Dacia Sandero 1.0 TCe Bi-Fuel Essential 5dr
The Sandero is only available with the one engine option these days: the ‘TCe 90’ turbocharged 1.0-litre with 89bhp, twinned with either a six-speed manual gearbox or CVT automatic depending on trim. There is no diesel, because diesels are complicated and expensive, and the ever so slightly more powerful (but no faster) ‘Bi-Fuel’ version - which allowed the 1.0-litre turbo to run on LPG stored in a tank located where the spare wheel would otherwise have been - has vanished from the configurator too.
However, the TCe 90 in the regular Sandero is just fine. With a 0-62mph figure of 11.7 seconds in manual guise or 13.4 seconds as an auto, it is far from fast. However, there’s something to be said for wringing out what little power there is on a motorway sliproad, and there’s a level of entertainment to be found in selecting the right ratio on the rare occasion you get a sniff of an overtake.
You’re right, this isn’t a driver's car by any stretch of the imagination. But when you’ve got so little power under your right foot, you become less interested in gathering momentum and more focused on maintaining the momentum you’ve already got. And that’s, y’know, an interesting way to drive.
We digress. This latest Sandero feels peppier than the old car. Whether that’s down to a recalibration or shorter gearing (the previous gen only ever had a five-speed gearbox, whereas the new car has six) isn’t clear.
Oh it’s more than enough power for the day-to-day, with no annoying peaks or troughs in the power delivery (though it does run out of puff at the top end), it doesn’t make too much noise and the noise it does make isn’t unpleasant. The new gearbox is a bit whiny but smooth and easy-going. And the brakes work (which may be a relief to some given the price).
Cornering isn’t the least bit sporty either, of course. The Sandero rolls, but the steering is light and easy and the ride copes well enough with Britain’s uniquely terrible B-roads. It’s very easy to drive smoothly, despite a hazy clutch pedal and poor throttle calibration.
You’d think so, but there aren’t really. It’s a tidy, comfy, grown-up car to potter around in with a deal more finesse than its price tag would suggest. Even works on the motorway, where the new Sandero is noticeably more refined and stable than the old one. Bit of wind noise sure, but nothing the radio won’t drown out.
Dacia says the new, more rigid platform and new engine mounts mean fewer vibrations are transmitted into the cabin. It’s quieter in there too, thanks to more sound-deadening materials and better aerodynamics. While there is still more road and tyre noise than you’d get in a Fiesta or Polo, it really isn’t bad.
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