In-depth reviews

Dacia Sandero Stepway hatchback review

"Headline-grabbing price and improved features make the Dacia Sandero Stepway a tempting option"

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Price
£8,380 - £14,625

Pros

  • Great value
  • Smart interior
  • LPG version available

Cons

  • Mediocre performance
  • Just one engine
  • Average warranty

Since its arrival, the Dacia Sandero has filled an important niche as Britain's most affordable supermini. The latest high-riding Sandero Stepway builds on this, offering vastly improved safety and technology, along with an added dose of style.

The price really is the main selling point when it comes to the Sandero. This five-seat hatchback with trendy SUV styling starts from around £11,500 and even the range-topping Prestige model is well under £15,000. For comparison, a Ford Fiesta Active starts from around £20,000, while a Honda Jazz Crosstar has a starting price of more than £23,000.

Best cheap-to-run cars

In the old model, it was easy to spot some of the cost-cutting measures at a glance but they're better hidden this time. It's a neater design than before, with attractive Y-shaped daytime running lights, swollen wheel arches, chunky alloy wheels and skid-plate style trim beneath the bumpers. The modular roof bars are a neat design too, turning into a roof rack for heavy or bulky items that won't fit in the 328-litre boot.

The Sandero is based on the same underpinnings as the latest Renault Clio - our favourite small car - and that's most evident inside. The climate control knobs are identical for instance, and overall, materials in the Stepway have taken a big step up in quality. We'd recommend skipping the Essential trim and going straight for Comfort; its eight-inch touchscreen makes the interior feel modern, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto should also keep connectivity up-to-date.

Both engine options are versions of the same petrol three-cylinder, badged either TCe 90 or TCe 100 Bi-Fuel. The cheaper version will suit most drivers, and returns around 50mpg. The Bi-Fuel is intriguing, because it's one of the only cars on sale in the UK with an LPG (liquid petroleum gas) fuel tank in addition to its petrol one. This means it can switch between the two fuels, with LPG costing significantly less to buy.

Considering just how much you get for your money, the Sandero Stepway represents staggering value. The fact there are now fewer compromises in key areas like safety equipment only adds to its desirability, and should help broaden Dacia's appeal.

MPG, running costs & CO2

The option of running on LPG could bring significant cost savings

Considering the price of the Sandero Stepway is so low, even without the most economical engine fitted, your motoring budget would still be in the green. So the fact the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is pretty thrifty only makes the Dacia more compelling. There are just two versions available - the standard TCe 90 and a TCe 100 Bi-Fuel version.

The former will be the best bet for most drivers, costing a bit less and returning a very reasonable 50.4mpg, while emitting 127g/km of CO2 for a middling Benefit-in-Kind band. With an automatic gearbox fitted, economy takes a hit - dropping to 45.6mpg - and emissions climb to 139g/km.

So what is the Bi-Fuel version? Costing around £400 extra, Dacia is currently the only mainstream UK brand that will fit an LPG tank as well as the petrol tank, with a switch to flick between the two fuels. 

The advantage is that LPG is around half the price to buy, although there are a few caveats. Fuel efficiency isn't quite as good while running in LPG mode, and not every forecourt sells it - it's worth checking where you can buy LPG in your area before relying on it. This version can return up to 48.7mpg, with emissions of around 131g/km.

Insurance groups span from 11 (out of 50) for the TCe 90 Auto to group 15 for the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel, so the Stepway is unlikely to be expensive to insure for most drivers. Vehicle tax costs the standard VED rate each year.

Engines, drive & performance

Decent handling and a peppy engine but the Stepway isn’t a performance car

It's not a car for enthusiasts, the Sandero Stepway, yet it carries out tasks like family trips around town and the occasional motorway drive perfectly well and without fuss. It's based on the same platform as the excellent Renault Clio afterall, albeit with a 39mm boost in ground clearance versus the regular Sandero. This hardly turns it into an off-roader - only front-wheel drive is available - but you won't have to worry about scraping its underbelly when driving up kerbs or along rutted farm tracks.

