Dacia Sandero Review
The Dacia Sandero is one of the cheapest cars in Britain, and is great value as a result - whether as a new or used purchase
Strengths & weaknesses
The Dacia Sandero has built a reputation for itself over previous generations as being a very cheap car that’s still good to drive, comfortable and well-equipped. This new model builds on that with a fantastic amount of modern tech in the cabin and while the price has crept up, it still represents excellent value for money and is one of the UK's very cheapest new cars.
The Sandero is a supermini, which means it’s about the same size as a Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo, yet it costs much less than either of those models. In price terms it's more aligned with cars in the class below; much smaller city cars such as the Volkswagen Up and Kia Picanto.
That means it has rivals that are generally smaller in size and with only two passenger doors in some cases - so practicality is a strong point, too. One of the key things to consider with the Sandero is that you can get a new or nearly new model for around the same price as a used version of an equivalent size supermini such as a Ford Fiesta that’s a couple of years old.
There are manual and automatic models but all versions of this generation of Sandero are petrol-powered. You can get versions compatible with LPG, which is a type of fuel that costs less to buy and may be appealing - but not all petrol stations have it, so most will opt for the simpler petrol-only models.
There is also a model called the Dacia Sandero Stepway. This is a more SUV-like version with a raised ride height, which we’ve covered in a separate review. This model is a little bit more expensive, so if you're just after the best value option it won't make sense, but you might prefer the way it looks.
Read on below to find out more about the Dacia Sandero and to decide whether it’s right for you or if it's worth spending more on one of the small car alternatives.
Should I get a Dacia Sandero?
✔ Excellent value for money
✔ Comfortable and easy to drive
✔ Roomy interior and big boot for the money
✘ Base models are very Spartan
✘ Not as fun to drive as some alternatives
✘ Limited choice of engines
The Dacia Sandero is well worth considering if you’re after a small but practical car and want to get the most out of a small budget. As long as you go for the higher-spec models, it has as much equipment as we’ve come to expect of far more expensive cars, yet it’s still very affordable and both comfortable and pleasant to drive.
Its main competition comes from older used models, though - for example, a used Ford Fiesta is far better to drive but just as well equipped and comfortable. The question there becomes about the warranty cover and the value of owning a newer car, which is more achievable with the Dacia.
The Sandero has its own charm, though, and as long as you don’t mind the cheap-feeling interior, it’s great value for money, enabling you to get a newer car than you might expect for your budget or allowing you to potentially access a higher-specification model.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Best Dacia Sandero for...
- Boot space
- Should I buy used?
The Dacia Sandero is a supermini with five doors. It’s about the size of a Ford Fiesta and has a hatchback boot, despite the fact that it costs around the same as a much smaller three-door Fiat 500 city car, for example.
This generation of Sandero comes with petrol engines only, although there are also ‘Bi-Fuel’ models that can run on LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) for reduced running costs. It's worth checking that local fuel stations have this before committing to getting one, though, to be confident you can regularly benefit from the lower fuel cost of LPG. Most versions are manual but there’s a top-spec automatic model if you want or need a car without a clutch pedal.
Dacia Sandero Stepway
The Dacia Sandero Stepway is a raised-up SUV-like version of the Sandero. It uses all the same engines and gearboxes, plus it has the same equipment and even feels very similar to drive. We’ve reviewed it separately, though it’s worth mentioning here that the Stepway exists because many drivers will be drawn to its crossover-style looks.
It’s a bit pricier than the normal Sandero, though, and since it’s no more practical or well-equipped, it’s not quite as good value overall. Considering the Sandero's main selling point is its low price, if you want to make the most sensible purchase, stick with the standard car and you'll get more car for your money.
|Limited stock: While it’s no longer available new, there was initially an entry-level Access trim level. It was super basic and Access models will be rare as a result, but you’re not missing much - it only came with bare steel wheels, but did get AEB, a speed limiter, electric front windows, a USB port and a phone holder on the dash.
|From £6,066: The Essential trim comes with hubcaps for the steel wheels, body-coloured bumpers, a split-folding rear bench, cruise control, air-conditioning, central locking and a media system on the dash including a digital radio and Bluetooth.
|From £7,989: We reckon the top-spec Comfort model is the best value and comes with fog lights, keyless entry, automatic wipers, parking sensors, a reversing camera and a media system with sat-nav, smartphone connectivity and an upgraded stereo.
There are three engine options but there’s a clear favourite in the range, which is the TCe 90 model. All engines are petrol but this is a turbocharged motor and it’s available with a manual or automatic gearbox; the manual is better value but the automatic will be useful for some drivers who can justify the additional cost.
The TCe 90 has 90hp and goes from 0-62mph in 11.7 seconds in manual form, which is acceptable for a non-sporty car of this type. This is in contrast to the SCe 65 model, which only has 65hp and it takes a lengthy 16.7 seconds to do the same, which shows how much slower it is. However, this version is likely to be cheaper to insure for young drivers.
There’s also a ‘Bi-Fuel’ model, though this is a niche choice because most petrol stations don’t stock this fuel. It could be a good option for keeping running costs low if you live close to several filling stations with LPG and are confident you can make it work, though.
There isn’t a great deal of choice in the Dacia Sandero range, as it’s petrol only. However, there are different options to suit those who need them, such as an automatic model and even an LPG-powered version.
