Review: Dacia Sandero (2013)


Was originally excellent value for money starting at £5,995, especially compared to Clio with the same engines. 1.5 dCi and 0.9 TCe available.

2018 prices start at £7,000 for basic Access model, lacking radio and spare wheel.

Dacia Sandero (2013): At A Glance

The Dacia Sandero offers a refreshing change to other ‘value’ alternatives, with prices starting from less than £6,000, even years after the initial launch in 2013. It's quite a lot more practical than similarly priced cars like the Citroen C1, plus it's cheap to run and easy to drive, making it a great choice for the budget-conscious.

Good value though it may be, It’s plain to see where costs have been cut. The materials in the cabin look dated and, if you want the basic £5995 model you’ll have to make do without air conditioning, electric windows, electric mirrors and even a radio. Really, then, you’ll want the £6995 Ambience model, but that’s still great value.

It comes with all of the essentials most drivers need, including air conditioning, electric front windows, DAB radio, Bluetooth, an AUX input and a USB socket. The standard 1.2-litre petrol engine is proven but old-fashioned – so we’d recommend spending a little more on the perky, smooth, economical and quiet TCe 90.

On the road there’s a fairly noticeable amount of road and wind noise, but the engines are surprisingly quiet and the controls are light, so the Sandero is easy to drive. Handling is fine through bends but there is a little bit of body roll and suspension thumps over potholes, though it's comfortable for the most part.

The area in which the Sandero stands out most is practicality. For the same sort of price as a Skoda Citigo you’ll get five doors, usefully spacious back seats and a decent, 320 litre boot capacity. That’s more than you’ll find in a pricier Vauxhall Corsa, and plenty for shopping trips.

It’s easy to forgive the Sandero’s shortcomings. Even if you skip the headline grabbing £5995 model and opt for something pricier it still represents excellent value for money, with all the features most drivers could ask for, plus low running costs and plenty of practical space. It’s a real bargain.  

Dacia Sandero 0.9 TCe 90 Road Test

Dacia Sandero 1.2 Access Long Term Test

What does a Dacia Sandero (2013) cost?

List Price from £6,995
Buy new from £6,748
Contract hire from £112.38 per month

Dacia Sandero (2013): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4058–4069 mm
Width 1944–1994 mm
Height 1518–1519 mm
Wheelbase 2560–2590 mm

Full specifications

It's clear to see where some costs have been cut with the Dacia Sandero, though to an extent this all adds to the no-frills honesty. Where other manufacturers spend millions to hide the bits they don't want you to see, Dacia doesn't, which contributes to the Sandero's cheap price. 

Inside, the plastics are hard and the layout is functional. Everything is clear and simple, but the switches don't have the same precision as they do in more expensive, but smaller, rivals like the Volkswagen Polo or Up, plus there are some very old-fashioned elements like manual door mirror adjustment. Paint in any colour other than white is optional, too, across all trim levels. 

On the plus side there is a decent amount of space. The rear seats are fine for children and even adults, though leg room can be tight with taller occupants up front. The boot, at 320 litres, is big for a car at this price and even beats pricier rivals like the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta. For shopping trips its fine, but if you need more space the rear seats fold, freeing up 1200 litres.

The basic Access model really is basic. Wind-up windows, no central locking and no rear head restraints are a reminder that you've gone for the bottom-of-the-range model - and there isn't even a stereo. But opt for the mid-spec Ambiente model and you'll get plenty of nice features including Bluetooth connectivity and air conditioning. 

Top models come with a touchscreen system and navigation with UK mapping, cruise control, a speed limiter and some little touches like chrome interior details and body coloured door handles. But it gets quite close to some excellent rivals like the Hyundai i10 when it comes to price and it goes without alloy wheels - so we would stick to the mid-grade Ambience. 

Standard Equipment (from January 2017):

Access is the basic trim level. It comes with black bumpers, manual windows, manual door mirrors, 60/40 split folding rear seats and pre-wiring for aftermarket radio and speakers. 

Ambiance is the mid-spec trim grade. It gains body-coloured bumpers, satin chrome and gloss black interior elements, rear head rests, remote central locking, air conditioning, electric front windows, a passenger vanity mirror, USB socket, Bluetooth connection, AUX socket and DAB Radio. 

Laureate trim gains alternative wheel trims, body-coloured door handles and door mirrors, chrome cabin detailing, leather gearknob, onboard computer with seven functions, cruise control, speed limiter, rear parking sensors, front fog lights, height adjustment for drivers seat and steering wheel, MediaNav touchscreen system with UK and Ireland navigation. 


Child seats that fit a Dacia Sandero (2013)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Dacia Sandero (2013) like to drive?

The basic 1.2-litre 16V petrol is familiar to anyone who's driven a Clio or Twingo - it's smooth and idles near silently. But to get the best performance from it, you'll have to rev it hard and that makes it sound quite coarse - and it'll limit fuel economy around town.

With a 0-62mph time of 14.5 seconds and a maximum speed of 102mph, it has more than enough performance to keep up with the flow, although once on the motorway, the short gearing means the driver is saddled with a buzzy 4000rpm cruise at 70mph. The good news is that light footed drivers should manage to get a Real MPG figure in line with official numbers.

Performance from the 900cc TCe petrol engine is ideal for those who do the majority of their driving around town, with a good amount of low-down torque. For the size of the car and engine, the 0-62mph time of 11.1 seconds and top speed of 109mph aren't bad at all and at lower speeds, it feels quicker than these figures suggest.

This engine really suits the character of the car and it feels equally at home on motorways, twisting roads and built up areas. It's a quiet engine and only makes a lot of noise at higher engine speeds - on the motorway the most audible noise is the wind whistling around the screen - but there is a little bit of tyre noise too. 

Another bonus for town driving is the light steering and, while the Sandero will roll in corners if it's pushed, it does have a good ride for the most part. The simple suspension set up is well suited to soaking up the lumps, bumps and potholes that are so common on British roads, albeit with a few unsophisticated thumps. 

The only real quibble with the drive is the slightly notchy and imprecise gear change in the earlier TCe models - though in later cars this seems to have been fixed - they now have the same light, easy shift as the other Sandero models. 

The 1.5-litre diesel is the cheapest new diesel on the market and is efficient with CO2 emissions of below 100g/km. In terms of maturity and all round appeal on UK roads, it feels like a much more grown-up package. But it just doesn’t feel as accomplished as the little 900cc three-cylinder, which is the pick of the range.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
0.9 Tce 58 mpg - 109 g/km
0.9 TCe 52–58 mpg 11.1 s 109–123 g/km
1.0 SCe 49–54 mpg 14.2 s 117–119 g/km
1.2 48–49 mpg 14.5 s 130–135 g/km
1.5 dCi 90 74–81 mpg 11.8–12.1 s 90–99 g/km
1.5 dCi 95 76 mpg - 90–98 g/km

Real MPG average for a Dacia Sandero (2013)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

35–72 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Dacia Sandero (2013)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Is there a simple car out there with few gadgets?

I'm looking for a car for my 81 year old mother with the least amount of gadgets. Is there a car out there that has buttons and levers for the radio and heating? She currently drives a Toyota Avensis
A Dacia might be a good option. They're pretty basic, with rotary controls for the heating and simple buttons for the radio on lower-spec models. Alternatively, look at a low-spec city car like a Kia Picanto.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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What do owners think?

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