Dacia Sandero - Engines, performance and drive
Buyers will appreciate the improved driving experience that the Sandero offers over the previous model
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 petrol or TCe 100 Bi-Fuel guises. The Sandero corners neatly, with decent grip and only a small amount of body roll, however this isn’t a car feel that needs to be driven hard.
Buyers will arguably be best served by the TCe 90 version which offers more power and torque than the now discontinued 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.
The steering is predictably light, but suits the Sandero well, plus the 10.5-metre turning circle makes slotting the car into tight spaces a cinch. Height adjustment for the driver’s seat is standard on the Sandero, but the central armrest is irritating; when in use, it gets in the way of the gearlever and handbrake. We also found the five-speed manual gearbox a little imprecise and awkward at times.
Ultimately, 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.
0-62mph acceleration and top speed
The turbocharged TCe 90 petrol engine produces 89bhp and 160Nm of torque in total, and when paired with the five-speed manual gearbox is capable of 0-62mph in a respectable 12.2 seconds. If you’re on the motorway and want to accelerate from 50mph to 75mph it’ll take you 11.6 seconds in fourth gear.
The CVT automatic version is a little slower off the mark, with 0-62mph taking 13.4 seconds, while the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel model is just as quick as the TCe 90 manual.
The SCe 65 petrol engine is no longer available to order, although if you do venture into the used market you'll find a spartan supermini that wheezes through the 0-62mph sprint in a yawn-inducing 16.7 seconds, and just getting from 50mph to 75mph in 4th gear takes 14.9 seconds. If you do venture onto a motorway in an old Sandero SCe 65, you might want to think carefully before attempting any overtaking manoeuvres.
In this review
- 1Dacia Sandero reviewSharper looking, more spacious and better to drive than ever, there’s a lot more to like about the Dacia Sandero than just the price
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingBuyers will appreciate the improved driving experience that the Sandero offers over the previous model
- 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, while interior quality is much improved
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Sandero is a practical family option, offering decent boot space and plenty of room for passengers
- 6Reliability and safetyDacia’s mixed performance in the most recent Driver Power survey and a two-star Euro NCAP rating for the Sandero can’t be overlooked