£5,995 - £10,395 Price range
48 - 80 MPG
Prices start from £5,995 and if you buy your new Sandero using carwow, you can save £100 on average.
The interior of the Sandero isn’t the last word in style, but has a tried and tested lay-out that is easy to navigate and the materials used can sustain years of abuse, even if some are cheap to the touch. Passenger space is impressive for a car of this size and the boot is almost the biggest in class.
“Decent” perfectly describes the way the Sandero drives – it has enough grip most of the time, the steering feel is good thanks to the old-school power steering and it rides nicely on broken surfaces. It’s not as engaging as a Fiesta or as comfortable as a VW Polo, but is nevertheless a perfectly acceptable way to get from A to B.
The 1.5-litre diesel offers impressive fuel economy, but its higher price needs to be justified by lots of motorway miles. If you plan on driving the Sandero mostly in the city then the 0.9-litre petrol is the better option – it is cheaper to buy, sounds nicer and moves the Sandero with reasonable speed. The 1.2-litre petrol is the cheapest to buy, but lags behind the other engine choices for running costs and performance.
From the three equipment levels the mid-spec Ambiance has the best blend of standard equipment and asking price. The basic Access is truly basic, with no remote central locking or air-con, while the top-of-the-range Laureate adds nice touches such as metallic paint and alloy wheels. Dacia has introduced a new model to the Sandero range called the ‘Ambience Prime’. It comes with a selection of new features and equipment as standard.
Cheapest to buy: 1.2-litre Access petrol
Cheapest to run: 1.5-litre Laureate diesel
Fastest model: 0.9-litre Laureate petrol
Most popular: 1.5-litre Ambiance diesel
Taking into account that the Sandero is one of UK’s cheapest new cars, the interior exceeds the low expectations imposed by the price. It doesn’t have an infotainment system with internet access and touch-sensitive heating controls, but it’s very easy to operate and feels robust.
Dacia Sandero passenger space
The Sandero is very spacious for such a small car and two adults should find decent space in the rear seats. However, the driver might struggle to find a comfortable position, because only the top-of-the-range model offers a decent range of adjustability and enough support for longer journeys.
Dacia Sandero boot space
Where the Sandero really shines is its practicality – it’s 320-litre boot is not only bigger than the Ford Fiesta’s (276 litres) or Vauxhall Corsa’s (285 litres), but also edges the Ford Focus’s (316 litres) which is one class larger. The only supermini with a bigger boot than the Sandero is the Hyundai i20 with its 326 litres of space.
Reviewers say that the Sandero feels quite old-school French in the way it drives, riding nicely but not exactly matching a Ford Fiesta in terms of dynamics. Grip levels are described as “decent” while some testers even found the steering to offer some feel – perhaps as a result of its old school hydraulic assistance, rather than electrical systems found in most modern cars. For many, though, the pseudo-off road Stepway model, with more ground clearance and a better ride, is the better-driving car.
Three engines are available in the Sandero: a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol, a three-cylinder turbocharged 0.9-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre turbodiesel.
Dacia Sandero petrol engines
The 1.2-litre petrol is the sole engine available in the most basic, Access models, which many feel as a shame – the Access trim has the pricing appeal, but the 1.2 is a pretty average unit. The 14.3 seconds it takes from 0-62mph is quite slow, but somehow the car feels even slower. The claimed fuel economy of 48.7mpg is decent but the 135g/km of CO2, resulting in a £130 annual road tax bill, isn’t.
Better is the nice-sounding 0.9 TCe, which improves on performance and refinement. It not only shaves three seconds of the 0-62mph time, but also feels much faster when overtaking thanks to its turbo. It’s the engine we’d go for as it suits best the character of the car. It is also cleaner and more economical than the 1.2-litre – it can do 56.5mpg and the 116g/km of emissions mean it will cost £30 a year in road tax.
Dacia Sandero diesel engines
Topping the range, the diesel achieves fuel economy of 74.3 mpg, and a road-tax-exempt 99g/km of CO2. It’s the priciest, so some may feel it defeats the purpose of such a cheap car and you’ll have to cover a lot of miles to recoup its cost.
Reviews of the 0.9 TCe are mixed. Some feel that it’s usefully quieter, smoother and more economical than the cheaper 1.2 petrol, while others suggest it still vibrates a little too much - one driver saying it sends vibrations through the body and into the cabin. Most agree it feels nicely torquey at low revs, and that the five-speed manual gearbox is well-matched to the engine.
A few even enjoy the “off-beat growl” audible at higher revs - a frequent observation of three-cylinder engines.
Reviews are few and far between, but one suggests that the 1.2 feels “a touch overwhelmed” by its job, and isn’t the most quiet car while it accelerates. Thankfully, cruising is quieter, and the tester notes an easy gearchange to help you make the most of the engine. Since you won’t be driving for performance, you may be more impressed by its reasonable 48.7mpg combined economy figure.
Unless you want to spend as little as possible at purchase, the 0.9 TCe is probably the better engine.
The diesel delivers 89 bhp and enough oomph to drag you to 62mph in under 12 seconds. It’s also smooth and torquey according to testers, and described as “perfect for making unruffled progress around town or if you want to stretch its legs on the motorway”.
Most of the time it’ll be fairly quiet, only getting noisy above 3,500rpm. You pay extra for the privilege, but the 1.5 DCi is as good in the Sandero as it is anywhere else.
Experts at Euro NCAP have determined the Sandero is structurally sound in the event of a crash. They note that, unlike its more expensive rivals, it doesn’t come with many of the safety advances that cost extra in other models and, as a result, only received a four-star maximum safety rating instead of the full five.
You do get anti-lock brakes, Isofix child-seat mountings, seatbelt warnings and stability control as standard. These should be more than enough in most situations to keep you safe on the road and, if you’re looking to save money, you won’t get better elsewhere. Active safety on rivals usually costs extra.
If you’re prepared to sacrifice on equipment levels, the Sandero is excellent value. Some testers note that a decent used car can be had for the same money as many Sandero models, but the appeal of a brand new car and full dealer warranty can’t be underplayed.
The 1.2-litre Access is cheap as chips but has virtually no equipment to speak of – wind-up windows, and no stereo. The top of the range Laureate comes with decent kit such as cruise control, air-conditioning and alloy wheels, but the mid-level Ambiance model is in our opinion the best one for the Sandero.
Dacia Sandero Ambiance
The middle-of-the-line Ambiance trim gets all the equipment you need in a small city car – electric front windows, remote central locking, stereo with USB, MP3 and Bluetooth capabilities as well as better interior trim than the basic car.
Dacia’s options aren’t too pricey though, so some owners may feel better about speccing-up their cars. For £300 extra you can get a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system that has a lot of features and is easy to use.
Dacia Sandero Ambience Prime
The Sandero Ambience Prime comes with exclusive Chestnut metallic paintwork, 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, emergency brake assist and traction control as standard. This model is priced between £7,295 and £9,095 depending on which engine you choose.
The Dacia Sandero scores highly in several tests, mainly thanks to just how much car you get for such little outlay – though many reviewers also agree that there are better cars out there, particularly if you’re willing to buy used.
If equipment doesn’t bother you and you just run around town, the poverty-spec Access could be adequate.
Our advice, don’t be fooled by the headline grabbing low price, see what rivals are available for just a little more money.