In-depth reviews

Dacia Sandero review - Engines, performance and drive

Dacia has improved the Sandero driving experience, but the base model feels underpowered

The third-generation Sandero is wider than the previous model and includes a host of chassis upgrades that mean it’s better to drive than before. It’s by no means a car designed for the driving enthusiast, but the new underpinnings bring improved ride comfort and a relaxed set-up that makes the Sandero decent to drive around town and a competent motorway cruiser in either TCe 90 or 100 Bi-Fuel guises.

Buyers will arguably be best served by the TCe 90 version which offers more power and torque than the SCe 65 unit, while the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel uses niche LPG tech. The TCe 90 engine isn’t overly noisy unless you decide to explore the upper end of the rev range, at which point it sounds particularly strained. Ultimately, there’s no real point in driving the car too hard, as you’ll quickly overstretch its limited dynamic ability.

The steering is predictably light, but suits the Sandero well, although we found the six-speed manual ‘box a little imprecise and awkward at times. If you take the Sandero for what it is, and your needs are aligned more to everyday functionality than driving enjoyment, then Dacia’s third iteration of its budget supermini still hits the spot.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed 

The SCe 65 engine is only available with the basic Access trim, which means parting with almost £8,000 gives you a spartan supermini that wheezes through the 0-62mph ‘sprint’ in a yawn-inducing 16.7s, while moving from 50mph to 75mph in 4th gear takes 14.9s. If you do venture onto a motorway in a Sandero SCe 65, you might want to think carefully before attempting any overtaking manoeuvres. 

Upgrading to the turbocharged TCe 90 unit brings 89bhp and 160Nm of torque, with the six-speed manual version delivering a more respectable 11.7s sprint time and a motorway-friendly 9.5s in-gear time from 50-75mph. The CVT auto variant is a little slower off the mark, taking 13.4s from 0-62mph.

The quickest Sandero is the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel model, but only by a few tenths compared to the TCe 90 manual.

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