Dacia Sandero (2021) Review
Dacia Sandero (2021) At A Glance
Choosing obvious rivals for the Dacia Sandero isn't easy. Small cars like the Skoda Citigo and Hyundai i10 get closest on price – although they're still significantly more expensive and don't have anything like the interior space you get in the Sandero. Meanwhile, cars that can match the Dacia's space – models like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo – cost more than twice the price.
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It's not hard to see where the money has been saved, mind you. The interior looks and feels cheap in places, but the design is pleasant and everything works. The controls are clear and easy to use and top-end models get a basic infotainment screen that adds colour and can connect to your smartphone using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These Comfort models also get posher seat upholstery and flashes of colour on the dashboard.
Interior space is hard to grumble about. The front and rear seats are roomy, there's space for four six-footers to get genuinely comfortable and the boot is also big for a car that costs so little. Interior storage spaces are numerous, confirming the Dacia as a car that could slot into daily life with no difficulty at all.
If it is going to be a car you'll use every day on a variety of roads – from the town to the country and the motorway – do yourself a favour and specify the 90PS petrol engine. This 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit has a turbocharger that makes it a lot more flexible when you're accelerating up to a cruise and powering up hills, plus it comes in tandem with a six-speed manual gearbox that means it feels less frantic on the motorway.
The 65PS version of the same engine does without a turbo so it's slow and the five-speed gearbox it comes with means you'll have to suffer from a fair amount of engine drone at 70mph. By the same token, the CVT automatic gearbox available with 90PS models saps power, while the £400 more expensive 100PS bi-fuel model – which can run on LPG – only really make sense if you do lots of miles and have access to LPG.
Whichever engine you go for you'll find the Dacia is a tidy handler that emphasises comfort rather than sporty handling like a secondhand Ford Fiesta that you could have for the same money. Compared to the Ford, the Dacia runs out of grip in bends relatively quickly and its light steering doesn't inspire you to drive quickly.
That said, the Dacia's suspension deals with bumps and potholes well and it's perfectly comfortable on longer jaunts so long as you avoid the basic engine. Great visibility means it's the perfect car for navigating through the city – if you do this exclusively then there's a case for the CVT auto – and top-of-the-range Comfort models come with rear parking sensors and a camera that make reverse parking even easier.
These are just two of the many good reasons to choose the comfort model. It has a nicer interior than the rest of the range and keyless entry, which goes on top of the kit you get with Essential models that includes air conditioning and a stereo. Access versions are very basic – they have electric windows, central locking and that's about it.
These Access cars are the embodiment of basic motoring, but if you're looking for a cheap set of wheels that'll cost buttons to run and gets the warranty you won't get with a second-hand car, the Dacia Sandero well worth a look.