Dacia Sandero Review 2023

Dacia Sandero At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Dacia Sandero is still one of Britain's cheapest new cars, although this latest model has recently leapt up in price. Still, you won't find this much space for the money elsewhere, while it's more comfortable and less basic than you might think.

+Cheap and cheerful car that represents great value. Surprisingly comfortable. The 90PS engine is a great all-rounder.

-It's now much pricier to buy new as the cheapest engine and trim levels have been removed. Mind you, the 60PS engine was best avoided anyway.

On average it achieves 0% of the official MPG figure

The Dacia Sandero has held the crowning glory of being Britain's cheapest new car for some time now. However - shock horror - Dacia has removed the basic models, meaning it's lost that title by a whisker to the Kia Picanto. Still, the plucky Sandero is roomier and has more equipment, so it continues to represent great value. 

Now the Sandero has increased in price as a new car its core rival is the entry-level Citroen C3, which starts at £12,995. Other small cars of this size are all considerably more. There's also the MG3, although that's getting on a bit, while similarly-priced city car rivals don't offer anything like this level of space for the cash.

It's not that hard to see where the money has been saved in the Sandero, mind you. The interior looks and feels pretty cheap in places, but the design is pleasant and everything works well. 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 little 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 (no longer available new) 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, which is why very few people bought them new. 

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 some warranty you won't get with a cheaper, older used car, the Dacia Sandero well worth a look.

Looking for a second opinion? Check out heycar's review of the Dacia Sandero

Looking for the old model? You'll need our review of the 2013-2020 Dacia Sandero.

Ask Honest John

I need to replacing my ancient Ford Fiesta, what should I choose?

"We rather need to replace our high mileage and well worn 2004 Ford Fiesta. Still good to drive and almost completely reliable apart from troublesome front springs. Problem is we live in the sticks, nowhere near EV charging infrastructure and don't want to get involved in such outlay. What we really require is a simple straightforward replacement for our beloved old 4 door hatch Fiesta. We're quite wary of some newer Fords however - an acquaintance has no end of grief with a small 'Eco boost' model that used to be in their possession. Suggestions for new or recent used very welcome."
Given that your current Fiesta suited your needs so well, you could replace it with a newer version but choose one without an EcoBoost engine if you wish to avoid it. Even the most recent Fiestas were available with a 1.1-litre non-EcoBoost petrol engine or you could go for the 1.5-litre diesel. Older versions were also available with a 1.25-litre petrol engine that did not feature the EcoBoost technology. Alternatively if you are looking for something simple, we would suggest looking at the Dacia Sandero, which is robust and good value for money.
Answered by David Ross

What petrol car fo you suggest?

"I currently own a 2020 VW T-Cross, which I am happy with but feel it has a little too much technology built in, i.e. lane assist which is not much use on rural road in Mid Wales. I would like to change for a newer 1 year old car, petrol engine, auto gearbox. I am tempted by a VW Polo or Ford Puma but find that the range of petrol engine cars is very limited now. Electric power is not the answer to our problems and not suitable for me, but what cars are available to me now please?"
Safety regulations mean such technology is pretty much mandatory now so most modern cars have it. You could try a Dacia Sandero - it's a basic hatchback without clever driver-assistance tech (and therefore a two-star Euro NCAP safety rating!).
Answered by Andrew Brady

What is the cheapest new car to buy in the UK for cash please?

"What is the cheapest new car to buy in the UK for cash please? Less than £15,000."
The cheapest new car in the UK is the Dacia Sandero - it starts from £12,995.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Will my car's infotainment system still work if I refuse the software update?

"I have been quoted a high fee for an infotainment software subscription on my Dacia Sandero. Will the system and reversing camera still work if I refuse the update? "
The system should operate as normal without the software update, but the navigation map might not include any road changes that have happened since it was first installed.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Dacia Sandero cost?