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In-depth reviews

Dacia Spring hatchback review

“The Dacia Spring is likely to be the UK’s cheapest electric supermini, with a decent driving range and performance but also some compromises in safety and interior quality.”

Carbuyer Rating

3.2 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review

Pros

  • Bargain price
  • Reasonable range
  • Decent boot

Cons

  • Cramped rear seats
  • Poor interior quality
  • Low safety score

Verdict - Is the Dacia Spring a good car?

If the Dacia Spring really can hit a price tag of £20,000 or less when it arrives in the UK in 2024 it will appeal to an entirely new group of potential EV buyers. Along with its tempting price, they’ll no doubt also be impressed with its 140-mile range, a decent boot and 78mph top speed – something the Citroen Ami can’t manage. They’ll also have to be prepared to make some compromises, which include a fairly basic interior and minimal safety tech.

Dacia Spring models, specs and alternatives

While today an electric car is considered cheap if it comes in below £30,000, fast-forward a couple of years and we expect a lot more affordable EV models to occupy the £20k price bracket. Potentially the cheapest of all, is this, the Dacia Spring. While pricing for a UK-spec car hasn’t been confirmed, it’s possible it could even dip below £20,000.

cheapest electric carsTop 10 cheapest electric cars 2024

The Spring is a 3.7-metre-long city car, sitting between the Fiat 500 Electric and MINI Electric in terms of size. Given its size and budget billing, its diminutive 27kWh battery shouldn’t be such a big stumbling block for buyers, and its range of around 140 miles also isn’t too bad. Another advantage of its relatively small battery is that even a home wallbox can fully charge it in just five hours. While it hasn’t been confirmed yet, it’s also likely that UK cars will come with some level of DC fast charging.

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Given its position below the aforementioned rivals from Fiat and MINI in terms of price, the Dacia Spring isn’t likely to have too many direct competitors when it arrives in 2024. The Citroen Ami is even cheaper, but it’s classed as a quadricycle with a top speed of just 28mph. In contrast, the BYD Dolphin is larger, with a bigger battery and a higher price tag as a result. Instead, the Spring is likely to find itself on the shopping lists of buyers looking at used EVs like the Peugeot e-208 and Renault ZOE which are a few years old, but may well offer more features and a better range between charges.

We also don’t know the precise trim levels and specifications of Dacia’s first EV model yet, because while it’s already on sale in some markets, the version coming to the UK is likely to get quite a few changes. The European version is offered in ‘45’ and ‘65’ power versions, and we’ve tried the more powerful ‘65’ Spring thus far.

Trim levels

Power options

  • TBC
  • Single motor 45 (44bhp)
  • Single motor 65 (64bhp)

Dacia Spring alternatives

Range, charging & running costs

“Low weight helps the Dacia Spring achieve a 140-mile range, even though its battery is on the small side”

European buyers can buy the Dacia Spring with two power levels, but both come with the same 27kWh battery pack. This gives both cars a range of up to 190 miles if you stick to urban driving, where the Spring is likely to spend most of its time.

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But, measured to official WLTP standards, the range figure is 143 miles for the Spring 45 and 137 miles for the Spring 65 we’ve driven – figures that actually beat the pricey Honda e, and just behind the 145-mile range of the MINI Electric. Thanks to the fact the Spring weighs less than one tonne, it’s also pretty efficient, and we found it easy to manage 4 miles/kWh during testing. The only caveat being that progress is rather sedate if you try to eek out the car’s maximum range. 

A small battery also pays dividends when it comes to charging. A standard 7kW home wallbox should be able to fully charge the Spring in around five hours, and even plugging into a three-pin plug socket is likely to fill the battery if left overnight. While we’re not sure what we’ll get in the UK yet, it’s possible to add 30kW DC charging to the European Spring for around £600. With this option box ticked, a 10-80% charge is possible in less than an hour at a public charging station.

Model 

Battery size

Range

Dacia Spring 45

27kWh

143 miles

Dacia Spring 65

27kWh

137 miles

Insurance

While the Spring is too far from its UK debut to have official insurance figures, we’d hope they’d be just as affordable as the rest of the car, and somewhat lower than the group 17 of the Fiat 500 Electric.

