Dacia Sandero hatchback
Price £5,995 - £9,795
- Incredible value for money
- Cheap to run
- Big boot
- Dull design
- Cheap interior
- Not much fun to drive
At a glance
"The Dacia Sandero is the cheapest new car available to buy in the UK, but it's also spacious, comfortable and cheap to run."
Romanian firm Dacia is owned by Renault and uses many of the French company's old parts for its cars, making them cheaper to build than models that are designed from scratch. The Dacia Sandero is a prime example of this because it's bigger than cars such as the Volkswagen up! and Hyundai i10, but undercuts them on price, and is actually the cheapest car on sale in the UK.
You have to accept when buying a Dacia that you’re not getting the last word in sophistication. The Sandero uses some old Renault engines, meaning you can choose from two petrols – a 1.2-litre and a hi-tech 0.9-litre engine – and a 1.5-litre diesel. All are relatively cheap to run.
The Dacia may have a very low price, but the basic Dacia Sandero Access model does without even a stereo, although you could get one retro-fitted for around £50. Ambiance models get the stereo as standard, as well as getting useful kit such as a Bluetooth phone connection and electric windows, but you’ll have to splash out on the top-of-the-range Dacia Sandero Laureate if you want air conditioning.
Not sure what you're looking for? Find out what we think is the best small car by watching our video below.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Running costs are low thanks to efficient engines and flexible warranties
None of the models in the Dacia Sandero range are expensive to run, but the 1.2-litre petrol has the worst fuel economy at a still respectable 48.7mpg, while emissions of 135g/km mean road tax will be £130 annually. The more modern 0.9-litre petrol manages economy of 56.5mpg and drops CO2 emissions down to just 116g/km for road tax of £30 every year, although it's a more expensive model to buy. It's the diesel that wins the economy game, however - it can get up to 74.3mpg and its emissions are low enough that it qualifies for road tax exemption.
Servicing costs for the Sandero should be cheap and, while the three-year/60,000 mile warranty isn’t as generous as the ones given by other companies, it can be extended up to seven-years/100,000 miles at a cost of just £850.
Interior & comfort
As basic as the budget price would suggest but not uncomfortable
You’re not going to find many fancy touches inside the Sandero, as it trades on being a budget model, but what it lacks in glitzy appeal it makes up for with more interior space than most rivals.
Only the top-of-the-range model gets a height adjustable driver's seat and steering wheel, though, so getting comfortable behind the wheel may not be as easy as it is in more upmarket rivals. The seats look basic but they are supportive and the Sandero's soft suspension also makes for a comfortable ride.
Practicality & boot space
By far the most practical car for the money
At this price, you’ll be hard pressed to get a car that is more practical than the Dacia Sandero. It's a five-door car only, which means there's excellent access to the back seats and, once in, you’ll get more legroom than a similarly priced supermini.
The same is true in the boot and the Sandero's load capacity of 320 litres compares well to more expensive models such as the Hyundai i10 (252 litres), Ford Fiesta (276 litres), and Skoda Citigo (251 litres). Fold down the rear seats and luggage capacity tops out at 1,200 litres.
Storage areas are also plentiful thanks to a large glovebox, additional space on the dash, good-sized door pockets and two cupholders.
Reliability & safety
Four star safety rating is a bit disappointing but it should be reliable
Dacia may be relatively new to the UK, but the company has already made an impact in our Driver Power survey, finishing fifth out of 33 manufacturers. Unsurprisingly, affordability was one of its main strengths.
Out of the 150 cars in our model rankings, the Dacia Sandero finished in 43rd place, but even more impressively came 36th for reliability. The Sandero's extremely low price also means you can buy a brand new car, with a full warranty, rather than having to settle for a more expensive second-hand model.
The Dacia Sandero was retested by Euro NCAP for safety last year and got awarded four stars. Although the majority of its rivals get five stars, the Sandero still comes with stability control, traction control, airbags, and anti-lock brakes.
Engines, drive & performance
Engines are good but Sandero’s handling is pretty poor
If you want any kind of enjoyable performance, the basic 1.2-litre petrol engine is to be avoided, thanks to 0-62mph taking a lethargic 14.5 seconds. Both the 0.9-litre petrol and the 1.5-litre diesel are much nippier and get from 0-62mph in 11.1 and 12.1 seconds respectively.
With a soft suspension set up, the Dacia Sandero is a comfortable car but it is not much fun in the corners thanks to plenty of body lean if you enter a bend at speed. Both wind and road noise is effectively kept at bay, though.
Price, value for money & options
Easily one of the best value cars that money can buy
There aren’t many cars that can claim to offer the value for money of the Dacia Sandero. Not only is it cheaper to buy than its competitors, but you’re also getting a car that's bigger and more spacious.
Access models are very basic – they even do without a standard-fit radio – so we’d go for the Ambiance trim level. It gets a stereo, Bluetooth phone connection, electric front windows, remote central locking, and a light in the boot – a useful feature that isn’t included in the entry-level model. The Laureate shows of its top-of-the-range status with items such as alloy wheels, a chrome grille, cruise control, air-conditioning and front and back electric windows. It can also be ordered with a touchscreen sat-nav system for £300.
What the others say
"Its ace up the sleeve is its competitive price - designed to turn heads of those looking for a supermini that won't break the bank."
"Thanks to an unbeatable combination of price, space and equipment, Europe’s fastest growing automotive brand for the last six years has appealed to smart consumers in every country in which the brand is on sale, who have realised they can buy a car which easily meets their needs, without spending more than they need to."
"Even in top-spec trim and with sat-nav fitted, the Sandero costs around £800 less than the cheapest Ford Fiesta, which is gob-smacking value for money. But it’s not all about the rock-bottom price tag - interior quality is better than expected and the way it drives is calm, quiet and composed, too, so long as you don’t push it too hard. Factor in rear seats and a boot that’s among the most spacious in the supermini class, and the Sandero is an accomplished new car, for the price of a used one."
"The Dacia Sandero isn't faultless; there's evidence of cost-cutting measures throughout, but that's hardly surprising when you consider that the mid-spec 0.9 TCe model costs £3100 less than the cheapest five-door Ford Fiesta. What's even more astonishing is that the Sandero isn't worth recommending on price alone. It's pleasant to drive, easy to see out of and doesn't feel as low-rent inside as you might expect. The Sandero is an endearing and well-rounded package that requires fewer compromises than expected given the incredibly low price."