Even with the 99bhp three-cylinder petrol engine and a six-speed manual gearbox fitted, the TCe 100 Stepway isn't exactly quick, taking 11.9 seconds to get from 0-62mph and topping out at 109mph. It's not the sort of car you take out for a drive but it's quick enough to easily keep up with traffic.

The TCe 90 has an 89bhp three-cylinder petrol engine and manual gearbox. It’s only slightly behind the TCe 100 engine, managing 0-62mph in 12 seconds and a top speed of 107mph.

Buyers can opt for a CVT automatic gearbox with the TCe 90 engine for around £1,000 extra. Officially, the automatic Sandero Stepway is the slowest of the range, taking 14.2 seconds to do 0-62mph.

On the road, the engine remains an effective performer that doesn’t feel as slow as its official benchmark figures. It offers maximum pulling power at around 2,000rpm, helping it to get up to speed at a reasonable pace, and is refined and relaxing at motorway speeds. While the CVT box isn’t particularly advanced and is slow to react, it does suit the relaxed nature of the Sandero Stepway.

The laid back driving dynamics are helped by the suspension setup, which is fairly soft compared with most of the car’s rivals. This helps make it comfortable most of the time; only larger bumps and lumps make it through to the inside of the car. The trade off is that the suspension does little to prevent body lean, so the car pitches quite a lot in sharper turns.

Interior & comfort

Dacia has transformed the interior; it's now a far nicer place to be

The interior could be the area of most noticeable improvement, because its design now appears more modern and less obviously 'budget' - despite the car’s small price tag. Top versions feature soft-touch material and stylish trim, there's padding where your elbows rest on the doors, and Comfort trims even get an eight-inch touchscreen. There are also neat touches like a smartphone holder on the dashboard, complete with a USB charger right next to it so you don't need to trail wires across the fascia.

Trim levels are called Essential, Comfort and Prestige, with the entry-level car getting 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a smartphone holder. Considering how affordable it still is, Comfort seems like a good pick, particularly as it adds the eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also gets soft-touch interior trim, keyless entry, modular roof bars and a rear-view camera. The Prestige range-topper has diamond-cut alloy wheels, heated front seats, front parking sensors, climate control and extra safety kit.  

Practicality & boot space

A decent boot and a clever roof rack make the Stepway a flexible car

Rather like Skoda in the Volkswagen Group, Dacia is Renault's affordable and practical sister-brand. Not only does it have a raised ground clearance, but the Stepway also gets a boost over the normal Sandero thanks to its modular roof bars, fitted as standard to Comfort and Prestige versions. These can quickly be converted into a roof rack, and they can carry an impressive load of up to 80kg on the roof - all without having to splash out on accessories.

There's plenty of room inside too, with two adults who sat in the back during our test drive both remarking on how comfortable it was. There's a decent seating position for the driver and visibility is also pretty good, no doubt helped slightly by the higher ride height. Boot space measures 328 litres but like the Renault Clio, there's a fairly high boot lip to lift heavy items over. Choose the Bi-Fuel version and the LPG tank is hidden under the boot floor but this does mean there's no longer a spare wheel. 

Reliability & safety

Some Dacia models have gone without certain safety equipment but this car is more up-to-date

While Dacia models have always majored on affordability, this has come at the expense of safety kit in some models.Thankfully, the move to more advanced new underpinnings has given Dacia access to the latest safety features from across the Renault group.

For instance, autonomous emergency braking can now help mitigate or avoid a collision, and it's fitted as standard. If a serious collision should occur, there are six airbags and an E-call system will automatically alert the emergency services of the vehicle's location. The Prestige trim is also fitted with blind spot warnings, making it safer to change lanes on the motorway or manoeuvre in built-up areas.

When the new Sandero Stepway was tested by Euro NCAP, it scored a paltry two stars. This low rating was due to its basic radar-only autonomous emergency braking system, which lacks pedestrians and cyclist detection and lane keeping assistance. According to Euro NCAP, the Sandero Stepway offers respectable protection in an accident and would have earned a four-star rating if it wasn’t for the technology shortfall.

