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What is the Dacia Sandero?

The Dacia Sandero has for some time been the cheapest new car on sale in the UK, winning extra brownie points for those wanting a box-fresh model on their driveway on the cheap. It’s a decent size, too - more akin to full superminis such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, rather than the smaller city cars from the segment below. It’s great value.

It’s built in Romania and uses a lot of last-generation Renault group technology, which is how they can bring the prices down so much. It’s surprisingly practical, with a decent boot and a pleasing lack of pretension.

Read on for our full guide to the Dacia Sandero range - to find out if it should be on your shopping list.

At-a-glance 2019 Dacia Sandero specs

  • Top speed: 98-109mph
  • 0-62mph: 11.1-15.2sec
  • Fuel economy: 52.3-80.7mpg
  • Emissions: 90-124g/km
  • Boot space: 320-1200 litres

Which versions of the Dacia Sandero are available?

The Dacia Sandero has been around in one form or another since 2013 and is a winningly simple proposition. There are some familiar, old-tech Renault engines powering it and it makes for a simple range line-up. Choose from a pair of petrols - the SCe 75 and TCe 90 - or one diesel, the Blue dCi 95 that’s only available on higher models.

There is no hybrid or electric model available, and nor do we expect to see any any time soon; this is all about low-cost motoring with simple engineering - it’s more dusted-down hand-me-downs from elsewhere in the Renault group empire than cutting-edge electro-mobility.

In terms of specs, choose from Access, Essential or Comfort trim levels. The most basic model is very stripped-out, with 15-inch steel wheels and few mod cons. Trade up to Essential for manual air-con, a radio and body coloured bumpers, while the range-topping Comfort model adds niceties such as rear parking sensors, a touchscreen sat-nav and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.

What is the Dacia Sandero Stepway?

The Sandero Stepway is a regular hatchback that’s popped down the local outdoors centre for some light off-road accessories. So you get a slightly raised ride height for a 40mm lift to the loft, plus some styling mods that are designed to evoke tougher 4x4s.

Dacia Sandero Stepway

It’s not really a full crossover, but it’s a diminutive-yet-chunky compact SUV-lite - designed to compete with the likes of the Ford Fiesta Active, Kia Picanto X-Line and Vauxhall Viva Rocks.

We reckon the Dacia Sandero is best served simple and cheap, but if you really want a raised driving position on the cheap, there’s plenty to recommend the Stepway edition.

Dacia Sandero styling and engineering

The Dacia won’t exactly win any design prizes for a glitzy wardrobe but it’s a simple, back-to-basics aesthetic that’s entirely in keeping with our austere age.

The engineering underneath is largely straightforward and simple to boot. No fancy four-wheel drive is offered, just simple front-wheel drive here (step up to a Dacia Duster if you want four-wheel drive). In fact, it’s so pared-back that there’s not even a handle on the rear tailgate (you have to use the key to open it, annoyingly).

Don’t forget that simple, set-square boxy style is good for accommodation. This is a surprisingly roomy small car and you can pack a lot of bodies and bags into a Dacia Sandero if you need a roomy vehicle on a budget.

Is the Dacia Sandero good to drive?

The fundamentals of the Sandero package are spot-on: this is no-nonsense budget transport and the cheapest Dacia comes with its own charms.

Dacia Sandero driving

It’s certainly no-frills and your attitude to manual windows, a lack of touchscreens and a general return to the 1970s of motoring will dictate your reaction to driving the Dacia Sandero. You can trade up to one of the higher specs if you want a few mod-cons, but that’s rather missing the point.

How much does the Dacia Sandero cost?

The Dacia Sandero is already the cheapest new car on sale today, so you’ll do well to find any more money chipped off. But it’s always worth looking around to find a deal - and you can always consider leasing as a pain-free way to own a Dacia.

Rest assured: there are few cheaper ways to do modern motoring than owning a Dacia Sandero.

Check out what real-world drivers of the Dacia Sandero have to say about their bargain basements in our user-generated owners’ reviews.

Dacia Sandero Model History

Current generation Dacia Sandero Hatchback model history

October 2012 – Available to order online, first deliveries begin in January 2013 with a range comprising of Access, Ambiance and Laureate specifications. There’s a 1.2 16V 75 and TCe 90 petrol-engine choice, with the diesel dCi 90 motor as the alternative.
September 2014 – Based on the Laureate, the Midnight limited edition is available with the TCe 90 and dCi 90 engines. Special features include Slate Grey metallic paint, 15-inch Aquila alloys, gloss black detailing and electric rear windows.
March 2015 – Flagship special edition Laureate Prime introduced with a choice of the TCe 90 and dCi 90 engines. Distinguishing features include Cosmos Blue metallic paint with matching seatbelts, dark grey-painted alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel and an upgraded multimedia unit.
April 2016 – Limited Edition Ambiance Prime models introduced with all three engine permutations. Additional features include front foglights, alloy wheels and Chestnut metallic paint.
December 2016 – Facelifted range available to order, with new front grille, head- and tail lamps and the SCe 75 petrol engine in place of the previous 1.2 16V 75 unit.
July 2017 – Laureate specification now available with the SCe 75 engine. Ambiance models get a height-adjustable steering wheel and driver’s seat as standard.

This is the first generation of Dacia Sandero sold in the UK – the Mk1 version wasn’t offered here – so there’s little history to rake over. Apart from the odd new engine and some range rejigging, there is little complication to report on the range.