Dacia Sandero hatchback
Price £5,995 - £9,795
- Incredible value for money
- Cheap to run
- Big boot
- Not much fun to drive
- Interior feels cheap
- Very dull design
At a glance
“An almost unbeatable asking price, low-ish fuel consumption and impressive practicality help offset the Dacia Sandero’s budget car shortcomings”
Considering it's so cheap and mainly uses previous-generation Renault parts, the Dacia Sandero could be forgiven for being pretty unappealing. It's a pleasant surprise, then, to discover that in many ways it's a credible rival for mainstream entry-level superminis.
That ultra-low asking price, for instance, means it undercuts every other new car on sale today – although it's worth pointing out that the basic model with the headline-grabbing £5,995 asking price is devoid of many creature comforts. Likewise, although the quality of materials used is befitting of a budget car, overall fit and finish isn’t too bad.
In other areas, the Dacia Sandero doesn’t need the “...for a cheap car” justification. Its 320-litre boot is among the largest in any supermini and is made even more useful by a wide boot opening. Ride quality is also fairly good, if perhaps not quite as polished as most comfortable superminis on the market. Running costs for the Sandero aren’t bad, either: the 1.5-litre diesel can return over 80mpg and is road-tax-exempt.
It's a shame the engines themselves don’t really have any redeeming qualities besides those impressive economy figures. The 1.5-litre diesel is by far the least refined Sandero engine; the noise it makes gets quite tiresome on long motorway journeys and the low 89bhp power output means you have to work it hard to get up to speed.
Going for one of the two petrol engines (an 89bhp 0.9-litre or a 72bhp 1.2-litre) makes the Sandero more bearable on longer trips – although still a bit rough, they’re much smoother than the diesel and will be a better fit for buyers who’ll spend most of their driving time in built-up areas. Of the two, we’re inclined to recommend the more economical 0.9-litre, but it's worth pointing out that it's not available on the entry-level Access model, while the fact that it's turbocharged means it isn’t as responsive at lower speeds as the 1.2-litre.
The Sandero does lag behind rivals a bit for safety: it received a four-star Euro NCAP score when it was crash-tested in 2013. It was rated fairly highly for occupant safety (80% for adults, 79% for children) while all Sanderos come with emergency braking assistance and tyre-pressure monitoring.
As far as reliability goes, the Dacia Sandero should hold up well. As it's made almost entirely of parts from now-discontinued Renault models, any major kinks and faults should have been ironed out by now. To further ease the ownership experience, Dacia also offers extended warranty cover, which can be extended to a Kia-matching seven-year/100,000-mile limit.
The Sandero hatchback has since spawned a 'crossover' version called the Dacia Sandero Stepway, with a raised ride height and some rugged off-road features.
Avoid the 1.2-litre Dacia Sandero hatchback if you want tiny bills
The Dacia Sandero hatchback is very comfortable, but it’s no sports car
The Dacia Sandero hatchback’s cabin is dull but worthy
The Dacia Sandero hatchback is incredibly spacious for its price
Given its low price, the Dacia Sandero hatchback performs surprisingly well on the reliability front