The trim levels from new are Essential and Comfort only, though Dacia previously sold a model called Access that was even more stripped-back and very basic inside. Here are our recommendations for a handful of typical drivers.
|Dacia Sandero TCe 90 Comfort: The Comfort trim level is actually the top-spec trim but it comes with lots of excellent modern tech and is hardly expensive - it’s still one of the cheapest new cars you can buy. The TCe 90 engine is the best option, too, as it makes driving more relaxing.
|Dacia Sandero TCe 90 Comfort Auto: If you’re driving the kids to school in heavy traffic then you might prefer the automatic model. It’s slower than the TCe 90 in manual form but it should be more relaxing and comfortable in rush hour.
|Dacia Sandero TCe 100 Bi-Fuel Essential: The LPG-equipped model is actually the most powerful version of the Sandero but it’s not sporty at all and if performance is a factor in your buying decision at all then a Sandero isn’t for you; you'll want to try something like a Ford Fiesta instead.
|Dacia Sandero SCe 65 Access: We’d avoid the most basic model in the Sandero range. It’s no longer available new, but even as a used car it’s not worth it - there’s very little equipment and for only a little more cash you can get into a much better-equipped car.
The Dacia Sandero is the same price as many city cars, yet it’s the size and shape of a larger supermini. This means it has various rivals to consider, both used and new.
If you’re only considering models that are new or nearly new then the Sandero is a rival for cars such as the Fiat 500, Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10. These models are smaller and less practical than the Dacia.
If you are also considering used models then the Dacia is a rival for superminis such as the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Hyundai i20 and Skoda Fabia. These models will be a few years older than a Sandero at the same price, but all are better to drive and feel higher quality than the Dacia, as you might expect.
Dacia Sandero practicality: dimensions and boot space
The Dacia Sandero is around 4.1m long, 1.8m wide and 1.5m tall. You can read more about its dimensions in the article linked to below, but to put that into context, it’s larger than a Ford Fiesta by a few centimetres in every direction. This means it’s much larger than similarly priced city car rivals such as the Kia Picanto, too.
As a result, it’s one of the most spacious options there is at this kind of price. There’s enough room in the rear seats for adults, which isn’t common in small cars, and kids will have plenty of space in the back row. Access is good, too, because there are rear doors - again, not always the case for small cars.
|Weight 1,015kg - 1,160kg
The Dacia Sandero has a 328-litre boot that expands to 1,108 litres with the rear seats folded down. This is far bigger than the tiny boots in cars such as the Hyundai i10, and even if you move up to a car in the class above, the Sandero is roomy. The Ford Fiesta has a 292-litre boot with the rear seats in place and that expands to 1,093 litres with them down.
Because the Sandero’s boot is wide and square, it’s even more practical than it looks on paper. It’s one of the strongest points of this small car and is a big part of why we consider it to be great value - whether you're planning on carrying lots of passengers or luggage.
|Seats up 328 litres
|Seats down 1,108 litres
The Dacia Sandero is based on parts used by previous Renault models including the Clio, which is a popular car and parts availability should be good. No serious faults have been reported so far, though this model arrived in 2021 so it’s still fairly new.
However, Dacia owners reported in the 2021 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey that they were not very pleased with the ownership experience. The brand came 27th in the manufacturer section of the poll, which is just two places up from the bottom of the list.
The Dacia Sandero gets a normal warranty that covers it for three years or 60,000 miles. This is standard for most new cars, but it’s worth remembering that many owners will be comparing it to a used model. For example, you might consider a Ford Fiesta that’s a year or two old as a rival for the Sandero.
This Fiesta would only have up to two years’ manufacturer warranty left, plus there may be unforeseen issues relating to the first year of ownership. This is the reason why the Dacia feels like a bit of a trade-off, as you get more peace of mind with a newer model for the money, but the Fiesta is a better car overall.
The Dacia Sandero makes the most sense to people who have a small budget and who want a new or nearly new car with lots of warranty left, as much modern tech as possible and need something practical as well. That describes rather a lot of car buyers, so the Sandero is a great choice.
It’s not as good to drive as a used Ford Fiesta, nor is it as fast or economical. Yet it’s more practical than cars costing much more and even comes with lots of kit such as smartphone connectivity and keyless entry. It’s comfortable too, so even though it’s not as enjoyable as most other options at this price, it’s still good to drive.
The Sandero is at its best if you move up into a higher-trim version because the lesser models are rather sparsely equipped and the lower-powered engines make it really slow. These models might be less good for younger drivers looking for cheap car insurance, though.
The best all-round model to choose is a TCe 90 in Comfort trim. This is the best engine, as it has adequate performance and economy for a reasonable price, and the top-spec trim offers modern tech such as autonomous emergency braking, a reversing camera and keyless entry.
A model fitted with the SCe 65 engine isn’t ideal for most drivers as this engine lacks performance. It’s economical, though, and will be cheap to insure. Just make sure you choose a version with the equipment you want, such as this Comfort trim level.
If you live near a petrol station that stocks LPG, then the Bi-Fuel TCe 100 model might be worth considering. It’s not a common choice, as this fuel is more niche in appeal than petrol or diesel, but it’s cheaper to buy and will keep running costs low. It provides good performance, too, as it has 100hp.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example
|APR rates available
|Cash price £12,000
|Value of loan
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12
|Annual mileage of 8,000pa
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55
|Term 48 months
|Optional final payment £4,285.79
|Loan value £12,000
|Total amount payable £14,755.55
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.
Want rock-bottom PCP finance or cash prices? The Dacia Sandero is the UK's cheapest new car
After rock bottom cash or finance prices, but want a high driving position and SUV feel? This is your car