From £5,345
The cheapest Dacia Sandero - indeed the cheapest new car on sale - offers plenty of appeal, but it's hard to consider it a rival for the likes of the Ford Fiesta

Our Verdict

Dacia Sandero

The Sandero represents basic motoring done well, for those who really want it

Jim Holder
5 February 2013

What is it?

Its full name is the Dacia Sandero Access 1.2 16V 75, but in simpler terms it is the base model in the budget range, priced at £5995.

This particular model breaks through that budget cap via the addition of a £250 stereo and £50 spare wheel, but neither should detract from our first opportunity to sample this headline-grabbing base model.

That means that it only comes in United Nations-spec white with black bumpers, 15-inch steel wheels and with a mainly no-frills approach to standard kit. In basic terms everything you need is here, plus you get ABS, ESC, traction control, ISOFIX, power steering, split-folding rear seats, a driver’s airbag, side airbags, an immobiliser and an audible warning if you leave the lights on.

The list isn’t generous, but nor is it needlessly sparse. The only likely gripe of real substance is the absence of an adjustable steering column.

What's it like?

If you were told to drive without knowing what you were in, there is no way you would guess this is Britain’s cheapest new car. It is well built, well presented and exudes rugged good sense in the way it goes about pretty much everything. There are many worse value city cars and superminis on sale today.

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Euro5 emission regulations determine that the 1.2-litre petrol is reasonably modern. Sure, 74bhp at 5500rpm and 109lb ft of torque at 4250rpm does not deliver performance to get excited about even in a 941kg car, with 0-62mph coming in at a slovenly 14.5sec. However, keep it below 2200rpm (as urged by the gearchange indicator) and progress is reasonably refined and more than sufficient for town use. Dacia claims 48.7mpg, too, and while that is inevitably optimistic, we did manage 42mpg.

Faster roads and overtaking inevitably present more of a challenge, but so long as you're prepared to plan ahead there is enough here to ensure you can keep with the flow of traffic at all times, albeit with an ever-increasing amount of engine and road noise intruding into the cabin. 

Grip levels are slight, but the handling is accurate. However, flat, gripless seats do little to encourage spirited driving, and neither do the brittle ride and notchy gearbox. The Sandero, somewhat inevitably, is best viewed as a modest way of getting from A to B as opposed to a car in which to enjoy driving – beyond, of course, the certain smugness that comes with pushing a cheap motor along at the same pace as vastly more expensive rivals.

Taken at the same values, the cabin does an equally decent job. There’s no air-con, electric windows, central locking or even glove box light or vanity mirror, but the basics are present and correct and the recycled Renault switchgear doesn’t remotely shout ‘cheap’. The boot is a good size, the folding rear seats add an attractive extra dimension and there’s room for two adults and two children to travel in reasonable comfort (with a third rear seatbelt if you’re prepared to squeeze up).

This latest generation Sandero has yet to be tested by Euro NCAP.


Should I buy one?

If you are of the mindset of using a car merely to get from one place to another, especially in towns, then this is a perfectly adequate and at times charming way to do it. There is a certain not-too-shabby chic about the Sandero that gives it a strong case for being an appealing second or workhorse car.

It also has its appeal as an alternative to many used cars, particularly as you’d be starting your ownership with a three-year warranty ahead of, rather than behind, you. The prospect of low buying and running costs will appeal to many.

The mistake, however, would be to think that you're getting a car of Ford Fiesta quality or similar at this budget price. That simply isn’t possible for £6000. In purely objective terms, the Sandero does adequate very well, but rarely pushes beyond that.

Dacia Sandero Access 1.2 16V 75

Price £5995; 0-62mph 14.5sec; Top speed 97mph; Economy 48.7mpg; CO2 135g/km; Engine 1149cc, four-cylinder, petrol; Kerb weight 941kg; Power 74bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 79lb ft at 4250rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual

Join the debate


5 February 2013

There is of course the argument of what else you can buy second hand for £6,000 but that would definitely be missing the point of this car.

For me the lack of "electrics" and extras make this a car that will be easy and cheap to maintain for many years.  I'd wager you'll see more of these around in ten years time than you will many of its competitors as there is less to go wrong and financially write off the car.




It's all about the twisties........

5 February 2013

Whilst I don't doubt that it is missing the point of the car, the idea of buying a 4-5 year old Fiesta or Polo for the same money is still a hell of a lot more appealing than this. 

On a side note, it would be interesting to see the average age of Dacia buyers in the UK. I have no idea what it is in mainland Europe, but I'm guessing it'll be quite old i.e. the same buyers that bought Daihatsus before they left the market and Kias before they became decent. Not that that decreases the purpose or point of this car, but I can't see it having a huge cross-demographic appeal.

6 February 2013

TegTypeR wrote:

There is of course the argument of what else you can buy second hand for £6,000 but that would definitely be missing the point of this car.

For me the lack of "electrics" and extras make this a car that will be easy and cheap to maintain for many years.  I'd wager you'll see more of these around in ten years time than you will many of its competitors as there is less to go wrong and financially write off the car.

What is the rustproofing like?

I see the Sandero as something like the successor to the mk1 Felicia - which tend to go around the arches after a few years.

Dacias in Spain seem to last, but they wouldn't be using salt on the roads.

5 February 2013

That is the dilemma a car can be much more than a way of getting from A to B.  What should you do with your 6K if you need a car?

5 February 2013

The cheapest Fiesta costs almost twice as much and is considerably slower.  I would rather have this and a decent motorbike/MX5/world cruise etc. etc.

5 February 2013

I agree with Teg that the lack of electrics will see many of these on the road for many years, if the rust proofing is up to scratch. However the lack crash safety is a concern, many second hand £6k superminis do better, plus given Renaults knowledge on the ride and handling I would expect better than a 'brittle' ride. On the subject ofvalue, how about a new 2.0 tdci Mondeo Zetec for £13k. Dozens on autotrader for less than most superminis cost.  

5 February 2013

If you can get past the badge, (and plenty will) then it will be a great buy - imagine just how many of these would have been sold if the govt scrappage scheme was still in place?

Skoda has manged the trick of attracting the anti badge-snob and sells well, so if Dacia can manage the same thick they may save Renault from their foolish electric car ventures.

5 February 2013

People keep referring to how the new Sandero scored a disappointing three stars in Euroncap tests. As far as I know the only Sandero to be tested was the first generation version. The new one is stronger and has standard ESC and side/head airbags. Let's wait until they test it before writing it off.....

5 February 2013

As a motorist who thinks we in the UK are made to pay exorbitant prices for rather ordinary cars which sell for far less in other parts of the world, I wholeheartedly welcome Dacia to the UK. I hope its value offerings will make mainstream car makers rethink their UK pricing.

5 February 2013

A Fiesta is nearly twice as much and how good is that really in poverty spec?  This is like reviewing a £20k Ford Focus and saying, yeah but its not as good as a Porsche Boxster.

This is a revolutionary car.  People need cheap mobility and £6k for a car that's near enough modern standards and enjoys 3 years with no unexpected bills is a game changer.   Look how much closer this is to the pace compared to say the difference between a Lada and Ford twenty years ago?

Bravo Dacia.  I'd buy one.


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