Dacia Sandero - long term review - Report No:2 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: 24 Aug 2023

The Dacia Sandero might just be the perfect everyday car for keen drivers

We’re very lucky in this job to have access to a whole range of new cars to drive for the purposes of review. That means these days I’m mostly bouncing between EVs and mini-SUVs, with the odd hybrid hatch or petrol-powered sports car thrown in on increasingly rare occasions.

As a result, the Sandero that’s here for six months is proving to be the ultimate automotive detox. Seriously. The 1.0-litre 3cyl engine and slightly stiff five-speed manual gearbox combo is just what you need after climbing out of yet another identikit 400bhp EV.

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Given that it only makes 89bhp and will wildly understeer around all but the slowest-moving roundabouts, I’m not sure Dacia’s number one priority was to make the Sandero drive like a Renaultsport Clio. And yet, thanks to the simple setup and low weight (it tips the scales at just 1,072kg), it really is proving to be excellent fun.

Because it’s so light on power you can drive it on the limit remarkably often without having to worry where the next speed camera is lurking. It requires proper engagement too – so often these days people switch off at the wheel because their car is doing everything for them, but the Sandero needs you to be in the right gear at the right time if you want any form of acceleration.

That’s part of the reason why I wouldn’t worry too much about its two-star Euro NCAP rating. Unless you’re sharing a stretch of tarmac with an old Porsche 911 Turbo, you’ll be the most alert driver on the road, plus it still scores well on passive safety and the only reason it’s a two-star car is because Dacia doesn’t see the need to fill its bargain hatch with annoying active safety systems like lane-keep assist. I’d actually see that as a positive if I was shopping for a new runaround.

It stops well too. There’s good feel through the brake pedal and there’s only been a couple of occasions where I’ve wanted for a little bit more poke to make single carriageway overtakes possible. All-in-all another strong showing for the Sandero this month, then, as it slots easily into daily life and makes each journey a giggle. With a few more miles on the clock the powertrain seems to be loosening up nicely too, and I’m still managing over 45mpg with ease, despite regularly giving in to the temptation to doorhandle it everywhere.

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Forget yoga retreats or juice-based diets, drive a Sandero if you want a proper detox in 2023.

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