Smart-looking, spacious, and above all great value
Very little that can’t be explained away by its price
What is it?
When it was launched the latest version of the Dacia Sandero was the cheapest new car you could buy in the UK with prices starting from less than £8,000. Skip ahead to the present day and the entry-level Sandero is now £12.5k, losing its title to the Citroen Ami (if you can call it a car, if not, to the Kia Picanto).
Sign of the times? Probably. Although the honest little Sandero still undercuts the UK’s best-selling superminis, namely the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta. And on the face of it neither offer much more car as the price tag premiums suggest.
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.
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 too.
It looks smart, and inside has more than enough space enough for five people and their luggage. The outgoing Sandero, which we liked very much, looked and felt cheap. This latest 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 bought were the entry-level Access model, and you would think it’s even less now that it’s, er, no longer on sale. Nope, the entry-spec car is now the Essential model at £13,795, and the most you can spend on the Sandero is the £14,795 it takes to land the top-spec Expression edition.
That buys you all available tech, including cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry, climate control and a parking camera.
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 £15,295 and rising to more than £17,000 for the pricier auto. 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.
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.
In June 2022 Dacia gave the car a little facelift. It was nothing more extensive than a new logo, paint options and grille design. Mechanically it’s unchanged.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The Dacia Sandero is, and always has been, almost comically cheap. And it continues to be as global market forces put the car market through the wringer. It makes no promises it cannot keep, and absolutely nails the brief Dacia set for it: simple, spacious motoring for pennies on the pound. Supermini size and space for (often sub) city car money. This latest 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.