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Dacia models, news & reviews
By Ollie Kew
31 July 2013 14:00
We liked the Dacia Sandero Stepway when we first sampled it in Europe earlier this year. Standing 40mm taller than regular Sandero and sporting roof bars, plastic body cladding and an ugly ‘STEPWAY’ door sticker motif, we tried the three-cylinder petrol model, which brandishes only 898cc, 88bhp, and 104lb ft.
Now we’ve tried the brawnier diesel model on UK roads to see if it’s the pick the bargain-basement ‘Da-tcha’ range.
It’s utilitarian, useful and uninspiring, but gets the job done – which makes it a perfect fit for this no-frills car, actually. The 90bhp 1.5-litre turbodiesel is shared with Dacia’s ‘range-topping’ 4x4, the Duster, but in the Sandero Stepway it’s tasked with only driving the front wheels – there’s no part-time all-wheel drive option.
Rouse the motor with a twist of the blank, badge-free key and the derv settles into a noisy grumble that never retreats from the cabin. That said, it keeps its composure with revs and doesn’t roar a machination of harshness through the bulkhead when the right pedal is stamped on. Sit in the 164lb ft-strong torque band at around 2000rpm and it delivers perfectly acceptable in-gear pace for a supermini.
There’s no automatic transmission option in the Sandero, and the five-speed manual isn’t a stick-shift to relish – it’s notchy in the extreme, and actually quite loud as the Renault Clio lever crashes into the next gate. First gear is, like Duster’s, incredibly short to imbue the car with some spritely get-up –and-go, and a sort of ‘low-range’ off-roading ability.
The ride is pretty bouncy, body roll is plentiful thanks to the 40mm higher stature and comfort-oriented set-up and there’s a cacophony of wind and engine noise to drown out the chuntering engine at speed. But crucially, nothing is offensively, unforgivably bad. In fact, this little car is actually supremely endearing, and (yes, it’s that word Dacia cannot be separated from again): honest. Sure, there are a few rough edges, but it’s still a well-equipped, versatile and fabulously cheap means of mobility. The cabin, as an example, looks as welcoming as Wormwood Scrubs, but it’ll probably last longer.
You can put a Dacia Sandero Stepway on your drive for £7995, if you choose the 0.9-litre petrol model. Our test car’s diesel engine costs an extra £1000, but compares favourably on the spec sheet. It’s only 0.7sec slower to 62mph (11.1sec plays 11.8sec) and has the same 104mph top speed as its green pump-sipping sister. Moreover, the 1.5dCi Stepway gets a claimed 70.6mpg to the petrol’s 52.3mpg – expect mid to high fifties for the diesel in the real world, and low 40s from the petrol.
The diesel Stepway also sits two tax bands lower thanks to a 105g/km CO2 rating. So, while both cars are free in their first year in your hands, the diesel only costs £10 to tax annually thereafter. Meanwhile, the Treasury will have £105 from you to tax the petrol one. Downsizing isn’t as cheap as you’d think…
Absolutely. ‘Ambiance’ versions like our test car get electric front windows, a CD player and radio with Bluetooth, USB and aux-in connectivity, fog lights and 16in alloys. You can splash up to £10,795 on the most loaded-up ‘Laureate model’, complete with electric rear windows, heated and folding mirrors, air-con, cruise control and rear parking sensors, plus a 7in touchscreen with sat-nav.
It’s an appealing spec, though we’d rather spend less on the cheaper model and spec a height-adjustable steering wheel and A/C as cost options. Go on, Dacia, you know it makes sense…
It’s testament to the Dacia that we repeatedly chose to take the Sandero home over test cars worth two- or even ten-times more than this £9k runaround. It’s far from advanced, refined or stylish, but it is absolutely bang on for its time. Furthermore, the diesel Stepway is the best of the bunch – once you’ve peeled those shouty stickers off.
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Dacia Sandero Stepway 1.5 dCi (2013) CAR review
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RE: Dacia Sandero Stepway 1.5 dCi (2013) CAR review
I should add I now live in france and here (the home of Renault who own Dayseeah) it is pronounced Dayseeah too!
03 August 2013 07:31
Interesting the change of pronunciation. I worked for a finance company in the 1980's and this manufacturer imported their car from Romania then. In those days it was pronounced Dayseeah!!! Why the cghange one wonders?
03 August 2013 07:29
I'd meant to add that the apparent contradiction with what I’ve written below and my previous admission to considering buying one of these is that, unlike a new Focus or 3 Series, the Sandero is so refreshingly unpretentious.
01 August 2013 16:21
@Greg218.The used against new argument works everywhere. A new Sandero or a used Subaru. A new Ford or a used BMW. A new BMW or a used Bentley, etc. Some like the idea of a virgin car, but new quickly becomes used. I’d fork out for a new i3, say, because there isn’t anything else quite like it, but the idea of buying a new Focus or 3 Series never really appeals. Look at what you would have been happy to own 5 years ago, or what you could only dream of owning 10 years ago, and search out a well kept version of that. And if it’s got the odd blemish, my own experience is that it’s far easier to put up with blemishes that other people put there, rather than ones you’ve put onto your pristine new car yourself.
01 August 2013 16:17
It is cheap and cheerful but still a decent amount of dosh new. Surely the best way is to get a Subaru that is about three years-old for less money and go on your way? It is good for someone who must buy new or lives in an area where these types of vehicles are used hard from the start and kept until they can't move any more.
01 August 2013 15:39
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