Dacia Sandero (2013 - present)

Cut-price Dacia Sandero is the cheapest new car on sale in the UK

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

No-frills charm
Very good value
Efficient diesel engine

Weaknesses 

Four-star safety rating
Cheap and dated interior
High-spec version has serious rivals
Best New Discount

Dacia Sandero Diesel Hatchback 1.5 dci laureate 5dr

Total RRP £11,322

Your quote £11,322

You Save £0

The Dacia Sandero made headlines when it arrived back in 2013 as the UK’s cheapest new car, selling for a fiver under £6,000. Although the name may not be familiar, this Romanian brand is actually owned by Renault, and the Sandero is based on technology used in previous generations of the Renault Clio supermini.

Price is one big selling point of the Sandero, but the other is space. It has a large boot and plenty of room inside for adult passengers front and rear – not something that can be said for the small city cars like the Peugeot 108, Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1 and Renault Twingo that cost around the same as a mid-range Sandero. Size-wise, the Dacia is closer to the more expensive Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Skoda Fabia.

The very cheapest Sandero lacks all but the most basic equipment and has a dated, underpowered petrol engine. The real value is actually to be found at the top of the range, where you can get an efficient diesel engine and heaps of standard kit for the same price as poorly equipped entry-level versions of rival cars.

Whatever version you go for, the Sandero betrays its less than cutting-edge underpinnings when you hit the road: its gearshift is a bit clunky, the steering feels vague and the body leans a lot when you go around a corner. The ride is at least comfortable, however, which is good news for those tackling the UK’s speed-bump and pothole-infested roads. The interior is also pretty basic and feels cheap, while the seats aren’t very supportive – especially on a long journey. Another drawback is safety: a dated design meant the Sandero missed out on Euro NCAP’s maximum five-star score, having to settle instead for four.

These shortcomings have to be viewed in the context of the Sandero’s very low price, however: it opens up the possibility of new car ownership to people who may not otherwise be able to afford it, and if you’re trading up from a ten-year-old car, it’ll feel like a leap forward.

Last Updated 

Friday, September 16, 2016 - 09:00

Key facts 

Warranty: 
3 years / 60,000 miles
Boot size: 
320 litres
Width: 
1733mm
Length: 
4050mm
Height: 
1518mm
Tax : 
£0 to £110

Best Dacia Sandero for... 

Dacia Sandero 1.5 dCi Ambiance
The diesel-engined Sandero is the only version that’s fully exempt from road tax and also by far the most economical of the three engines on offer, returning over 80mpg if driven gently.
Dacia Sandero 1.5 dCi Laureate
Unlike many cars, the Sandero is actually at its best in its most expensive form: the 1.5-litre diesel engine has the lowest running costs in the range and Laureate trim gives you lots of goodies for the same price as the bare-bones entry-level versions of most superminis.
Dacia Sandero 0.9 TCe Ambiance
The little turbocharged 900cc engine is the best performer in the Sandero range, getting the car from 0-62mph in just over 11.1 seconds. This is a far from sporty car, though, as it rolls about quite a lot in corners and doesn’t have very responsive steering.
Dacia Sandero 1.2 16V 75 Access
Although this is the version responsible for the Sandero’s headline £5,995 starting price, it’s not very appealing, with no air-conditioning, bare steel wheels and black plastic bumpers. You also can’t get the more efficient diesel engine with this trim level.

Dacia Sandero History 

  • February 2013 Goes on sale as cheapest new car in UK
  • September 2014 Limited-edition Sandero Midnight offered
  • March 2015 Another special edition, Laureate Prime, joins range
  • August 2015 Engines improved to meet latest EU6 emissions rules

Understanding Dacia Sandero car names 

  • Sandero
  • Engine
    0.9 TCe
  • Trim
    Laureate
  • Engine
    The engine size is given in litres (here it's 0.9) and petrol cars are badged TCe. Diesel engines carry the letters dCi.
  • Trim
    The trim level dictates how much equipment comes as standard. The Sandero starts with the spartan Access, moving up to Ambiance and then Laureate.

Dacia Sandero Engines 

1.2, 0.9 TCe (petrol); 1.5 dCi (diesel)

The very cheapest Dacia Sandero Access and the mid-range Ambiance spec are offered with a rather dated 1.2-litre petrol engine that produces a modest 72bhp. It’s both slow and inefficient, so unless the lowest possible purchase price is your priority, we’d definitely recommend avoiding it and going for either the turbocharged petrol or very efficient diesel.

