The bombshell has been dropped. Riding on the crest of a wave of global growth, Renault's budget brand, Dacia, arrived in the UK. And it brought with it a product to shake up the market: the inexpensive Dacia Sandero. 

Now to measure the impact crater. Is this car as appealing as the idea of it? Will it suit the roads and drivers' tastes of one of the most mature and idiosyncratic car markets in the world? Is it likely to inspire a super-low-budget supermini class of its own? Or will the unavoidable concessions of a low-cost supermini prove unpalatable, and render the Dacia an irrelevance to the likes of us? 

The range kicks off with an entry-level 1.2-litre petrol Access-trim Sandero that comes replete with grey plastic bumpers and manual door locks. 

More upmarket versions are available, with upgraded trim, more powerful engines and better kit levels, but the price predictably begins escalating to around, or above, that of more mainstream and desirable alternatives like the smaller but more appealing Skoda Citigo or the similarly sized but less well kitted out Ford Fiesta.

This is just one of the many conundrums a Sandero buyer must consider, as they juggle capability, space and badge appeal, among many other things.

So what exactly do you get when you choose to buy a Dacia Sandero – and what must you be prepared to give up? Read on to find out.

Top 5 Superminis

  • Ford Fiesta
    Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

    Ford Fiesta

    1
  • Mini Cooper
    Its various improvements make the new Mini more desirable and practical than ever before

    Mini Cooper

    2
  • Renault Clio
    Distinctive styling details are taken from the showstopping Renault Dezir concept car

    Renault Clio

    3
  • Volkswagen Polo
    The Polo is a polished, mature-feeling, spacious supermini

    Volkswagen Polo

    4
  • The Honda Jazz is an expensive small car, especially the hybrid version

    Honda Jazz

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Dacia range

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    3 September 2015
    First UK test of Fiat's best-selling city car, which has been overhauled for 2015
  • First Drive
    3 September 2015
    Volkswagen reveals the second generation of its high-riding Passat Alltrack estate. We drive it for the first time on German roads.
  • First Drive
    2 September 2015
    Kia facelifts its Cee'd and drops its six-speed torque converter in favour of a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox in the process. We drive it for the first time
  • First Drive
    1 September 2015
    Kia has developed a better-mannered, more sophisticated Sportage for 2016
  • First Drive
    31 August 2015
    Thought the 3 Series was losing its edge? Well it's back, with a facelifted version that offers improved performance and dynamics. Does it reclaim its top spot after our drive on UK roads?