Dacia Sandero review

Category: Small car

Section: Costs & verdict

Available fuel types:petrol, hybrid
Available colours:
 Dacia Sandero 2021 RHD infotainment
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RRP from£7,995
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Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

We’ve already given the game away here, haven’t we? Yes, the Dacia Sandero is cheap. Indeed, it's the cheapest new car in Britain if you go for entry-level Access trim. Some people own lawnmowers that cost more. We'd recommend going for the top-spec Comfort trim (have a look at the equipment section to see why), which is amazingly good value compared with equivalent versions of the Skoda Fabia, let alone the surprisingly pricey Ford Fiesta

So, is the Sandero expensive to run? Not at all. It'll lose you a lot less in depreciation over three years than its small car rivals and, because of that low sticker price, monthly repayments are cheap for those buying on PCP finance.

The TCe 90 petrol can officially do more than 53mpg, and you should get around 45mpg in real-world driving. True, some of its rivals, including the Toyota Yaris, will better that, but you’ll need to do a silly number of miles to get a return on the extra investment. While the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel that we recommend isn’t quite as efficient on paper, it’s worth remembering that LPG is a lot cheaper than unleaded. Unsurprisingly, there are cars that emit less CO2, but the Dacia Sandero’s low list price keeps benefit-in-kind tax bills seriously affordable for company car drivers.

Equipment, options and extras

Entry-level Access trim is ultra-cheap, but you get ugly black bumpers, steel wheels and no air conditioning. You even miss out on remote central locking, although automatic headlights and electric front windows are included.

Essential trim adds wheel trims, body-coloured bumpers, cruise control, remote central locking and air conditioning, so it's definitely worth the extra.

However, if you can, we'd recommended going for range-topping Comfort trim. It's still astonishing value but comes with a deep pool of extra kit, including electric rear windows, rain-sensing wipers and keyless entry. That's on top of the extra infotainment goodies and visibility aids we mentioned earlier.

 Dacia Sandero 2021 RHD infotainment

Reliability

Dacia didn’t do brilliantly in the What Car? Reliability Survey, finishing mid-table in joint 14th place (out of 31 brands). Still, that was above Citroën, Ford, Seat and Volkswagen and a lot higher than MG and Vauxhall.

Every new Sandero comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which is par for the course in this class. Hyundai, Kia and Renault all provide longer warranties as standard.

Safety and security

The Dacia Sandero received a disappointing two (out of five) stars after being tested for safety by Euro NCAP. However, it’s worth noting that it was assessed under the latest, much tougher test requirements. If you examine the detail of the results, you’ll find that it actually out-performs the Hyundai i10 (the only similarly priced rival to be tested under the new regulations) when it comes to protecting adult occupants in a frontal collision.

Nevertheless, more expensive rivals such as the Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris are in another league when it comes to overall safety, with both cars awarded a full five stars. Those two also get far more sophisticated active safety systems as standard, including lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control, allowing them to tot up points in the crucial Safety Assist section of the test. 

In comparison, the Dacia Sandero has to make do with just automatic emergency braking (AEB), tyre pressure monitoring, six airbags, Isofix child seat mounts and e-Call emergency assistance as standard. It's worth noting that if you go for entry-level Access trim, you get only two rear head restraints.

Overview

Often the verdict for a car costing this little would be ‘cheap but not great’. Not here, though, because the Dacia Sandero is a fine small car to spend time in and is actually above average in many areas. For practicality, it’s actually one of the best in the class. Entry-level Access trim is a bit too stripped out for most people, but the top level Comfort trim with either the TCe 90 or TCe 100 Bi-Fuel engine is a great all-round package for very little outlay. Only a disappointing Euro NCAP safety score lets the side down.

  • Amazingly good value
  • Lots of space for passengers and luggage
  • Comfortable ride
  • Poor safety rating compared with rivals
  • Entry-level trim is very basic
  • There are quieter small cars

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