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New Dacia Sandero vs used Volkswagen Polo: costs

The Sandero is Britain's cheapest new car, and gives you a huge amount for your money, but would you be better off spending a similar amount on a three-year-old Polo?...

Dacia Sandero boot badge

Buying and owning

Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security

The Dacia Sandero is so cheap to start with that no discounts are available, but you can still buy it outright for around £1000 less than a 2019 Volkswagen Polo in good condition and with less than 50,000 miles on the clock. 

Alternatively, if you take out PCP finance to buy the Sandero, you're looking at £153 per month for a 48-month contract that includes an annual limit of 8000 miles, a £1927 deposit and an optional final payment of £5516.

As for the Polo, we were quoted £213 per month to finance it, again on a 48-month agreement. However, here the annual limit was 10,000 miles, while the deposit was just £1000 and there would be no final payment.

Volkswagen Polo boot badge

Both cars are expected to hold on to their value well. Our experience with the previous Sandero suggests that it should lose only a small proportion of its modest asking price over the first three years of ownership. Meanwhile, the Polo's original owner will have taken the initial hit of depreciation, so when bought at three years old, our experts predict it will retain its value at least as well as a new Sandero. 

Servicing costs amount to around £1000 for each – £982 for the Sandero and £953 for the Polo – over three years. However, the Polo should be cheaper to insure, because it attracts a group eight rating, whereas the Sandero is in group 11.

On the other hand, the Sandero is the more fuel efficient of the two, with an official average of 53.3mpg versus the Polo’s 50.4mpg. And as petrol cars registered after April 2017, both will cost £155 per year in road tax

The latest-generation Sandero was too new to feature in our most recent What Car? Reliability Survey. However, the previous iteration did appear, and its 100% rating put it in first place out of 17 cars in the small car category. That's an amazingly positive indicator, and puts the Polo's 80.6% rating and 16th place finish to shame

Dacia Sandero Stepway Euro NCAP crash test

On the flipside, the Polo is rated much higher for safety by the independent experts at Euro NCAP. It garnered a maximum five-star rating, albeit back in 2017 when the tests weren't as touch, whereas the Sandero received two stars under the latest testing regime, mainly due to its limited active safety systems. 

By choosing new, you can sleep at night knowing your standard three-year, 60,000-mile Dacia warranty will cover any faults. Volkswagen offers the same warranty on its new models, but with a 2019 example, you’ll have to fork out some extra cash if you want more cover.  

Equipment-wise, only the Polo has alloy wheels and a variable-height boot floor, but the Sandero counters with rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry and cruise control – these items were optional extras on the Polo when it was new. Both cars come with electric front and rear windows.


New rivals, used rivals

MG 3 front

Few new cars come even close to the Sandero’s bargain price tag, but a new MG 3 (in entry-level form) is available for around £1000 more. That said, its shortcomings in refinement, comfort and safety, let it down.

Used alternatives are more widespread, with the Ford Fiesta one of the models besides the Polo that's well worth considering, thanks to its punchy engines and fun handling.