Dacia Sandero hatchback - Engines, drive & performance
Choose the TCe engine and the Sandero is quick enough and easy to drive
The fact the latest Sandero is based on the lighter, stiffer underpinnings of the current Clio is a great start, and the Sandero also now has a noticeably wider, and more athletic stance. Its steering is fairly light, but accurate enough to ensure the car doesn't wander along the road.
It's also pleasing that the 90 TCe's standard six-speed manual gearbox is good to use, making it easy to keep the engine in the strongest part of the rev range. Admittedly, it lacks the precision of more expensive rivals but this will be a minor compromise for most drivers. Surprisingly, the more expensive Renault Clio TCe 100 only has a five-speed manual.
The new Sandero is better to drive than ever before, and while it falls short of the more expensive Fiesta for comfort, the chassis does make it calm and effortless to drive. During our test, and despite plenty of potholes and over drain covers, the ride comfort proved this is a car aimed more at soaking up bumps than posting lap times.
There's a fair amount of body lean in corners but the Sandero is generally good enough to drive, unless you up the pace on a twisty back road. On faster roads, the 89bhp petrol engine is powerful enough to make easy progress and means the Sandero is a competent motorway cruiser.
Dacia Sandero petrol engines
Both the SCE 65 and TCe 90 use the same 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, but the latter gets a turbocharger to improve its peak figure and pulling power. While the SCE gets Dacia the accolade of the UK's cheapest new car, we'd save up for the TCe, because its performance advantage not only makes it faster, but also more relaxing to drive. With the SCE taking 16.7 seconds to get from 0-62mph, it is likely to struggle to get up to speed on motorways and dual carriageways.
With a 0-62mph time of 11.7 seconds, the TCe is capable of keeping up with traffic without much fuss, doing its best work between 1,750rpm and 3,000rpm. We found it felt very keen and responsive, and preferred driving it with the 'Eco' button pressed. This softens the throttle response slightly, not only improving fuel economy but also making it easier to accelerate smoohtly. It's also available with a CVT automatic gearbox, but we're yet to drive this model.