Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0
  • Just three power units to select
  • Petrol, petrol, or diesel – no EV or hybrid on offer here
  • Turbocharged 0.9 TCe our pick of the range

The Dacia Sandero Stepway engine range is easy to digest – there’s only three to choose from. The basic motor is a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder affair that does without a turbocharger. It produces a meagre 75hp and 95Nm of torque, resulting in a 0-62mph sprint of a lethargic 15.2 seconds.

This means you’ll need to be very generous with the revs to make any meaningful progress, spoiling both the car’s refinement – which is already not a strong point – and fuel economy in the process. We’d therefore recommend avoiding this base powerplant.

Instead, opt for the 90hp turbocharged petrol. It offers up more power and torque from a marginally smaller engine – just 0.9 litres – but is eminently more drivable. It’s much more relaxed on the motorway and a big improvement when trying to move a fully loaded car about.

It’s not perfect though, and it’s far from the best of this breed of small turbo petrol engines. It’s rather peaky – meaning the power comes in lumps and spurts rather than smoothly, so it’s difficult to drive in a relaxed fashion.

In fact, the most relaxed engine by far is the 1.5-litre diesel, which offers up its power over a decent spread of revs and has plenty of low-down shove – perfect if you’re using the Sandero Stepway’s spacious interior to its best. The problem? It’s also the most expensive engine – by a considerable margin.

The diesel produces 95hp and lots of torque. Before 2019, it had 90hp.

Handling

  • Don’t expect too much from the Sandero Stepway
  • It’s competent and safe but not much else
  • Tends to struggle in faster corners

As with its conventional hatchback sibling, the Dacia Sandero Stepway lacks any sort of sparkle about the way it drives.

Normally small cars are intrinsically fun, but the Dacia seems to have been sapped of its joie de vivre, which is disappointing. Still, it remains nimble to drive, especially useful in urban environments.

Although it sits 40mm higher than the regular Sandero hatch, the Stepway doesn’t suffer from an exacerbated degree of body roll when cornering with vigour.

So, what of its off-road capabilities? Well, self-evidently, it’s not a proper SUV and it remains exclusively front-wheel drive, with no traction-enhancing electronic trickery as you’ll discover in something like a Citroen C3 Aircross or Peugeot 2008.

But, that extra inch-and-a-half of ground clearance may make some difference if you have to venture down rutted tracks with any great frequency. Forget about scaling anything slippery or mountainous, though.