It will be some time before we can judge the Sandero Stepway's reliability accurately because so much of it is new. However, its petrol engines are very common across other Renault models, and should prove cheap to maintain and robust. It's a shame the three-year or 60,000-mile warranty isn’t longer, though, as many rivals from the likes of Toyota and Hyundai now come with five years of cover or more.

Next Steps

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 SCe Essential 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £8,380

Most Economical

  • Name
    0.9 TCe Techroad 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £11,235

Fastest

  • Name
    0.9 TCe Techroad 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £11,235

Recommended

Volkswagen T-Cross SUV review
Turquoise VW T-Cross driving
Volkswagen T-Cross
28 Jul 2021

Volkswagen T-Cross SUV review

Bentley Bentayga SUV review
Bentley Bentayga Hybrid
Bentley Bentayga
28 Jul 2021

Bentley Bentayga SUV review

Audi Q7 SUV review
Audi Q7 SUV
Audi Q7
28 Jul 2021

Audi Q7 SUV review

Citroën C3 Aircross SUV review
Citroen C3 Aircross SUV
Citroën C3 Aircross
26 Jul 2021

Citroën C3 Aircross SUV review

Have You Considered

Dacia Sandero hatchback review
2021 Dacia Sandero hatchback - front 3/4
Dacia Sandero
10 Jun 2021

Dacia Sandero hatchback review

Most Popular

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Top 10 most comfortable cars 2021
Mercedes E-Class saloon
Mercedes E-Class saloon
26 Jul 2021

Top 10 most comfortable cars 2021

What is a V5C? Here’s everything you need to know about the logbook
V5C close up
Tips and advice
22 Jul 2021

What is a V5C? Here’s everything you need to know about the logbook

More on Sandero Stepway hatchback

Dacia Sandero: old vs new
Dacia Sandero old vs new header
Dacia Sandero
16 Feb 2021

Dacia Sandero: old vs new

The Dacia Sandero is still the UK’s cheapest new car but how does this new model compare to the last one?
Special edition cars: the best, worst and weirdest
Jeep Cherokee SUV
15 Dec 2020

Special edition cars: the best, worst and weirdest

Take a look at the best and most memorable special edition cars
New 2020 Dacia Sandero: prices, specs and release date
New 2021 Dacia Sandero Stepway
Dacia Sandero
2 Dec 2020

New 2020 Dacia Sandero: prices, specs and release date

The all-new Sandero has more equipment but starting price remains at £7,995
Dacia Sandero Stepway hatchback review (2013-2021)
Dacia Sandero Stepway hatchback
Dacia Sandero Stepway hatchback
18 May 2020

Dacia Sandero Stepway hatchback review (2013-2021)

“The Dacia Sandero Stepway is a rugged supermini with SUV aspirations, lots of space and small running costs”
Dacia reveals trio of SE Twenty special-edition models
Dacia MCV Logan Stepway SE Twenty front 3/4 view
Dacia Duster SUV
6 Jan 2020

Dacia reveals trio of SE Twenty special-edition models

SE Twenty models of the Dacia Duster, Logan MCV Stepway and the Sandero Stepway have been unveiled
Dacia Techroad limited editions start at £11,660
Dacia Techroad Sandero Stepway, Duster and Logan MCV Stepway
Dacia Duster SUV
1 Apr 2019

Dacia Techroad limited editions start at £11,660

Prices for the limited-edition Dacia Duster, Sandero Stepway and Logan MCV Stepway models have been announced
New engines for Dacia Sandero Stepway announced
Dacia Sandero Stepway hatchback
10 Jan 2019

New engines for Dacia Sandero Stepway announced

Dacia’s best-selling model gains two new engines and updated trim levels for 2019
New Kia Picanto X-Line launches with SUV cues
Kia Picanto hatchback
5 Sep 2017

New Kia Picanto X-Line launches with SUV cues

Kia Picanto city car gets crossover treatment with X-Line mods; 15mm higher, SUV-inspired bumpers and silver skid plates
Dacia Sandero, Duster, Logan models revised
7 Dec 2016

Dacia Sandero, Duster, Logan models revised

Improved Dacia Sandero, Dacia Sandero Stepway and Dacia Logan MCV debut alongside new engine

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
6 May 2021

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks