REVIEW: Dacia Sandero

When you review new cars every week it’s obvious that you get a good mix of petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric cars. After a few weeks driving automatic and electric cars from Mercedes, last week I sat into the ‘shockingly affordable’ Dacia Duster.

‘Shockingly Affordable’, yes that was Dacia advertising line when they introduced their range of cars to the Irish market in 2012. The Romanian company, now under the Renault umbrella continue to produce cars at very affordable prices.

Dacia has recently launched a new version of the Sandero supermini, with prices starting from €12,990. The latest Sandero and Sandero Stepway sport come with an all-new design, updated equipment and technology. The new Sandero has a much sleeker look and is more modern than the previous version.

The Dacia brand started in Romania in 1966 when a licensing agreement was signed with Renault. Dacia’s mission was to make modern, robust family cars available to everyone in Romania.

The main Dacia factory in Pitesti was built in 1968 and started with the production of the Dacia 1100 model, which was based on the Renault 8. Then the Dacia 1300 was introduced in 1969 and between then and 2004 over two million different version of the 1300 were sold.

In 1999, Renault took a 51% stake in Dacia and this would later rise to 99.3% over the period 1999 to 2003. Next up was the Sandero and a saloon and estate version of the Logan. Then in 2010 came Dacia’s best seller The Duster.

Some people may turn their noses at a Dacia car, but for a young person trying to buy a house or apartment and also anxious to buy a new car, I think a Dacia Sandero could solve their problem.

I drove the Essential level, which wasn’t the entry level as it cost over €13k. It’s definitely a ‘no frills’ car and there was no vanity mirror for my wife in the front passenger seat. No hand grips for driver or passenger, but you get a good old-fashioned hand-brake.

After a week in the Sandero I found that the 1.0-litre petrol engine was one of the most frugal engines that I drove in recent years.

I love radios in cars, but I must say that selecting new stations wasn’t easy in the Sandero. When I picked up the car 98FM was the only station already on the list of pre-selects. It was a bit frustrating until I got help from a colleague.

It’s a lively motor and the doors do make a bit of noise when you close them, but overall no complaints. There is an old saying that you pay for what you get in life. And a brand new four-door car for just under €13k is definitely a bargain.

There is room in the back seat for three adults, but I think it would be more comfortable with two adults or maybe three children.

No spare wheel provided, but there is huge ‘well’ to hold a spare. So once again my advice is to haggle with your Dacia dealer for a spare wheel, if buying new. Road tax is €190.

The starting price is €12,990, while my Essential SC3 65 will cost you €13,290. However, paying extras for a Dacia does I think spoil the ‘shockingly affordable’ idea.