Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2

Should you buy a Dacia Sandero?

Do you want a brand-new car? Then, yes.

At least if you want it to cost as little as possible and be versatile enough to meet most family needs without compromise or fuss. The Sandero is rugged enough to shrug off Britain's neglected roads and cramped parking, without worrying about your expensive car being car-park dented or getting all mucky doing tip runs and taking the kids to the beach.

The Dacia Sandero really is everything you need, but it's also evolving to be the kind of car you'd want; it has an appeal beyond merely being cheap.

In Essential or Comfort form it isn't a stripped out exercise in merely getting from A to B. It's rather pleasant to drive, solidly-built and subjectively, good to look at inside and out.

Of course, you may feel a more expensive brand sends out better messages about you to the rest of the world, but the Sandero does not cut back on engineering quality or essential technology - it's merely less gadget-laden and rather more fit for purpose in terms of trim.

All models of Sandero are spacious, with plenty of room for shopping or luggage as well as four adults. The TCe three-cylinder turbo engines are eager and make a pleasant noise even when working hard, and the interior is put together well with an absence of squeaks and rattles that more expensive marques often fail to achieve. Even the infotainment set-up and smartphone integration options are well thought out.

Fixed-price up-front servicing deals make it easier to budget, and the three-year warranty with good dealer backup should make a Sandero a painless experience compared with a second hand car.

Which do we recommend?

If your budget can stretch to it, we would suggest the 100 TCe Comfort. It is the most expensive Sandero, but it's usefully cheaper than other superminis and is well-enough equipped to be convenient to use every day.

If you really don't want to spend that much the 100 TCe Essential covers most of the basics you'll need, lets your smartphone do the job of an infotainment screen, and still has the benefits of the Bi-fuel LPG system.

Drop to a 90 TCe and you're only saving £400, but lose that impressive 800-mile range, cheaper LPG fuel and we expect, stronger resale values.

The only Sandero we've yet to make a call on is the CVT auto. It's the most expensive, and rivals may have been offerings. We'll update this after we've had the opportinity to try one.

For a fleet of hard-working small cars the Access is impossible to argue against in terms of value for money, but the SCe 65 engine is slow, won't offer the same real-world economy, and has few comforts. Even so, none of the safety equipment has been left out and the build quality should be the same across all models.

And overall?

In all honesty, for driving in Britain this is all you need 95% of the time. When previous generations of Sandero were clearly a lower-quality product than the competition, the new Sandero gives nothing away in fit, finish or engineering.

However, you may find yourself hesitating because of the badge or the Euro NCAP score. The former is entirely up to you; if it's worth thousands to impress the neighbours then that's your decision; the latter is not as clear cut as it might seem.

Because Euro NCAP scores are given for a specific year, and the tests have become more sophisticated, involved more technology and higher benchmarks for crash survivability with each revision, a car that was new and tested in 2016 could still have a five-star rating - and higher percentages for protection - than a car tested in 2021. Which means older rivals may look better, but actually offer similar or worse crash protection.

We have looked through the test notes and there's nothing to suggest the Sandero is less safe than rivals, so we don't consider the low Euro NCAP rating a reason to choose an alternative car unless you are spending more for more driver assistance or convenience features.

If you do want more gadgets, the Stepway is available in 'Prestige' specification - adding alloy wheels, digtial climate control, wireless smartphone connection (possibly the most inexpensive car to offer Apple CarPlay over WiFi yet) and blind spot monitoring - plus a trendy rugged 'off-road' look.

Further reading