Dacia Sandero

The Essentials

  • Price from £5,995
  • What Car? says: 4 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 74.3mpg
  • What is it? The Dacia Sandero is a likeable, spacious and incredibly cheap hatchback

Great

  • The Dacia Sandero offers outstanding value for money
  • It's practical, spacious and decent enough to drive
  • The engines are strong and the dash is easy to use

Gripes

  • Safety provision is pretty poor, with no rear airbags
  • It's noisy and the low-speed ride is a bit bumpy
  • The interior feels decidedly cheap
  • Drive

    Reasonable enough given the price, but not very sophisticated, and noisy too

  • Inside

    Cheap materials and lack of adjustment for driving position, but dash is easy to use

  • Safety

    No rear airbags and only four stars in Euro NCAP crash tests

  • Reliability

    Acceptable if underwhelming

  • Space

    Roomy and practical

  • Standard and extras

    Fine other than in the entry-level trim

  • What's it like to drive?

    Despite the Sandero's incredibly low price, it's actually not too bad to drive. Choose the 1.2 petrol engine in Stepway trim (which has slightly softer suspension), and the Sandero has enough pace for most everyday situations and feels fairly comfortable to ride in. Even in other trims the Sandero isn't uncomfortable. You can also choose from a turbocharged 0.9-litre petrol which is punchy but not particularly smooth, or a fairly quick 1.6 diesel. However in all versions the cabin is noisy and the gearshift notchy.

  • What's it like inside?

    The interior is dominated by cheap, unappealing plastics, but it feels solid and durable. The dashboard is a sparse, simple affair, but this also makes it easy to use, and the huge windows give a great view out. However, only the range-topping car has any degree of height adjustment for the driver's seat and steering wheel, so some people will find it tricky to get comfortable. The Sandero's square body shape means it feels spacious inside, and two adults will be able to sit very comfortably in the back. The rear seats don't fold completely flat but they drop easily and the boot is among the biggest in the class, although it does have a high lip to load luggage over. Entry-level cars have barely any added equipment, not even central locking or a radio. Go for mid-spec Ambiente which includes remote locking, electric front windows and Bluetooth at a reasonable price. Laureate trims adds air-con, electric rear windows and cruise control, but costs a lot more. The Stepway model can make careful forays off-road, thanks to increased ground clearance and a protective cover for the car's undercarriage, but its adventures will be limited by its lack of four-wheel drive. It does come with roof rails, however, and slightly chunkier looks.

  • How reliable is it?

    Dacia is a budget brand owned by Renault, which means it uses many proven Renault parts so reliability should be decent. All models get four airbags up front, plus anti-lock braking and traction control, but there are no airbags in the rear and no top-tether points to go with the Isofix fittings on the two outer rear seats. In crash tests by Euro NCAP, the Sandero scored four out of the maximum five stars, with 80% for adult safety and 79% for children, which is some way off the score by the Ford Fiesta, which achieved five stars with 91% for adults and 86% for children.

  • Should I buy one?

    For anyone who wants a new, spacious hatchback simply to get from A to B in some degree of comfort, the Sandero can be extraordinarily good value for money. As well as costing thousands of pounds less than any similar-sized car, insurance costs are low and so is fuel consumption - the 1.5 dCi achieves a claimed average economy of 74.3mpg, and even in What Car?'s True MPG tests it achieved a real-world return of 61.7mpg. However, there are compromises to make for the Sandero's low costs, particularly its lack of driver seat adjustment, limited driving pleasure and limited safety equipment.