► Revamped Dacia Sandero tested
► Inexpensive hatch gets a new engine
► Cosmetic upgrades aim to boost appeal
The Dacia Sandero – Britain’s bargain-basement supermini – has been given a little refresh. And we mean little.
Upgrades include the usual flurry of cosmetic tweaks – namely LED daytime-running lights, restyled bumpers front and rear and some more silvery bits inside – as well as some changes to the equipment list.
The big news is the new and not-so-big 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that now powers the entry-level versions – although we drove a French-spec range-topping Laureate variant on the launch, which we won’t get in the UK.
Dacia’s new engine option is called the SCe 75; it offers 74bhp and replaces the old 74bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine of the pre-facelift Sandero.
74bhp doesn’t sound like much…
It’s not, but that’s not the end of the world in a car that’ll spend most of its time pootling around town. The new SCe 75 engine does have less torque than the old 1.2, dishing up just 72lb ft of pulling power compared to its predecessor’s 79lb ft, but we’d be surprised if you’d notice.
In downsizing, though, the Sandero’s efficiency figures have reputedly improved. Fuel consumption of 54.3mpg is claimed, while CO2 emissions of 117g/km mean VED costs £30 a year. The 1.2, for comparison, was stated to average 48.7mpg and emit 135g/km.
That said, this new triple is actually the least efficient engine in the current line-up. Worth bearing in mind, if you want the most eco-friendly Sandero out there...
What if I want to go out of town?
Then be prepared to work the engine hard. The lack of power and torque means you’ll really need to wring the 1.0-litre engine out to make anything resembling progress. It can be quite enjoyable though – there’s a growly three-cylinder engine from under the bonnet, so it’s not an entirely unpleasant experience.
In getting up to speed you’ll be giving the five-speed manual gearbox a good workout. It’s very notchy but precise enough, although there’s a long throw between ratios.
Despite all of this, the Sandero is quite an enjoyable car to hustle along a twisty road. It’s not quick, by any stretch, but its light weight and grippy chassis means it holds on through tight corners surprisingly well.
Just be prepared to cling on to the (newly-designed) steering wheel, because there’s a lot of body roll and not much lateral support from the squishy seats...
Is it better than other bargain rivals?
That depends on what you consider to be its rivals. The Sandero is the size of established superminis like the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio, but it’s the price of smaller city cars like the Suzuki Celerio and Vauxhall Viva.
That means it occupies a unique area of the market, offering impressive space for your buck – if you don’t care about what badge is on the front.
It’s not as refined as other supermini rivals like the Fiesta or Corsa, however, but in mid- or top-spec trims it has all the kit you’d want from a city runaround.
The appeal of the Sandero lies in its simplicity and its honesty. It’s not trying to be fashionable, the best to drive or the highest quality, but what it does offer is heaps of space and plenty of equipment for very little money.
So, if you don’t plan to drive on the motorways regularly and just want something to reliably and affordably get you from A to B, then take a closer look at the revamped Sandero. It might just suit you down to the ground.
Read more Dacia reviews