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Cheap and cheerful Dacia Sandero so endearing as budget buy supermini

Dacia Sandero, which uses Renault technology and underpinnings, is a lot of budget supermini for not a lot of money. Picture: Dacia

Dacia Sandero, which uses Renault technology and underpinnings, is a lot of budget supermini for not a lot of money. Picture: Dacia

Dacia

The Sandero has been famed as a robust, budget hatchback. Now there’s a new one. Andrew Evans has driven it to see if it’s the same package as always.

Dacia Sandero supermini is more about ride comfort than being a rewarding drive. Picture: DaciaDacia Sandero supermini is more about ride comfort than being a rewarding drive. Picture: Dacia

What’s new?

Alongside a lightly-reworked exterior facelift, the new Sandero brings with it a new engine. This three-cylinder unit, known as the SCe 75, becomes the entry point to the Dacia range at £5,995 in basic Access trim, but is also available in the far more popular Ambiance – which takes around 70% of of Sandero sales.

Looks and image

Dacia Sandero fascia feels dated. Picture: DaciaDacia Sandero fascia feels dated. Picture: Dacia

Dacia isn’t a particularly stirring brand. Despite some free and partly tongue-in-cheek advertising for the Sandero on the world’s most popular motoring television show, ultimately it’s a little-known Romanian brand that builds cars based on older Renault platforms – this one used to be a Clio – and sells them cheaply on a no-frills promise.

It’s endearing to an extent and the brand has its admirers and fans, but it’s not going to make many car enthusiasts take too much notice – for now.

Space and practicality

Dacia Sandero is very roomy inside for a supermini. Picture: DaciaDacia Sandero is very roomy inside for a supermini. Picture: Dacia

The Sandero is a roomy car. It’s a B-segment supermini hatchback but with a 320-litre boot – expanding to 1,200 litres with the rear seats down – it’s the roomiest vehicle in the sector.

There’s decent space in the cabin too, so it comes with some pretty solid family credentials and even the EuroNcap rating of four out of five stars is a decent effort that rivals many in the sector.

Behind the wheel

Dacia Sandero's 320-litre boot is the biggest in the supermini sector. Picture: DaciaDacia Sandero's 320-litre boot is the biggest in the supermini sector. Picture: Dacia

There’s few things to grumble about in the Sandero’s driving manners if you temper your expectations. The older Clio underpinnings actually do translate to some modicum of handling performance, but it’s a little outdated and, while you can coax a little fun out of it, distinctly average.

It’s largely focused on the comfort of the drive and it scores reasonably well, even on some dismal roads. The size – and rear parking camera and senors on range-topping Laureate specification – mean it’s a doddle around town too.

Value for money

The Sandero ticks one box for value right away – it’s the cheapest car you can buy in the UK. However, in the very cheapest Access trim it’s almost a false economy, as there’s so little equipment that it draws too much attention to the car’s shortcomings and detracts from the experience.

Ambiance buyers get air conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth for your mobile phone and auxiliary and USB inputs, and for £6,995 that’s a pretty solid equipment list.

Who would buy one?

The Sandero is very much a car for those who are budgeting for two or three-year-old examples of more expensive hatchbacks but still want all of the benefits of a new car.

TECH AND SPEC

Price: Dacia Sandero Ambiance 1.0 SCe £6,995 (range £5,995 to £10.795)

Engine: 998cc, 75hp, three-cylinder petrol with five-speed manual gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 14.2 seconds; top speed 98mph

MPG: 53.3 combined

CO2 emissions: 120g/km

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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