Dacia Sandero long-term test review

It's not the headline-grabbing Β£5995 Sandero, but hopefully our 0.9 TCe Ambiance car should prove easy to live with…

Words By Jimi Beckwith

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  • The car Dacia Sandero 0.9 TCe 90 Ambiance
  • Run by Jimi Beckwith, special contributor
  • Why it's here Britain's cheapest car has received a midlife facelift. It's here to show us just how much it's improved and if cheap can indeed be cheerful.
  • Needs to Impress a wide range of people without the lack of dignity that comes with so many budget cars. Practicality and small running costs are musts.

List price Β£7995 Price as tested Β£8640 Miles covered 8700 Official economy 57.6 Test economy 52.2mpg Options fitted Height adjustment pack (Β£50; now standard), metallic paint (Β£495), emergency spare wheel (Β£100)

4 January 2018 – a change of pace for the Sandero

For reasons too numerous and irrelevant to list, I’ve moved house. Not just down the road, but precisely 62.5 miles away. To Southampton.

That means a commute of between an hour and 90 minutes, depending on traffic. And the question I’m now asked most frequently – aside from β€œare you mad?” – is how I can afford the commute.

The thing is, I’m in the black in this respect. I fill up every few days, depending on the amount of mileage I do outside of my commute. And I’m spending less money on petrol than I was on rent in my former abode.

It’s completely changed the way I use the plucky Sandero, too – I no longer need zip and nimbleness in an urban setting; I need smoothness, quietness, comfort and fuel economy.

With this change of use comes a change in driving style. I’m now far lighter-footed and the Sandero's Eco button has transformed from something of an obscurity to a constant companion – I now only turn Eco mode off when I need a little more power.

This has contributed to far improved fuel economy, with the Sandero now achieving around 50mpg for the past few weeks, where before it achieved low 40s. As an added bonus, the car can even feel comparatively sporty with Eco mode turned off, even if it's no Renault Clio RS.

Granted, the 1.5-litre diesel dCi engine would be better suited to the mega-miles I’m now undertaking (around 30,000 miles per year on commuting alone). The diesel would doubtless give even better fuel economy, too, with Dacia claiming 83.1mpg for that engine to the petrol’s 65.7mpg. But the petrol’s fuel-sipping nature, bolstered by the Eco button, means it gives convincing results both in and out of town and is far less of a financial strain than other cars, especially since I'm on a strict budget. Now, if that's not fulfilling its purpose, I don't know what is.

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