Dacia Sandero Review 2021 | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear
Car Review

Dacia Sandero

£ 6,770 - £ 11,390
810
Published: 16 Dec 2020
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Makes no promises it cannot keep, and absolutely nails the brief Renault/Dacia set for it: simple, spacious motoring for pennies on the pound. Now with added refinement

Good stuff

Improves on the old car in every single way. Smart-looking, spacious and above all, great value

Bad stuff

Very little that can’t be explained away by its tiny price

Overview

What is it?

It’s the cheapest new car you can buy in Britain, with prices starting from less than £8,000. Context? The least expensive versions of the UK’s best-selling superminis, the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, cost more than double – a little over £16,000. And on the face of it neither is twice as much car as the new Sandero.

How has Dacia managed that then?

See, it’s easy to build a car cheaply. You just have to cut corners. Do the bare minimum. Fashion the dashboard out of polystyrene. Beg, borrow or steal engines and platforms other manufacturers have long since mothballed. Pay the designer in ‘exposure’ and buy off-the-shelf infotainment systems. The results are usually pretty poor. 

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But Dacia appears to have done precisely none of those things. The new Sandero – and we’re talking all new, here – sits on the same platform as the current-generation Renault Clio and Nissan Juke. It uses efficient, modern engines compliant with the latest EU emissions standards. Most versions have a six-speed gearbox. It looks smart, and inside has more than enough space enough for five people and their luggage. The outgoing Sandero, which we like very much, looks and feels cheap. This new one just… doesn’t. Not as much, anyway. It’s bewildering.

So how is the new Sandero so inexpensive? Click here for an explainer from TG’s own Paul Horrell and Dacia’s Michel Benoussan.

Does anyone actually buy it though?

Admittedly nobody actually buys the cheapest Sandero. Less than one per cent of Sanderos sold are the entry-level Access model, with the vast majority of customers upgrading in pursuit of a better engine and more kit. Even so the most you can spend on a new Sandero is £12,795. That buys you all available tech (including cruise control, Apple CarPlay, keyless entry, climate control and a parking camera) and a CVT automatic gearbox.

What about the Stepway version?

The Sandero Stepway is a bit more expensive. About a grand spec for spec versus the normal Sandero, with prices starting at £11,495 and rising to just over £15,000. The pseudo-crossover with 174mm extra ground clearance and a more rugged-looking body accounts for 60 per cent of Sandero sales in the UK.

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In size terms the new Sandero is very similar to the old one. At 4,088mm long, 1,848mm wide and 1,499 tall it’s a bit bigger than a Ford Fiesta.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

Makes no promises it cannot keep, and absolutely nails the brief Renault/Dacia set for it: simple, spacious motoring for pennies on the pound. Now with added refinement

The Dacia Sandero is, and always has been, almost comically cheap. It makes no promises it cannot keep, and absolutely nails the brief Renault/Dacia set for it: simple, spacious motoring for pennies on the pound. Supermini size and space for (often sub) city car money. This new one is much improved over the old car, with a smarter design inside and out, loads of space, more modern tech and decent road manners.

It won’t bring a smile to your face in the same way a Ford Fiesta does, but that’s fine. It’s not a car for drivers and doesn’t claim to be. Comfy enough, and gets you where you need to go without fuss or fanfare. It’s boring, and that’s a compliment. If you don’t in the least bit care about cars, this is probably what you should buy. And if you do care about cars and choose to buy something else, just be happy cheap, simple cars like the Sandero still exist.

The Sandero has been the best-selling ‘retail’ car in Europe since 2017, with over two million finding homes since 2004. On the strength of the new one, it deserves to stay at the pointy end of the sales charts. 

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