Both produce 89bhp, but the petrol is a second faster from 0-62mph. You don’t have to rev the diesel as hard to make use of its full power, though, so the petrol ends up feeling a bit frantic at motorway speeds or going up a steep hill. If you regularly cover long distances, the diesel is a better bet. Its chief attractions are a very impressive 80.7mpg fuel-economy figure and zero road tax thanks to sub-99g/km emissions.

As the Sandero focuses primarily on simplicity and affordability, you can’t get one with an automatic gearbox or any kind of hybrid or electric drivetrain.

Fuel

Mpg

Bhp

0 - 62mph

top speed

1.2

Petrol

48.7mpg

72bhp

14.5s

101mph

0.9 TCe

Petrol

57.6mpg

89bhp

11.1s

109mph

1.5 dCi

Diesel

80.7mpg

89bhp

12.1s

107mph

Dacia Sandero Trims 

Access, Ambiance, Laureate

The Dacia Sandero Access is the cheapest new car on sale in the UK today, but it both looks and feels it: There’s no air-conditioning, no radio, no central locking and no wheel covers, while the bumpers are unpainted black plastic and there are manual wind-down windows all round. You can have the Sandero Access in any colour (as long as it’s white) but it does at least include essential safety kit such as anti-lock brakes, airbags, traction control, stability control and tyre-pressure monitoring, plus a 60:40 split-folding rear seat and power steering.

The mid-range Ambiance gives you plastic wheel trims, body-coloured bumpers, chrome interior trim pieces, rear headrests, central locking, a boot light, electric front windows and a two-speaker stereo with Bluetooth connectivity and connection ports for MP3 players – plus the availability of the more powerful and efficient 1.5-litre diesel and 0.9-litre petrol engines.

At the top of the range is the Laureate, which is priced to compete with the very cheapest versions of superminis like the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta. It gets 15-inch alloy wheels, a chrome front grille, graphite interior trim, a leather gearknob, an onboard trip computer, cruise control, front foglights, power-adjustable heated door mirrors, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, air-conditioning and a four-speaker stereo.

Dacia Sandero Reliability and warranty 

As the Sandero is such a basic car, using tried-and-tested parts, there’s very little to go wrong with it. This was reflected in a 29th-place rating for reliability (out of 200 cars) in the 2015 edition of Auto Express magazine’s Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. The Sandero is also undeniably built down to a price, however, so there are concerns about the long-term durability of its interior materials, reflected in a less impressive 123rd-place score for this attribute. In terms of warranty, you get a pretty standard three years and 60,000 miles of cover, although extended warranties are available at extra cost.

Used Dacia Sandero 

The Sandero is available new for the kind of money many people would typically spend on a secondhand car. That means it doesn’t have a great deal of value in the first place to lose on the used market, making a secondhand Sandero perhaps less of a bargain buy than you may have thought.

The obvious route is to seek out a top-spec Laureate model, possibly with a few optional extras, to make sure you’re getting the absolute most possible for your money. Make sure you get one that’s been well looked after, too – with the Sandero being so cheap, some people may have bought one as an almost disposable runabout and not taken care to keep the interior and exterior in good condition. And a full service history is as important on an ultra-cheap car like this as it is on flashy BMW or Mercedes.

In percentage terms, the Sandero actually holds its value a lot better than many more expensive cars – it’s still worth about 60% of its list price after three years of ownership, even with the manufacturer warranty about to run out. 

List price

BuyaCar new

1 year old

2 years old

3 years old

Best for performance

Price

£7,595

£7,567

£5,780

£5,095

£4,565

Dacia SANDERO 0.9 TCe Ambiance 5dr [Start Stop] hatchback

Save

0.3%

24%

33%

40%

Best for families

Price

£9,795

£9,679

£8,405

£7,445

£6,630

Dacia SANDERO 1.5 dCi Laureate 5dr diesel hatchback

Save

1%

14%

24%

32%

Best for economy

Price

£8,595

£8,527

£7,285

£6,460

£5,725

Dacia SANDERO 1.5 dCi Ambiance 5dr diesel hatchback

Save

0.8%

15%

25%

33%

Dacia Sandero Prices

Dacia Sandero Ambiance

0.9 tce ambiance 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 57.6mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £8,794

1.0 sce ambiance 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 54.3mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £8,010

1.5 dci ambiance 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel diesel
  • Economy 80.7mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £10,342

Dacia Sandero Laureate

0.9 tce laureate 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 57.6mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £9,774

1.0 sce laureate 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 54.3mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £8,990

1.5 dci laureate 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel diesel
  • Economy 80.7mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £11,322