Dacia Sandero simply makes sense
- Credit: Renault Marketing 3D-Commerce
Dacia's Sandero supermini is a sensible car at a sensible price with a lot of space and practicality for the money, says Matt Kimberley, PA motoring writer.
After years of indecision within Dacia, the Sandero is finally coming to Britain and it promises to change the rules of car-buying – or at least take them back to simpler times.
The buying process will be easy. The price is the price for a start, so it avoids the fiscal duel that is haggling. And every Dacia cuts out unnecessary pomp you don't really need, like soft-touch dashboards and leather trim. If you just want an affordable new car, you'll love Dacia.
Until now there hasn't been a business case for building the Sandero and its platform-sharing soft-roader sibling, the Sandero Stepway, in right-hand drive, but after much success on the Continent the time is ripe for us Brits to learn what all the fuss is about.
Dacia is owned by Renault, which is part of a technology-sharing alliance with Nissan. It's the company's value brand, making price and reliability the priorities. The two don't necessarily go hand in hand, you might think, but the vast majority of every Dacia is tried-and-tested old Renault bits, from which any bugs have been ironed out. As such Dacias are apparently among the most reliable cars in Europe.
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Take the Sandero. Its chassis is a mixture of front end bits from the Dacia Lodgy, the rear axle of the Renault Kangoo and scattered bits of the third-generation Renault Clio. It's a sizeable thing and this is what Dacia is all about – offering maximum car for minimum money.
The boot is huge, much bigger than you would expect from a car costing A-segment car money. The space is on the large side even for a B-segment car, which is a perfect example of the value for money that the Sandero represents.
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The panel gaps aren't always consistent, but when was the last time you actually checked the panel gaps on a car? Basically the Sandero is a no-frills, simple car.
The inside is plain, utilitarian and practical, but not unpleasant. High-end models, which still cost less than £9,000, have a little more decoration but the huge glove box and storage bins in the cabin remain, including a large one on top of the dashboard. Day to day the Sandero is one of the most sensible cars you can buy.
Its seats are comfortable; not as hard as a typical German car's but not as soft as some French ones, its ventilation controls are easy to use with clear markings, and the driving position is within a reasonable range for a lot of people, albeit without steering wheel reach adjustment. Those longer of arm and shorter of leg will be most comfortable, but it's fine.
There are three engines from a basic 1.2-litre petrol to an advanced and gutsy 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel. The turbo petrol is the sweetest but the 1.2 offers a good entry point. The 89bhp diesel achieves 99g/km of CO2, making it the cheapest sub-100g/km car on sale in the UK.
The diesel suffers a little vibration under acceleration in fourth and fifth gears, but it's not enough to put you off. The maths point inevitably to the 1.2 petrol being the cheapest to own over a few years of below-average mileage, but if like most European Dacia owners you plan to keep a car for six or seven years before changing, the turbo model will be better to own and, with cheaper road tax and better economy, potentially cheaper over its lifetime.
Chassis dynamics are things that no Sandero buyer is going to be overly concerned with, but fortunately the car steers, stops, rides and cruises perfectly well. The ride is a little bouncy at times but that's not unusual in cars costing double the Sandero's price, so it's entirely forgivable.
This is a sensible car for a sensible price that will get the job done for a much lower outlay than other cars of its size. On the other hand, it offers much, much more space and practicality than other cars in its price bracket. Whichever way you look at it, the Sandero is going to turn heads.