► New Sandero range kicks off at £7995
► Order now, on sale in February 2021
► Tech boost, new interior and engines
Dacia has confirmed pricing and spec details of its all-new Sandero and Stepway models. The good news for fans of the Romanian marque are that the Access entry-level version remains the cheapest new car in the UK at £7995.
The current Sandero, which has been around since 2013 in the UK, has become well-known for being the UK'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.
The latest model will be the second-generation in the UK and the third overall. It 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.
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.
‘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.’
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.’
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 top 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 such as an electric sunroof and heated seats will be available too.
When and how much?
The new Sandero and Stepway continue the value pricing of their predecessors. You can pre-order a car for £99 and you get free servicing thrown in, which usually costs £399. The range starts at £7995, which means it's still the UK's cheapest car in cash terms.
The entry-level Access model comes with LED headlights, front electric windows and a phone docking station. The mid-range Essential model (from £8995) gains air-conditioning, cruise control and remote central locking, while the range-topping Comfort (from £11,995) gets electric rear windows and an 8.0-inch central touchscreen for its infotainment system.
The SUV-style Sandero Stepway is similarly updated and launched at the same time – pricing starts at £10,995.
Check out our Dacia reviews