All-new Dacia Sandero: bargain supermini returns for new generation

Published: 29 September 2020

► The UK's cheapest car gets a makeover
► Based on Renault's latest small car platform
► Tech boost, new interior and engines

Dacia has confirmed tech and spec details of its all-new, third-generation Sandero. The Sandero hatch, Sandero Stepway soft-roader and Logan saloon have all made a full debut.

The current Sandero, which has been around since 2013 in the UK, is best-known for being the country’s cheapest new car. Since 2017, it’s been the best-selling model in Europe. The Stepway is a jacked-up variant of the hatch, with raised suspension and rugged styling albeit with limited extra capability.

What’s new?

The latest model will be the second-generation in the UK and the third overall and will sit atop the latest version of the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s CMF-B architecture – the same that underpins the excellent new Renault Clio and Captur, Micra and Juke.

Visual improvements across the range are significant. Y-shaped daytime running lights flow into the chrome bars of Dacia’s corporate grille, while external features such as the door handles have been upgraded to more modern fixtures. Auto LED headlights are standard now.

Sandero Stepway roof

As before, the Stepway model distances itself from the regular Sandero with a unique grille and lower body cladding. There's also a new 'Stepway' badge incorporated into the grille. Interestingly, the Stepway has ‘modular’ roof rails that can be turned around to make a roof rack without the need of an extra accessory.

Engine specs, please

Using the CMF-B platform has allowed Dacia greater access to the Alliance’s cleanest engines. All of them are 1.0-litres with three-cylinders in configuration; a naturally-aspirated 64bhp ‘SCe 65’ mated to a five-speed manual, a turbocharged 89bhp ‘TCe 90’ with either a six-speed manual or new CVT auto, and a turbocharged 99bhp ‘TCe 100’ model that uses petrol and LPG under Dacia’s BiFuel tagline.

Sandero twins

‘We could go hybrid, but we are targeting LPG,’ says programme director Marc Suss. ‘LPG makes more sense and here you have a very good deal for our customers. If you make calculations, it’s very affordable for the customer per kilometre; equivalent to what diesel was in the past.’

How does Dacia make it so cheap?

Well, we don’t actually have pricing yet but we’re still confident the Sandero will be a bargain. The key difference is the use of that Alliance platform; using CMF-B increases economies of scale, but Suss is keen to stress that Dacia to make it different. ‘We are now using this more modern platform, but it doesn’t mean we’re using the exact same parts as the Clio or Captur, for example. It’s the same principle for the MQB platform at VW Group – it’s a toolbox.’

Sandero front

There are some differences that help keep the Sandero’s price low. ‘NVH integration is much higher on the Clio than what we are targeting,’ Suss points out. Marketing director, Ionut Gheorghe, also makes light of other cost savings; ‘on one hand we are designing our cars to cost. It’s the way in which we are selling the cars that allows us to be quite efficient in the cost of distribution and, of course, the way in which we are producing the cars-using countries that are competitive with labour costs.’

But, in order to keep up with the competition, Dacia has upped the tech and ‘percieved quality inside.

How has Dacia made the interior better?

‘The first thing that will hit you with the new Sandero is the very contemporary design,’ adds Gheorghe, ‘we are up to the market average in terms of perceived quality now.’

Sandero interior

Dacia’s new supermini, for example, now features two different infotainment screen options. The cheaper one is a mount for your smartphone – much akin to VW Group’s Up/Citigo/Mii tactic, while mid and high-spec ones come with an eight-inch touchscreen. Go for the toppiest trim and you can add navigation.

More advanced safety equipment will be available, including blind spot monitoring, hill hold assist and more sophisticated emergency braking assistance. Tech like a reversing camera and parking sensors will be available too (like the previous generation), and plush bits like an electric sunroof and heated seats will be available too.

Sandero Stepway interior

When and how much?

Prices aren’t known yet, but we’re confident it’ll still be a bargain. The first ones arrive in February 2021.

Check out our Dacia reviews

By Jake Groves

CAR's staff writer, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches