The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Avoid entry-level Access trim if you can, because it makes do without a height-adjustable driver's seat and central armrest. All other trim levels get these important features, and all versions of the latest Dacia Sandero have a height and reach-adjustable steering wheel as standard, helping to make it easy to get yourself comfortable behind the wheel.
You’ll have no problems seeing the instrument dials, and all of the dashboard controls, including those for the air conditioning (Essential trim and above), are simple and clear. This is an area in which the Sandero is actually better than some posher rivals. The Peugeot 208, for example, has fiddly, touch-sensitive dashboard buttons.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The windscreen pillars on the Dacia Sandero are not too thick, but the rear pillars are quite chunky and the rear screen is a little shallow. The same is true of many rival cars too, though, although the Skoda Fabia offers a clearer over-the-shoulder view when you’re reversing.
The Sandero comes with rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera as standard if you go for the Comfort trim we recommend. Even more impressive is that LED headlights are standard across the range because they cost extra on the majority of small cars, even much pricier ones such as the Volkswagen Polo.
Sat nav and infotainment
Go for entry-level Access trim and you don't even get a radio or speakers, although you do get a smartphone cradle on the dashboard. Step up to mid-rung Essential trim and you'll get a DAB radio, Bluetooth and two speakers, although it's still a fairly basic system by modern standards, with no touchscreen interface.
To get one of those, you'll need to go for our favoured Comfort trim. The 8.0in colour touchscreen system has built-in sat-nav, along with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring that you can sync your phone with wirelessly, saving you the trouble of plugging it into the USB socket on short journeys.
The screen is mounted helpfully high up on the dashboard and is tilted towards the driver, with some touch-sensitive buttons down the side that you can use as shortcuts between functions. We’d prefer physical shortcut buttons, but the operating system is easy to get used to and responds relatively quickly to prods and swipes.
If you want a plush interior in your small car, have a look at the Mini first and foremost, and then the Peugeot 208. They both look and feel really upmarket inside by class standards.
But they’re super-expensive compared with the Dacia Sandero, which, bearing in mind its price, is actually very well finished inside. Okay, all the plastics are hard, but that’s the same deal in the Skoda Fabia, Seat Ibiza and Hyundai i20.
Besides, the plastics in the Sandero are not unappealing to look at, and there's some tasteful fabric trim on the dashboard to lift the ambience. Plus, if you go for Comfort trim, you'll get some chrome interior highlights and a 'soft feel' steering wheel, which does a good impression of leather.
The Dacia Sandero Stepway is a brilliant small car that&n...
The MG 3 is keenly priced, but still hard to recommend
Spacious, quiet, comfortable and good value on PCP financ...
The Kia Rio is a competent supermini, but it’s pricey, and it...