Dacia Sandero (2013 – 2021) Review

Dacia Sandero (2013 – 2021) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
Any car is a good car if it’s cheap enough, and on that score, the Dacia Sandero is an absolutely brilliant car.

+Unbelievably cheap for this size of car, generous interior space and a big boot, reasonably comfortable to drive.

-Interior quality is predictably low, sparsely equipped, both on luxury and safety, pretty noisy on the road.

Insurance Groups are between 2–12
On average it achieves 85% of the official MPG figure

Yes, it’s flawed in terms of its interior quality, its refinement and its level of luxury and safety equipment, but it’s good at plenty of other stuff, and at such incredibly low prices, there can be no complaints. It’s bigger and roomier than most rival cars costing many thousands more, it’s reasonably comfortable, and it has an honest, no-nonsense charm that makes it incredibly likeable.

With the seemingly countless amount of makes and models on offer these days, there aren’t all that many cars that have a unique selling point.

And even with those that do, what that selling point is usually takes plenty of explaining, and it’s usually only a technicality that nobody really cared about in the first place. Examples? Hmm, let us see.

Well, we remember Mercedes boasting that the first A45 AMG had the most powerful four-cylinder engine of all time, and Audi boasting that the latest A8 limousine was the first car capable of Level Three autonomous driving, although currently, that level of autonomy is not actually legal to use anywhere in the world. Seriously, who cares?

The Dacia Sandero, meanwhile, has a true USP, and it’s one that even kindergarten kids will find it easy to understand. The Dacia Sandero is the cheapest new car on sale.

And again, we’re not talking fine margins. With prices starting at £6995, the Dacia Sandero supermini costs at least £2500 less than any rival, and that includes city cars from the class below that are considerably smaller. And yet, compared with other superminis, most of which cost several thousand more again, the Sandero is also bigger and roomer, with a bigger boot. The sheer value-for-money that this car represents is scarcely believable. 

But how can Dacia - owned by Renault - flog this car for so little and still turn a profit? Well, a number of reasons. The mechanics on which it’s based are the same as those from the Renault Clio of several years ago, so they’re basic, cheap and very little had to be spent on research and development. There are also some clear signs of cost-cutting all over the car.

The interior is plasticky and unappealingly finished, on-road refinement is pretty poor and the amount of luxury and safety kit you get on most models is very low: entry-level Access models don’t even have a radio for heaven’s sake.

However, you might well be surprised at the number of things that the Sandero does pretty well. Not only is it cheap and practical, but it’s also easy and reasonably comfortable to drive, it’s easy to see out of, the engines are (just about) perky enough and do a decent job on economy.

The car also looks the part (provided you avoid the entry-level version, that is). For a car this cheap, that’s not a bad list of virtues.

Perhaps even more appealingly, though, the Sandero’s unabashed no-frills approach to motoring gives the car an honest, humble, no-nonsense character that certain buyers find incredibly appealing. This is a very likeable, very charming car, and one that just about anyone will be able to afford. How’s that for a USP?

Looking for the newest model? You'll need our Dacia Sandero (2020-on) review

Ask Honest John

What is the most reliable small automatic used car?

"I am looking to buy a small automatic used car (petrol). Budget of up to £9000 but ideally looking at something in the £5000 to £6000 range. Will be using it mainly for short city journeys and the odd longer trip on the motorway. My key concern is reliability (and I'm prepared to spend towards the top end of my budget for this). Based on other posts on this site I have been trying to focus on traditional torque converter automatics so looking at a 2016 Hyundai i10, but I'm open to other cars. What would you recommend?"
The Hyundai i10 is a good choice, as the first and second generation i10s use a torque converter automatic and have a good reliability record. Similarly the larger i20 offers similar attributes in a larger package, although it is worth noting that the 2014-on second generation i20 uses a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission when paired with the 1.0-litre T-GDi engine and a four-speed torque converter when matched to the 1.4-litre petrol. Alternatives include the Mazda 2, Kia Picanto and the 2012-on Dacia Sandero, all of which offer torque converter automatics, have a good reliability record and are well within your budget.
Answered by David Ross

What's the best back to basics hatchback?

"I need to replace a basic Renault Twingo after 13 years. The car needs to be petrol, manual, preferably with steel wheels, a full size spare, cheap to maintain and service, five doors, size up to Vauxhall Corsa or similar, boot size to hold a weekly shop for four and up to £10000 and four years old. Simple controls would be useful as I'm not into complicated tech devices. "
We'd recommend a Dacia Sandero. It's a back-to-basics hatchback that represents excellent value for money on the used market. Also consider a Suzuki Swift.
Answered by Andrew Brady

My car has only covered 1100 miles in the last year, does it still need a service?

"I have only travelled 1100 miles in the last year and my service is due, is it worth getting a service? Should I need to get a service so soon? I also have 18 years no claim bonus, shall I still protect it? Is it worth the extra money?"
Even though you have only travelled 1100 miles, Dacia recommend the Sandero is serviced every 12,000 miles or every year, whichever comes first. It may be tempting to skip a service, but regular servicing is the best way to keep a car in good health and potentially prevent problems before they occur. Although garages offer a service and MoT at the same time, you should service the car when the schedule requires it rather than arranging it around your MoT. Paying to protect your no-claims bonus means that you can make two claims in any three year period without it affecting your no-claims bonus. Given you drive a low annual mileage the risk is reduced, but at the same time you have 18 years of no-claims. Ultimately it is a personal choice based on the cost of the protection versus how your premiums will increase if you have to make a claim.
Answered by David Ross

is it possible to convert a Dacia Sandero to LPG?

"Can you tell me if it's possible to convert a petrol Dacia Sandero to LPG?"
Possible, yes. Worthwhile? Probably not. LPG is being phased out by many fuel stations in favour of electric. And aftermarket LPG systems are expensive to install and maintain. That said, the latest Sandero is available as a Bi-Fuel model that runs on petrol and LPG: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/dacia/sandero/
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Dacia Sandero (2013 – 2021) cost?