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New Dacia Sandero vs used Volkswagen Polo

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?...

New Dacia Sandero vs used Volkswagen Polo

The contenders

NEW Dacia Sandero 1.0TCe 90 Comfort 

List Price: £11,595
Target price: £11,595

The practical and efficient Sandero is a real bargain from the get-go


USED Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 95 SE

Price new: £16,635
Price today: £12,500*

The latest Polo is classy, comfortable and compellingly affordable when bought used

*Price today is based on a 2019 model with average mileage and a full service history and is correct at the time of writing


When a new small car has a very low list price, that trait is usually its saving grace; "It’s okay because it’s cheap" is the phrase you hear. But in the case of the Dacia Sandero, its status as the cheapest new car in Britain only acts as the cherry on the top of what is already a hugely rounded and capable machine.

Dacia Sandero 2022 front cornering

It truly takes the fight to more expensive models, thanks in part to its roomy interior, relaxed ride and range of punchy yet economical engines. In fact, the Sandero ranks among the best new cars of its kind, with few rivals getting it so right even before you factor in money.

Here, though, we’ve decided to pit it against one of the best used small cars out there: the Volkswagen Polo. It’s the more premium option and, in three-year-old form, is barely any more expensive than the Sandero.

So, does the Sandero still shine when faced with such tough competition, or does the Polo reveal cracks in its armour? Read on to find out.

Volkswagen Polo front

Driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement

While both cars have three-cylinder petrol engines under their bonnets, the Polo's provides more power. Sure, we're only talking an extra 5bhp – with 94bhp against the Sandero's 89bhp – but it feels quicker nonetheless. And this is backed up by the pair’s 0-62mph times: the Sandero will complete the run in 11.0sec, compared with the Polo's 10.2sec.

That said, like the Polo, the Sandero offers a good amount of low and mid-range shove, so it doesn't have to be thrashed, even when you're trying to get up to motorway speeds.

Dacia Sandero rear

The fact that the Sandero has fairly soft suspension adds to its relaxed feel, with this smoothing out most lumps and bumps in the road, without bouncing you around in your seat nauseatingly. It's only over really pitted surfaces that the Polo's ride feels more polished.

Similarly, the Sandero is no fool in the corners, because there’s a decent amount of grip and its steering is well weighted. However, the Polo has the edge, because it combines the same plus points with less body lean, so feels more eager to change direction.

Volkswagen Polo rear

Considering the Sandero was built to be a budget small car, you might imagine refinement is where it all falls to pieces. But, thankfully, you’d be wrong, because it's a reasonably hushed cruiser. What's more, its clutch has a well defined biting point and the brakes feel reassuring.

That said, you do hear a bit less wind and road noise in the Polo, and its engine transmits less vibration into the car at higher revs.