Dacia Sandero long-term test review

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

Dacia Sandero long-term test review
  • 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 £7995 Price as tested £8640 Miles covered 10,500 Official economy 57.6 Test economy 48.2mpg Options fitted Height adjustment pack (£50; now standard), metallic paint (£495), emergency spare wheel (£100)

1 February 2018 – New versus used

I’ve passed 10,000 miles in the Sandero, and things have been reasonably smooth so far. The Sandero is a cheap car – that’s its unique selling point, after all – yet from the outside, it’s indistinguishable from many more expensive superminis, especially in our Ambiance specification. It’s attractively styled, of average size, and blends in with the other traffic on the road in a way that other budget cars can’t seem to.

What’s the catch, then? If ‘you get what you pay for’ as one of my relatives told me when we were talking about the price of the Sandero, what have I sacrificed?

Well, to find out I took a turn in a 1.0-litre Skoda Fabia before switching back to the Sandero, at which point the difference becomes all too apparent.


Dacia Sandero long-term test review

First off, there’s the sound. The Sandero is fairly quiet, although the 0.9-litre three-cylinder is quite a lot louder than the Skoda’s, particularly at higher revs. Getting on the motorway every morning, that’s conspicuous. There’s almost certainly less sound deadening in the Sandero – toot the horn in the Skoda and the horn sounds distant and insulated, whereas in the Sandero, it could almost be under the passenger seat.

Next, there are some rather rough edges on the interior trim in the Sandero, where the plastics have come out of the moulds without much finish. There’s a ridge on the indicator stalk and the upper dash vents look far more unpolished than the Skoda’s. Small touches all, but they add up to a feeling of economy in the Sandero and solidity in the Fabia.

So how does it stack up to a used Fabia – which is worth a not dissimilar price to the Sandero’s on-the-road price one year ago? It’s held up admirably, albeit with a few minor technical problems and a knocking noise, although the first MOT is due soon. No such problems with the Sandero, except those intermittent interior rattles I've discussed in earlier reports.

So which would I have? The Skoda is better equipped and better built than the bargain Sandero, but there will come a point where the used Fabia will become less reliable than the new Dacia and could start to cost you serious money. For sheer peace of mind at this point, then, I'll stick with the Sandero.

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