Dacia Sandero - long term review 2023 | Top Gear
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Tuesday 26th September
Long-term review

Dacia Sandero - long term review

£14,795 / £15,445 as tested / £213 PCM
Published: 28 Jul 2023
 
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We’re living with a Dacia Sandero – no longer Britain’s cheapest car

Bad news! The Dacia Sandero is no longer the cheapest new car that you can buy in the UK. The £7,695 Citroen Ami is hardly a car so we won’t count that, but the Kia Picanto can be had for a few hundred quid less than our Romanian hero. Well, it could before its recent Stormtrooper facelift – Kia hasn’t confirmed UK prices for the new look version at the time of writing, but we’d wager the entry point will still be exceptionally low.

And yet, the size-up Sandero still remains a budget icon. The range now kicks off at £13,795 for the really-very-basic ‘Essential’ trim, but the car we’re living with is one step above that and known as ‘Expression’. Although actually Dacia has simplified the range, so this is now also the top spec Sandero before you get to the lifted Stepway versions.

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The Expression trim starts at £14,795, and for that you can have either a 99bhp bi-fuel LPG and petrol powertrain or the standard 89bhp 1.0-litre 3cyl engine we have here. There’s no auto gearbox option either, so it’s a five-speed manual or nothing. We’re already liking the simplicity.

‘Our’ Sandero comes with just one option box ticked – the ‘iron blue’ paint costs an extra £650 over the base price and you’ll need it to avoid the UN spec ‘glacier white’. With the current cost of living crisis, this might just be the most on-the-ball TG has ever been. In fact, you could have a new Sandero in this trim for £213 per month if you pay over two years and put down a deposit of just £1,923. Still a proper bargain then.

This one is box-fresh, with just 600-odd miles on the clock as it arrives at TG HQ ahead of a six-month stint. Immediately it’s put into action though, with a night-time photoshoot in Birmingham pitting the Dacia up against the Skoda Fabia and Vauxhall Corsa to see which supermini might take up the Ford Fiesta’s mantle. Have a look back at Issue 374 for the full results of that test.

First impressions of the Sandero are good. Dacia’s new badge and familial face adds some neat-looking white trim in the grille and gives the little hatch a more recognisable look (previous generations could have been criticised for looking rather anonymous). And yes, those are clip-on wheel trims. You can’t actually get alloys on a Sandero unless you upgrade to the Stepway, and we’re not missing them one bit. This is substance over style motoring and we’re all for it.

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And yet, is that a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and a DAB radio inside? And is that actual cloth trim on the dash as opposed to the brittle plastics that plagued Dacia’s past? Perhaps the budget brand can keep up with the mainstream after all…

Dacia Sandero Top Gear garage
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