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”
If you’re looking for a low-cost way into a new car, the Dacia Sandero is hard to beat. It has been at the very bottom of UK price lists since it first went on sale. It’s cheap, definitely, but also surprisingly cheerful and can actually compete squarely with more expensive rivals.
It’s based on recent Renault technology, which means the mechanicals are tried and trusted, plus the build quality is perfectly fine, even if some of the materials are a bit crude. Also Dacia has been around in Europe for decades – this is no here today, gone tomorrow brand: it has the industrial might of Renault behind it.
First, we should make it clear that the remarkable £5,995 starting price is just that – a starting price. That figure buys an entry-level Access model, a stripped out cost-cutter with very few of the creature comforts we’ve become used to in modern cars. If you can live without air-conditioning, electric windows and or even a radio, though, the Access offers very capable A-to-B transport.
In every other respect, the Sandero can hold its head high against its budget-car peers. It’s priced against the Kia Picanto, Hyundai i10 and Suzuki Celerio, yet offers the passenger space of a Volkswagen Polo. Its boot is one of the biggest of all superminis, with a wide, useful opening. It rides well, too, and the 1.5-litre diesel – the most expensive Sandero engine – can return over 80mpg, while being zero-rated for road tax thanks to its low CO2 emissions.
Sadly, that engine is by far the least pleasant in the range: the petrols are a lot quieter and smoother, as well as cheaper. The best is the 89bhp 0.9-litre, as it’s economical and also reasonably nippy. The more old-fashioned 1.2-litre 72bhp engine is the only choice in the entry-level Access and is a little short on power, but still perfectly okay for shorter journeys.
As well as the Access, there are Ambiance and Laureate models, and although the latter is the most expensive, it still gets our vote as the pick of the bunch. It’s the only one with air-conditioning as standard (it’s not even optional on the others) and remains well priced. A Dacia Sandero Stepway version is also available, offering off-road looks and a little extra urban durability. We’ve reviewed it separately here.
Compared to its latest rivals, the Sandero does lag behind a little in terms of safety, although it still carries a four-star Euro NCAP rating. It just lacks some of the latest safety equipment of newer designs.
Impressively, our 2016 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey saw the Sandero finish in 19th place for reliability out of 150 cars surveyed – a remarkable result for such an affordable car. It helped the Sandero towards a creditable 30th-place overall finish.
For value with very little compromise, the Dacia Sandero is a potent package.
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