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Dacia Sandero In-Depth Review 2022 – Is the UK’s Cheapest New Car Any Good?

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Wouldn’t it be good if the Dacia Sandero could feel properly modern as well as being properly cheap. Well, we’re promised that this MK3 version is. Really modern that is. It still pretty cheap too – still the cheapest family car you could choose – but at the same time as being a far better quality hatch in this rejuvenated third generation form. If you’re just about to buy a mainstream brand city car, supermini or family hatch, you need to stop right here and keep watching…

TIMESTAMPS
00:00​​​​ Introduction
00:37 Background
03:00 Driving Experience
09:53 Design & Build
23:45 Market & Model Range
32:44 Cost of Ownership
40:20 Summary

Background

From Renault’s point of view, it was a great concept. Buy a struggling Romanian car brand using factories with cheap labour. Then take a last-generation Renault hatch design, freshen it up with modern styling and a different badge and sell it at the kind of super-cheap prices that all of these short-cuts could facilitate. So was born the Dacia Sandero in 2013, which was then – and still is now – by some margin Britain’s most affordable compact family hatch. With the original version, lightly freshened in 2017, you very much got what you didn’t pay for, but loyal owners didn’t care.

Some of us though, wondered whether this car’s sales prospects wouldn’t be considerably improved if just a fraction of that affordability could be sacrificed in favour of creating more modern, efficient engineering. In a cabin that didn’t feel quite so much like a Bulgarian thrift store. The rather more palatable product we were picturing has arrived. And this is it, the rejuvenated MK3 model.

Driving Experience

Owners of the original Sandero model didn’t care too much about drive dynamics – which is just as well because they weren’t up to much. This MK3 model’s stiffer, more sophisticated CMF-B platform means it can deliver a little bit more – and there are some better engines too. The entry-level unit might feel a little feeble though – it’s a 1.0-litre three cylinder powerplant producing just 64bhp, badged ‘SCe 65’ and mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The Sandero’s low pricing though, should mean that you can at least stretch to the powerplant we’d recommend, the 89bhp three cylinder turbo petrol TCe 90 unit, which is available across most trim levels and can be had with either 6-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic gearbox.

Dacia isn’t bothering with a diesel this time round, but if you’re looking for something super-frugal, you can have the TCe 100 petrol unit in LPG form, with a dual fuel tank situated where the spare wheel would normally sit. With both the petrol and the LPG tanks filled, you’d have a range in this eco-variant of over 800 miles. Dacia promises that all Sanderos will be easier to use around town too, thanks to the fact that the steering is now electrically (rather than hydraulically) assisted and apparently needs up to 36% less effort to turn at low speeds.

Design and Build

Smart looks and an old nail of a platform wouldn’t have sufficed for this MK3 model. We’ve had that with the Sandero before. But that’s not what’s being served up this time round, the fourth generation version of this car riding on the same CMF-B platform as a far pricier (and smaller) Renault Clio. As before, there are two versions of the single 5-door hatch body shape, the standard model and the high riding crossover-inspired ‘Stepway’ version, which is slightly more differentiated this time round with flared wheel arches, 16-inch wheels, roof bars, plastic body cladding and body-coloured skid plates. Both Sandero variants are a touch bigger than before, noticeably wider (1,848mm without mirrors) and 19mm longer. The look’s less anonymous too, thanks to a Y-shaped LED front lighting signature.

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Dacia Sandero In-Depth Review 2022 – Is the UK’s Cheapest New Car Any Good?
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