Renault subsidiary Dacia is very well known and a regular site on the Continent but its Romanian made models are new to Britain, and they are launching the Sandero supermini from under £6,000 among its 149 dealers. Officially the starter Sandero variant is the most affordable new car in the UK priced at £5,995
Dacia has already introduced the Duster SUV towards the end of 2012 and it won the Scottish Car of the Year title with its off and on road abilities and this summer we will see the Logan MCV added to the range.
The Sandero five door supermini measures up against some worthy rivals from Ford and Vauxhall as well as the Peugeot and Citroen brands but it handsomely undercuts them on list prices.
Sandero is available in seven versions from under £6,000 to £9,795 covering Access, Ambiance and Laureate trim levels with selection of Renault sourced 90bhp, 898cc,turbocharged three-cylinder and 75bhp 1.2-litre normally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engines or 90bhp 1.5 four-cylinder turbodiesel engines but only with five-speed manual gearboxes.
Access trim level is available only in white, has cloth upholstery, no standard radio but it has ABS with Emergency Brake Assist, ASR traction control, ESC (Electronic Stability Control), driver, passenger and front side airbags and ISOFIX points in both outer rear seats15” steel wheels, power assisted steering, a 60/40 split folding rear seat and even daytime running lights. As yet Euro NCAP has not tested the Sandero for its official safety rating but the newish Duster SUV received three-stars.
For £600 more, the mid-level Ambiance gains radio CD player with fingertip remote controls, USB and AUX input, Bluetooth, remote central locking, electric front windows, body coloured bumpers and chrome detailing to the fascia as well as wheel trims.
The top-of-the-range Sandero versions called Laureate are likely to be taken up by two-thirds of buyers and there are three available depending on chosen engine from £7,995, just £2,000 more than the entry version. With air conditioning, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, cruise control and electric rear windows as standard there is optional fully integrated 7-inch touchscreen navigation and multimedia system for just £250. They have a 3yr/ 60,000 miles warranty but extra cover can be bought from dealers.
All share a common five-door body with nominal 320-litres bootspace which can be gradually extended to 1,200-litres as seats fold away.
Dacia UK product manager Adam Wood said, “With Dacia we want to break the rules and do something different in the car industry because there are broadly similar products, brands and priced cars which have been here for many years and now Dacia has arrived to challenge them and set out an alternative.”
He added, “Many people who buy a second hand model would really like to have a new car but they are expensive and now with Dacia Sandero they have an alternative with a new car at a sensible price and backed by all the usual support you get from a new car dealer including a good warranty and servicing.”
The new car for the price of a used one is made possible by the Dacia Sandero’s simple engineering and equipment which does not cut corners on safety and has the expertise of Renault behind it. There are similarities, but also differences, to the historic arrival of the Korean car makers in Britain in the 1980s who offered cheap cars but did not have a well-known European parent guiding them in the way Renault has with Dacia.
Dacia’s UK dealers are mainly Renault outlets as well, but some have stand alone showrooms for the Romanian brand while others integrate them.
Our first drive in the Dacia Sandero Ambiance with the three-cylinder 898cc engine shows the enormous potential for the car.
It is adequately roomy for a family with children in the back, the boot will take some holiday cases or many shopping bags and it rides fairly well.
There was body roll on bends taken above modest speed and while it soaked up bumps without much complaint you could hear the suspension working away and the road noise was ever present.
Although the trim level of the Ambiance has attractive highlights, the overall impression it left me with was of a practical and purposeful interior but not an eye-opening one.
On the road the route was too short to give a fair reflection of its fuel consumption but the official figure is 54.3mpg, and this is likely to be some 10mpg better than real world use would show, but that is down to how you drive.
For a little engine it really pulls surprisingly well and smoothly too and on a short main road section at the legal maximum it was very composed and quiet. It would be an ideal school run or commuting car so long as you did not push too hard.
There is no doubt the Sandero will make an impression and it holds the possibility of good residual value retention as well as the market is definitely shifting away from overpriced new cars and the glut of used cars is affecting their resale value as well.
For those buyers who want a roomy, five door supermini sized ‘new’ car rather than a ‘used’ one, the budget priced Dacia Sandero is definitely worth consideration. For a few pounds more than the monthly rental cost of the latest mobile phone a Sandero can be leased if buying is not an option. For just £69 per month over four years with a deposit of £1,845 you can own one.
For customer wanting a bit more image for little money there is also the Sandero Stepway. This is a chunky SUV styled version of the Sandero and still with front wheel drive. The Stepway is available with the 898cc three cylinder petrol and 1.5-litre turbodiesel engines and with the choice of Ambiance and Laureate trim levels. Prices range from £7,995 to £10,795.
MILESTONES. Dacia Sandero TCe 90 Ambience 5-Door Hatchback. Price: £7,395. Engine/transmission: 898cc, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol, 90hp, 99.6lb ft of torque from 2,500rpm, 5-speed manual. Perforemance: 109mph, 0-62mph 11.1 seconds, 54.3mpg, CO2 116g/km, VED road tax £0 First year rate then £30 per annum second year onwards. Insurance group: TBC. Boot/load space: 320 to 1,200-litres.Warranty: 3-years/60k. For: Low price, roomy interior space, solidly built, descent drive. Against: Road noise intrusion, low-rent interior plastic trim, ‘old school’ handling, cornering body roll. Robin Roberts Miles Better News Agency