Dacia Sandero hatchback performance
There are three engines to choose from: a 1.0-litre non-turbo petrol, a 0.9-litre turbocharged petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel.
The 1.0-litre copes well around town but needs revving quite hard whenever you venture out of the city limits. At higher speeds, particularly on the motorway, you find yourself continually swapping gears to keep the engine on song.
The 0.9-litre unit has noticeably more torque – or low-rev pulling power – so you don't need to rev it as hard to get up to speed. However, there is often an annoying delay between pressing the accelerator pedal and the acceleration actually arriving while you wait for the turbocharger to spin up.
The diesel engine has enough power and torque to feel at home wherever you take it, pulling strongly from low revs in any gear. However, it is the most expensive engine option.
Dacia Sandero hatchback ride
There's nothing particularly sophisticated about the way the Sandero rides. However, it has fairly soft suspension, so manages to smother most bumps pretty well, and even potholes don't send particularly nasty jolts through the car.
Too much over the road surface is channelled up through the steering column, though, meaning you feel vibration through your fingertips, while the Sandero's suspension isn't very well controlled over dips and crests. The rival Ford Ka+ feels much better and more connected to the road.
Dacia Sandero hatchback handling
Compared with rivals such as the Ka+, the Sandero isn’t particularly sharp or entertaining to drive. There's a pronounced amount of body roll in tight corners and the Sandero doesn't feel particularly eager to change direction. The steering is fairly slow, but it's at least accurate and weights up consistently as you turn in to bends.
Small cars don’t have to be the last word in dynamic poise, so the fact that the Sandero doesn’t get your pulse racing isn’t the end of the world. More important is the fact that its handling is secure and predictable.
Dacia Sandero hatchback refinement
The Sandero delivers precisely the level of refinement you would expect of a car this cheap. That is to say, not very much.
All versions suffer from lots of engine noise; both petrols get thrashy at high revs, while the diesel is even worse because it constantly gives off too much vibration. It's enough to make think you're driving a 1960s lorry.
A notchy gearshift also disappoints, and both wind and road noise are intrusive at higher speeds.