Expert Reviews

First drive: Dacia Sandero 2017

Friday 23 December 2016

First drive: Dacia Sandero 2017

As well as a mild facelift, Dacia’s budget hatchback has been treated to a new three-cylinder engine. Called the TCe 75, it is the new entry-spec engine and comes in at a very reasonable £5,995.

We tested it with the range-topping Laureate trim level, though, which is more expensive – but only in Europe; Dacia isn’t going to offer it on these shores.

Looks & Image

The latest Sandero has been fitted with new lights and a blocky new grille, but otherwise it’s pretty much unchanged. That’s no great issue – there’s never been anything especially wrong with the little Dacia’s no-frills looks – but it doesn’t do anything to help the brand stand out.

Yes, Dacia has become better known in recent years, but when all’s said and done it’s still a small Romanian company making brand new cars out of old Renault platforms. This Sandero, for example, is an old-generation Clio underneath.

Space & Practicality

You’d have thought a brand majoring on value would build a practical car, and so it has proven. Its 320-litre boot is up there with the likes of the Skoda Fabia and Honda Jazz at the top of the class and streets ahead of big players such as the Ford Fiesta.

The cabin is decently practical, too, and the four-star Euro NCAP safety rating is reasonable, if unremarkable.

Behind the Wheel

If you don’t expect too much from the Sandero, it won’t leave you disappointed. Yes, you can say that about pretty much anything, but it has to be remembered that we are dealing with a cheap runabout here, rather than anything that pretends to be remotely sporty.

Drive the Sandero with that in mind, and it’s more than acceptable. It doesn’t set the world on fire with its dynamic capabilities – its underpinnings are from an old Clio, after all – but there is a modicum of fun to be had if you try hard enough.

Certainly, it’ll be more than solid enough for those in search of a little urban run-around that won’t break the bank. It’s comfortable, even on rutted roads, and it’s easy to manoeuvre – particularly in high-spec guise, where a reversing camera is offered.

Value for Money

Value is Dacia’s forte, and the firm has pulled it off yet again with the new Sandero. The sub-£6,000 asking price is hugely tempting, and though the sparseness of the Access trim level does rather detract from the car’s ultimately adequate qualities, spending another £1,000 or so on a superior model still leaves you with a cheap car.

It would be a reasonably well-equipped car, too, complete with Bluetooth, digital radio and air conditioning.

Who would buy one ?

The Sandero is a decent effort at building a small cheap car, and it isn’t without its plus points, but it really is just aimed at people who are budgeting for a used car but could be tempted by a new model’s warranty.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Dacia Sandero
Engine: Three-cylinder petrol (72bhp, 97Nm)
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Performance: 0-60mph in 14 seconds, top speed 98mph
Economy: 54.3mpg (combined)
Emissions: 117g/km CO2

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