Dacia Sandero
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Dacia Sandero
Billed as the UK’s most affordable car, the price tag soon creeps up as the very basic ‘Access’ spec is left behind. Our test car is the range topping Laureat

Dacia Sandero Laureate dCi 90

What is it?

Starting at £5995. the Dacia Sandero is billed as the UK’s most affordable new car. That eye-popping price tag has of course garnered it headlines galore as it undercuts the Ford Fiestas and Fiat 500s of this world by £1000s….

Our test car has a company car tax bill of just £21 a month. Tempting…

The Romanian-built Sandero is a plain and simple five-door hatchback. It comes to market with three engine choices (900cc and 1.2-litre petrol, and 1.5 litre diesel), plus three model grades – Access, Ambience and Laureate.

The business model behind the Sandero (and indeed the Renault-owned Dacia brand) is to “do something different” and use the Easyjet approach to offer a no-frills service, undercutting the opposition. Then you pay for the extras you want.

The most basic Sandero Access (£5995) comes thus in just one colour (white), with black bumpers, no radio, 15-inch steel wheels, manual front windows and 1.2 petrol engine.

Dacia Sandero
Interior space is comparable with rivals, and the top spec Laureate is reasonably appealing inside

The bulk of orders to date (64%) however have been for this top spec Laureate  which takes the transaction price up closer to the £8-£9K mark, which  suggests there’s a limit to how few frills the market will actually go for.   

Also, while Dacia expects the 1.2 petrol Sandero to be the most in-demand, it’s this 1.5 litre diesel that has the best economy (74.3mpg) and lowest CO2 (99g/km) and with 13% BIK so looks the best fit for the company car market.

So, this Sandero Laureate dCi 90 (£9795 OTR, or £9740 P11D) is quite some ways off the “shockingly affordable” base edition, especially optioned up to £10,940, as tested. Still, as a total package, how does the Sandero stack up? 

  

 

Dacia Sandero
The look is formulaic, but perfectly inoffensive. Handling and ride are OK too

What’s hot?

  • Price. The Sandero is fundamentally strong value versus the competition, especially if you can live without features such as alloy wheels, parking sensors and central locking.
  • Strong torque and easy driveability of the smooth (Renault-sourced) 1.5 litre diesel makes for decent all-round performance
  • Space and practicality. The Sandero has front and rear space  measurements to compare with Fabia, Corsa and Fiesta and in some areas bests them all, according to Dacia’s data
  • Claimed best in class boot space (320 litres)
  • Supple, well damped ride. The Sandero’s handling is ultimately not that precise and there’s some body lean when pushed, but overall it’s pleasant, predictable and planted through corners. Even fun…  
  • Fuel economy. Urban 65.7 mpg; Extra Urban 80.7 mpg; Combined 74.3 mpg.
  • Competitive CO2 emissions of 99g/km. £0 VED

 

Dacia Sandero
Switchgear will be familiar to Renault drivers of a few years ago

What’s not?

  • The vast majority of Sanderos will not get anywhere near that headline £5995 price. Even the base 1.2 Access with Laureate trim is £2K extra
  • At nearly £11,000 for this Sandero Laureate faces plenty of strong, well established competition (VW up!, Skoda Citigo, Hyundai i10 etc).
  • The Sandero’s formulaic styling will not turn too many heads in the street
  • Relatively small Dacia dealer network (149 sites all within Renault dealer network)
  • Cabins of Access and Ambience versions are very plain, but for the price it’s hard to complain. Even this top Laureate has its share of ex-Renault switchgear and budget carpets.

 

Dacia Sandero
Make no mistake – the Sandero is perfectly capable of the job cars have to do. And remember those rock-bottom running costs

Business Car Manager Verdict

The UK never got the first generation Dacia Sandero which was frequently lampooned on Top Gear. However, this new 2013 Sandero is certainly no joke.

It’s a honest, practical, good value 5-door package which is decent enough to drive and actually something remarkable in the marketplace considering the price. It has good space and in this diesel spec, outstanding economy.

Running costs will be rock bottom which will be of direct interest to company car managers and while the cabins of base and middle rank models are pretty cheerless, the presentation of this Laureate is far more appealing, if still behind the likes of the Skoda Citigo and VW up! for ultimate fit and finish.

Dacia, as a start-up in the UK, obviously lacks name recognition but with its Easyjet type business model, it will be interesting to see how both Dacia and the Sandero fare in the cut-throat UK marketplace.

Suffice to say, as a budget brand on the move, Dacia is off and running with the Sandero. It’s a simple car that works.  

The Low Down…

Doors and body style  5-door hatchback
Engine/gearbox  1.5-litre diesel/5-speed manual
CO2 Emissions  99g/km
Economy  74.3mpg
Power/torque  91PS/220Nm
0-62mph/top speed  12.1secs/104mph
Insurance group  N/A

…and what it costs

P11D Value  £9740
Monthly business rental (ex VAT)  £167
Road tax (VED)  Band A
Company Car Tax Bands 2012/13 to 2014/15  13%, 14%, 15%
Benefit in kind 2012/13 to 2014/15  £1266, £1364, £1461
Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%)  £525/£44
Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%)  £1050/£88
Annual/monthly company car tax (20%)  £253/£21
Annual/monthly company car tax (40%)  £506/£42
Figures correct at time of posting 
For latest figures Use our company car tax calculator
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