Electric motor, drive & performance

“It might be at its best in the city, but there’s just enough power and speed to venture onto faster roads as well”

It might have less power than most petrol superminis, but one important thing to remember is that the Spring’s instant torque and single forward gear mean it’s a doddle to drive around town, and it can keep up with traffic pretty easily.

0-62mph and top speed

The Spring might not be a speed machine, but according to Dacia’s research, it really doesn’t need to be. It’s found that existing Spring owners tend to drive around 20 miles per day at an average speed of just 16mph. Given this fact, the 13.7-second 0-62mph acceleration figure of the more powerful 64bhp version we’ve tested doesn’t seem so important. 

Its 78mph top speed is important, though, because it makes for an important distinction between the Spring and cheap EVs like the Citroen Ami that are technically classed as quadricycles. The latter class of EVs are limited to just 28mph, virtually restricting their usage to congested city centres. No such issue with the Spring; while it’s better suited to town use, there’s nothing to stop you from venturing onto a motorway when necessary.

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Higher speeds do expose a weakness of the Spring, though, which is its lack of refinement. Sound deadening has clearly been cut back to save weight and cost, and you’ll need to speak with a loud voice to be heard by your passenger at 60mph.

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

Dacia Spring 45

44bhp

19.1s

78mph

Dacia Spring 65

64bhp

13.7s

78mph

Interior & comfort

“Cost-cutting is pretty evident inside the Spring, but it’s less of a big deal for short hops across town”

If refinement is one area that’s lacking as a result of the Spring’s budget price, its interior quality is another. Hard, scratchy plastics and a rubber steering wheel are likely to bring back memories of cars from a few decades ago, and there’s no adjustment for the steering wheel, leading to a somewhat compromised driving position.

Infotainment and navigation

While it might be basic in its interior appointments, that’s not to say the Spring is completely lacking in technology. While the UK car’s specs remain a mystery for now, the top-spec European Spring we tried was fitted with a modern touchscreen infotainment setup providing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This means you should get to enjoy some of your favourite smartphone-style apps and navigation, even in the cheapest EV the UK is likely to see.

Practicality & boot space

“With a shorter overall length than the MINI Electric, the Spring has a surprisingly decent boot but cramped rear seats”

It might be shorter than a MINI Electric, but Dacia is big on practicality, so the Spring packs in five doors and a surprisingly generous boot. It’s not perfect, though, because those back doors aren’t especially wide-opening and there’s not lots of back seat space for adults. Both head and leg room are pretty tight, so only small adults and kids will be happy in the back. There are ISOFIX child seat mounting points, but we also suspect bulkier child seats could be a tight squeeze.

Size comparison

Model 

Length

Width

Height

Dacia Spring hatchback

3,734mm

1,579mm

1,516mm

Fiat 500 Electric hatchback

3,632mm

1,683mm

1,527mm

MINI Electric hatchback

3,845mm

1,727mm

1,432mm

BYD Dolphin hatchback

4,209mm

1,770mm

1,570mm

Boot space

Given this, its 290 litres of boot space may come as something of a surprise, and you can pack quite a bit into the Spring’s luggage compartment. Again, there are a few compromises, like the high lip to load items over and the lack of a dedicated space to store charging cables if you need to take them with you.

Boot space comparison

Model 

Boot space

Dacia Spring hatchback

290 litres

Fiat 500 Electric hatchback

185 litres

MINI Electric hatchback

211 litres

BYD Dolphin hatchback

345 litres

Reliability & safety

The Dacia Spring’s simple design should make it reliable, but a poor safety score will be concerning for potential buyers”

Considering the Spring has never been sold in the UK, it’s no surprise there’s no reliability data available just yet. But, given the car's simplicity and relative lack of mechanical parts compared with a combustion-engined supermini, we’d hope any issues would be relatively easy to fix. 

Dacia itself didn’t perform too strongly in our 2023 Driver Power satisfaction survey, coming 26th out of the 32 manufacturers included. Around a quarter of owners of its petrol and diesel models told us they’d experienced a fault within the first year, and marked down handling, exterior styling and quality. Owners were more impressed with low running costs and value, where the maker came top.

Safety

Perhaps the biggest concern for potential Spring owners will be safety because unless the UK car features an improvement here, the version already crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2021 achieved just one out of five stars. This included a 49% score for adult occupant protection, 56% for child occupant protection, 39% for vulnerable road users and 32% in safety assist testing.

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Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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