in the supermini segment, rather than one that relies on its headline price tag and falls short everywhere else. With low-budget rivals drying up, the jacked-up image has now become a bit of a USP for the Stepway, which only adds to its appeal.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Truth be told, the majority of British drivers would find the Dacia Sandero to be a perfectly adequate family runabout. Britain’s cheapest car has risen in price significantly in the last few years but still remains good value beside its supermini competitors thanks to a recent mild facelift – which has just now been applied to the jacked-up Stepway model as well.

Lifted superminis are few and far between these days, despite most volume car makers dabbling in the niche segment at some point, with offerings like the Volkswagen Polo Dune, Ford Fiesta Active and the short-lived Audi A1 Citycarver. The Stepway actually outsells the regular Sandero, so Dacia has a great reason to stick with its chunky supermini.

As with the rest of the Dacia range, the Sandero Stepway has received some revisions to mark the firm’s new logo which was rolled out in the second half of 2022. The trim level line up has changed, with the range-topping Prestige swapped out for a suitably alliterative ‘Extreme’ version to accompany the entry-level Essential and the one we’re testing here – the mid-range Expression.  

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

At £16,295, the Expression costs £1,000 more than the Essential and £1,350 less than the Extreme, but we think it marks the best balance in terms of equipment and pricing. The Expression gets a few crucial benefits over the Essential with front fog lights, electric rear windows, keyless entry and a rear parking camera. Welcome touches in the cabin come courtesy of a soft-touch steering wheel (much more pleasant to grasp than the plasticky one in the Essential) and a neat fabric upholstery on the dash and door cards. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

The eight-inch touchscreen on the dash initially looks like it could be a mere black and white display from the main menu, but orange flashes confirm your inputs. The infotainment system is very basic, which could be seen as a positive or a negative depending on your affinity with technology, but the resolution is decent and the Expression features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, which is all you could ask for in a budget supermini.

It’s a wired rather than wireless connection and the USB port is located high up on the dash, but there’s some coincidental convenience of the bag hook in the passenger side footwell to keep the USB lead out of the way of the gear lever. Being the 4x4-style Stepway you get roof rails, front and rear faux skid plates, side protection stickers and wheel arch cladding, all of which contribute to the utilitarian look. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Jump into the Stepway (made slightly easier by the raised ride height) and you’ll notice that the generous equipment tally is backed up by an interior that we’re sure will be durable, even if it feels a little cheap in places. There are huge swathes of rough plastic on the door cards and centre console but the buttons and dials for the climate controls beneath the central touchscreen are sturdy enough. The relatively boxy profile of the Sandero means there’s a lot of space inside – adults will have no qualms about space front and rear and the 328-litre boot is about average for the class. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

The driving position is somewhere in between a traditional supermini and an SUV because you sit quite upright, but there’s excellent visibility, and it’s a comfortable enough place to spend a few hours behind the wheel. That’s because the Sandero Stepway (and regular Sandero for that matter) serves up a soft ride that easily copes with big bumps and potholes, although it can vibrate and jiggle sometimes around town. While the ride is up there with more expensive superminis, a lack of refinement that rears its head at motorway speeds – the Stepway seems to lack some sound deadening compared to rivals, so there’s prominent wind and road noise.  

The latest facelift hasn’t changed the way the Stepway drives. It’s certainly not the best in its segment from behind the wheel, but the Stepway isn’t without charm. The combination of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine and six-speed manual transmission is far better than the CVT we’ve previously tried, and while there’s only 90bhp to play with, the Stepway weighs just over a tonne so the performance is just about adequate.  

It feels like the turbocharger does most of the heavy lifting. Beneath 2,000rpm the engine can be sluggish and revving it out to the 6,000rpm limit is a fruitless endeavour, so you’ll need to work the surprisingly pleasant six-speed manual gearbox to keep the Stepway in its preferred power band.

Model:Dacia Sandero Stepway Expression TCe 90
Price:£16,295
Engine:1.0-litre 3cyl turbo
Transmission:Six-speed manual, front wheel drive
Power/torque:90bhp/160Nm
0-62mph:12 seconds
Top speed:107mph
Economy/CO2:50.4mpg/127g/km
On sale:Now
Skip advert
Advertisement
Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Have you considered?

New Cupra Born VZ 2024 review: a great stride for the EV hot hatch genre
New Cupra Born VZ - front
Road tests
17 May 2024

New Cupra Born VZ 2024 review: a great stride for the EV hot hatch genre

Used Citroen C4 (Mk3, 2020-date) review: comfortable hatch covers all the bases
Used Citroen C4 - front static
Used car tests
2 May 2024

Used Citroen C4 (Mk3, 2020-date) review: comfortable hatch covers all the bases

Vauxhall Astra GSe PHEV long-term test: family hatch has quite a few flaws
Auto Express products editor Kim Adams washing the Vauxhall Astra GSe
Long-term tests
1 May 2024

Vauxhall Astra GSe PHEV long-term test: family hatch has quite a few flaws

Skoda Fabia review
Skoda Fabia - front tracking
In-depth reviews
29 Apr 2024

Skoda Fabia review

Most Popular

Ooh la la: new DS flagship to get inspiration from world’s coolest car
DS flagship - exclusive image
News

Ooh la la: new DS flagship to get inspiration from world’s coolest car

The iconic Citroen DS was voted the world’s coolest car by our readers and now DS is aiming for the same success with its new premium flagship
15 May 2024
New Skoda Octavia 2024 facelift review: updates strengthen a strong hand
Skoda Octavia 2024 facelift international drive
Road tests

New Skoda Octavia 2024 facelift review: updates strengthen a strong hand

Skoda's family car hero gets a little bit better with the latest facelift, and it was pretty good to start with.
14 May 2024
Car Deal of the Day: 18 months with the eye-catching Peugeot 208 for £140 per month
Peugeot E-208 - main image
News

Car Deal of the Day: 18 months with the eye-catching Peugeot 208 for £140 per month

Our Deal of the Day for 14 May is ideal for those looking for a stylish stopgap car
14 May 2024