2024 Dacia Spring electric car review
The Dacia Spring looks set to be the UK’s most affordable electric car when it arrives next year. We get behind the wheel of a euro-spec version to get an early impression of what it’s like...
On sale Summer 2024 (est) | Price from £20,000 (est)
When you’re working at the office or away from home, one of the most important questions of the day is ‘What’s for lunch?’. Sure, you could treat yourself to a takeaway, but a supermarket meal deal contains all the key components for a lot less money.
This Dacia Spring electric car is, in effect, the meal deal – giving you all the essentials for an expected price tag of £20,000. That undercuts our current favourite small electric model, the MG4 EV (£26,995), as well as the Electric Fiat 500 (£28k), the Renault Zoe (£30k) and the Honda e (£37k). The Citroën Ami costs around £8000, but that's technically a quadricycle and is compromised for everyday usability.
We've driving a euro-spec version of the Spring – here's how it performed...
What’s the Dacia Spring like to drive?
Despite the raised suspension and slightly rugged body work, the Spring doesn’t possess any off-road ability and is strictly front-wheel drive. Two power outputs are available, with either 44bhp or 64bhp, although both have a top speed of 78mph. We suspect the less powerful version’s 0-62mph time of 19.1sec means it only really makes sense if you'll only be driving fairly short local journeys in a town or city centre.
The 64bhp version is a sound choice, being sprightly at low speeds and able to keep up with motorway traffic. Still, all of the Spring’s rivals (not counting the Ami) are more refined at any speed, with far less road, wind and electric motor noise.
Our test car’s soft suspension tuned for European roads soaks up the worst of most bumps, but quickly becomes choppy and struggles to settle down. The raised ride height means there’s a huge amount of body lean when cornering and plenty of vertical movement over undulating roads, resulting in a tiring experience for occupants on longer trips.
The steering has a keen initial response, but provides very little sense of grip, inspiring minimal confidence when tackling roundabouts above town speeds. In short, the rival cars have a more sophisticated ride and handling setup, feeling less out of depth once you venture out of a town or city.
All Springs come with a 26.8kWh battery (25kWh of which is usable), with the 44bhp model achieving an official range of 149 miles and the 64bhp version dipping slightly to 136 miles. That’s further than the entry-level Electric Fiat 500 (118 miles), but significantly shorter than the MG4 SE’s 218 miles and the Zoe’s 239 miles.
To maximise its real-world range, you can select an ‘eco’ drive mode to limit the maximum power output to 31bhp and top speed to 62mph. A regenerative braking system also helps harvest back some energy when slowing down, although the strength can’t be adjusted and it’s not strong enough to bring the car to a halt. Meanwhile, a CCS charging port hidden behind the front badge allows the Spring to use a public rapid charger with a peak charging rate of 34kW, taking around 38 minutes for a 10-80% top-up.
What’s it like inside?
Inside, the Spring has a more commanding seating position than its rivals and its relatively large windows help provide a good view out. However, the fixed steering wheel and lack of height adjustment for the driver’s seat makes it more tricky to find a comfortable position than most rivals. Longer-legged drivers might have to bunch up their legs to reach the steering wheel.
There’s a simple 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with Apple Carplay and the ventilation controls below are within easy reach, but the buttons for all the other functions are scattered across the dashboard in no logical arrangement.
All the Spring’s rivals (again, excluding the Ami) feel more robust and the extensive use of scratchy plastic makes the interior feel like a budget product. However, it’s worth noting the UK will get an updated version with a refreshed interior, so the layout and materials should improve over the version we've driven.
There’s plenty of head and leg room for a 6ft tall occupant sitting up front, while an equally tall passenger sitting behind them will feel less cramped than they would in a Fiat 500 or Mini Electric. The Spring’s rear doors also makes access to the rear seats much easier (despite the relatively small opening) and its 270-litre boot is more accommodating.
You can also fold the rear seatback down as a single piece, although it’s less versatile than the 50/50 split in the 500 and the Mini. An MG4 is more practical overall, though, accommodating up to five passengers (rather than four) and has a larger 363 litre boot with 60/40 split-folding rear seats.
All versions get basic safety kit, including front and side airbags, as well as automatic emergency braking (AEB). However, the Spring was awarded just one out of five stars when Euro NCAP tested the car in 2021, performing poorly in all areas and lacking some of the latest safety equipment. The Fiat 500 received a four-star rating the same year.
Prices and trim levels are yet to be confirmed, but for now, the Spring has a lot of financial appeal. Provided the safety rating isn’t a huge concern and the suspension is retuned for UK roads, the Spring will be a great addition to a household fleet that takes care of all the short errands.
What Car? rating 3 stars out of 5
Dacia Spring 65 (Euro spec)
Price £20,000 (est) Engine Single electric motor Power 64bhp Torque 83lb ft Gearbox 1-spd automatic Battery size 26.8kWh 0-62mph 13.7sec Top speed 78mph Official range 136 miles (WLTP) CO2, tax band 0g/km, 2%
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