Dacia Sandero: Renault brings its first cheap Logan-based car to the UK
A Dacia? In the UK? You'd better believe it. Renault announced at Frankfurt that it would start importing the cheap 'n' cheerful Dacia brand to the UK, and other western European markets, by the end of the decade. The Sandero will be the first Dacia to be sold in the UK, and although not on show at Renault's stand, CAR Online was given a sneak preview of the new Logan-based hatch. As you can see from the photos, it's a neat design, smarter than the Logan world car upon which it's based - but still without pretensions. Interestingly, Renault design chief Patrick le Quement told us it was the company's first car to be designed digitally in its entirety, missing out on the usual modelling stage. Result? A quicker design phase - and considerably cheaper, too, saving at least 35 percent of his budget. 'The Sandero was a challenge; we managed to make that car with a very small budget. And doing it digitally means we had a very smooth project liasing with the engineers, who have access to everything we do at every step. We have learned a lot from developing this car.'
How cheap are we talking here?
No prices have been fixed yet, but the five-door Sandero will be built in low-cost South America; further factories around the world could build it if demand is high enough. UK officials suggest a price around the £5000-6000 mark. And Renault is likely to import cheaper Logan estates or pick-ups to the UK too. So the Sandero will undercut the cheapest Clios and compete head-on with the cheapest cars from Korea and Malaysia, as well as the swelling ranks of European small cars. Renault is working out a launch strategy for Dacia in Europe and deciding whether to sell the cars from stanadlone dealers (the expensive choice), areas within existing Renault dealers (the cheap way) or online (the brave way). There's even talk of novel marketing activities, such as selling them at football stadia.
What's the quality like?
We haven't been allowed to pore all over the Sandero yet, but it's a neat, inoffensive design. And it's been developed with 1.6 petrol and 1.5 dCi diesel engines, capable of running on clean flex-fuels such as E85 (as you'd expect from a South American developed car). Being based on the Logan's B0 platform suggests the Sandero will be a robust, decent-handling and roomy five-door. It's 4020mm long and has a 320-litre boot. Could be just the ticket to expand Renault's brand downmarket without harming its image.