All-new Dacia Sandero, Stepway (and Logan) for 2021

  • Dacia's core range is given new looks, new platform and new tech
  • Does this mark the end of austerity for the bargain-basement marque?
  • Sandero and Stepway offered in UK, Europe's Logan suggests fresh estate too

The Dacia Sandero is arguably one of the most straighforward, sensible cars you can buy today, and though well-equipped models are on offer, the range shares a core no-nonsense rugged approach that shrugs off family life for the lowest costs possible. However, it's not what you'd call aspirational for many buyers in Europe and the UK, and the seven-year old design is getting on a bit.

Dacia agrees. In February 2021, the spartan Sandero and rugged Stepway will be replaced, and the new Sandero is a very different class and style of car. Here's what Britain's budget buyers can expect from the Romanian marque.

2021 Dacia Sandero

Core to the new range from Dacia, the platform is all-new for the Sandero - a derivative of parent company Renault's CMF-B system that also underpins the new Clio and Kadjar, it offers the latest safety technology and benefits from Renault's continued investment in economy, refinement and crash test performance.

2021 Dacia Sandero

Although a predictable path, as the Sandero was based on previous generations of Renault platform too, it's a significant leap forward technically giving Dacia the same 'era' of tech as Renault, rather than a previous generation with small changes.

It means Dacia buyers are getting the same core values as the more expensive marque, albeit with some changes in technlogy and trim to maintain that difference in cost and value.

Going upmarket: Dacia trades Access for aspiration

Where the current Sandero was defined by the appliance-white, black-bumpered Access, the 2021 Sandero features touches like rear LED signature lighting, soft-touch materials on the dashboard, MediaNav infotainment with a clever integrated phone holder, and a modern dashboard architecture that looks straight out of the latest SUV rather than something suited to a light commercial vehicle.

Dacia Sandero Stepway dash sketch

Although exact details are yet to be confirmed, Dacia will offer three trim grades, with option packs; it seems unlikely that unpainted bumpers will be a feature, and the biggest indicator of how those packs will be divided can be found in the in-car entertainment.

At the entry level, Media Control offers a bluetooth radio solution - a step up from a 'place to put a radio and speakers'. As well as a cradle to hold your smartphone while paried, it has two speakers and uses the 3.5-linch display in the main instrument panel. Hardware controls on the steering wheel are mapped to control the phone as well, for safety.

Media Display introduces an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and four speakers.

Finally Media Nav, the touchscreen infotainment is upgraded with six speakers and navigation built-in.

That's not all that marks the upmarket move from the Sandero. Optional equipment, potentially destined for higher trim levels or option packs in the UK, includes digital climate control, cruise control, speed limiter and hands-free keycard access and starting. Heated seats and a glass tilt-slide sunroof are among the firsts for Dacia offered on the 2021 Sandero, and all models get automatic headlights.

What's powering the new Sandero?

Although Dacia has indicated an intent to offer a battery electric vehicle - the Spring - the engine range in the new Sandero is utterly conventional, to the extent that it's been confirmed that the hybrid system offered in similar Renaults won't be an option. Where Dacia wants to reduce running costs and emissions, you'll find LPG is a core part of the Sandero strategy.

There's a selection of three three-cylinder, 1.0-litre engines:

>> SCe 65, which isn't available on the Stepway. Without a turbocharger, and offered with a five-speed manual gearbox only.

>> SCe 90. Turbocharged, and offered with either a six-speed manual gearbox, or a CVT automatic gearbox.

>> SCe 100 Eco-G. The most powerful Sandero engine is also likely to be the least expensive to run, as Eco-G is Dacia's new Bi-Fuel - LPG or petrol - technology. It will only be offered with a manual six-speed gearbox.

How much has been changed in the Sandero's body?

All of it! Because it's moving to a new platform there's no old Sandero here - the suspension is new, the wheelbase is longer for greater comfort, the way the body is assembled is new, improving crash performance and refinement. New LED lights (standard on all models) mark a mature look that's more purposeful than before, and arguably has a cleaner style than the similarly-sized Clio.

Dacia Sandero 2021 design sketch

Fabric-wrapped dashboard elements, new seats, electric power steering and details such as an electric boot release all point to the Sandero's growth into a highly competitive 4,088mm-long five-seater supermini without the caveat of budget.

Boot space for the Sandero comes in at a highly competitive 328 litres, and rear passenger space has been increased with an additional 42mm of legroom. Drivers get a height-adjustable seat with a wider range of adjustments for seat and wheel than before, improving both comfort and safety.

What about the Sandero Stepway?

Always tempting, the Sandero Stepway offers more ground clearance (174mm), extra body cladding and a general off-road attitude that slots neatly below the Duster as a 'lifestyle' choice.

Dacia Sandero Stepway Sketch

Much of the Stepway is the same as the Sandero it's based on, but there are some new features. Alongside a more adventurous approach to interior design, giving the Stepway a special feel through the use of orange accents, there's a clever modular roof rack system. Using a key to unlock the mechanism, you can rotate the standard roof rails by 90 degrees to form an 80kg capacity roof rack.

Dacia Sandero Stepway profile

Body-colour skid plates and unique alloy wheels or trims complete the Stepways transformation into a vehicle that, frankly, can probably handle most of the terrain you'd consider an SUV for in the UK.

What's this about a Logan?

In markets where four-door saloon cars are popular, the Sandero's booted sibling has been updated in line with the rest of the range. Britain won't get the Logan - which can carry 528 litres in the box on the back - but it points the way to a refreshed Logan MCV estate in the not-too-distant future.

It looks like this, if you're curious.

Dacia Logan Saloon for sale in Europe in 2021

Anything else to report?

Driver assistance and safety technology on both Sandero and Stepway has been upgraded, with emergency brake assist, blind-spot monitoring, brake assist, park assist and hill-start assist all added to the features list. What is optional for UK buyers has yet to be confirmed.

What this means for you?

Since prices haven't been announced, but we now know there's a new Sandero and Stepway on the way, now's the time to go after a Sandero if you want to pick up a bargain, particularly if you're looking at the more affordable specifications in the first place.

Conversely, if you're eager to get the very latest and best, and were about to order a high-spec Stepway - wait! The new Sandero and Stepway promise much more involving driving, greater refinement and objectively, sharper, more contemporary looks inside and out.

Dacia Sandero Stepway 2021

If you live somewhere that it's easy to get LPG, give the Eco-G model serious consideration too. You're still burning fuel, but LPG emissions are cleaner than petrol or diesel.

Dacia Sandero rear 2021

Further reading

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