Mark Tisshaw
25 February 2013

What is it?

Britain’s cheapest new car in an engine/trim combination that adds almost 50 per cent to the cost of a £5995 basic version. Ambiance trim is actually the mid-level trim behind Laureate and above Access, but with a few options boxes ticked like on our test car, the price nudges closer to Ford Fiesta territory.

This model comes equipped with the most expensive but also most frugal engine in the Dacia Sandero range, the 1.5-litre turbodiesel familiar from the all-new Renault Clio. Its combined mpg is in the 70s and CO2 emissions dip below the 100g/km, the only Sandero to do so. The engine can only be found in Dacia's Ambiance and Laureate trims.

Leave the option boxes alone and the Ambiance dCi 90 will set you back £8395, or go for metallic paint and 15inch alloys as with our test car and the price nudges north of £9000.

What is it like?

Pretty good, as far as Sanderos go. Our experiences with other engines and trims so far have revealed a car with dynamics and performance you could describe as no more than adequate, and quality and comfort you’d rate no higher than acceptable.

Of course, whether these traits make a good car or not depends on how much you spend on a Sandero. Adequate and acceptable are fine when you’re spending less than £6000, much more so when you’re spending more than £10,000.

This £8395 price sits nicely next to this Sandero. With the sophisticated engine, strong equipment levels and smartened-up appearance inside and out, it feels true to Dacia’s good value ethos rather than being elevated into an arena it’d struggle to compete in.

Performance from the 1.5-litre turbodiesel is strong, spinning freely and with plenty of low-end grunt. It’s quite noisy above 3000rpm though, and the gearshift is notchy. Tall gear ratios aid fuel economy; we returned more than 60mpg on a gentle motorway run.

The handling is fairly crisp, turn-in decent, although it never feels planted and grip levels aren’t the strongest. The ride is one of the stronger points, there’s plenty of suspension travel, although the secondary ride does suffer with the heavier alloy wheels rather than the steel wheels fitted to lesser Sanderos.

The steering wheel is fixed and the seat doesn’t adjust for height, so finding a decent driving position depends on how tall you are and how close you like the wheel to your chest. If your height and shape works with the default Sandero set-up then lucky you, if not then you might have some achey limbs at the end of a long journey.

The Ambiance trim is nicely appointed. Painting the bumpers the same shade as the body helps lift the model’s appeal no end over the Access. You also get electric front windows, remote central locking a 60/40 split rear seat, a radio with USB and AUX-in connectors and even some chrome trim as part of the Ambiance trim. 

Should I buy one?

The £5995 Dacia Sandero will be too spartan and rugged for most tastes; the more expensive £10,000-plus examples go against the Sandero’s ethos and forces it to line up against cars with perhaps less equipment, but considerably more grown-up and sophisticated road manners.

So this Sandero would appear to be a happy medium in the range. Performance and economy are good, and while the quality, refinement and dynamics remain no match at all for a Fiesta, the cheery looks and equipment levels help add up to make a car with plenty more good than bad, particularly if you leave those option boxes unticked. 

Dacia Sandero Ambiance dCi 90

Price £8395; Price as tested £9290; 0-62mph 12.1sec; Top speed 107mph; Economy 74.3mpg; CO2 99g/km; Kerb weight 1033kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1461cc, turbodiesel; Power 89bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 162lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 5spd manual 

 

Join the debate

Comments
12

Dacias whole range just

1 year 25 weeks ago

Dacias whole range just underlines the truth of "you get what you pay for".  OK, its a perfectly adequate method of transport that is cheaper than its competitors. But its also not as good as them. Which is why its cheaper.

As someone who enjoys driving and likes cars I would'nt touch the current crop of Dacias with a very long pole. There is a fairly long list of 1-2 year old cars I'd buy instead.

This always was going to be

1 year 25 weeks ago

This always was going to be the sweet spot in the range and I would think Dacia / Renault knew that, especially for the UK market.

Personally, I'd still rather go for the base model though.

 

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Aircon?

1 year 25 weeks ago

I could live without many things in a car, but air conditioning isn't one of them, yet it's not even an option on this mid range model.That could put a lot of people off, or push them to the top spec model. Maybe that's what Dacia want....

Happy medium in the range

1 year 25 weeks ago

£8,395 for a brand new diesel car that is easily capable of 60mpg and more when driven by a private owner is incredible value.

I can't think of any car that comes close. Whatcar puts the car's real mpg at 60mpg against 50mpg for a 1.6L VW diesel in VW Golf.

To draw this brand new car's comparison with a two year old car from any well known brand is misleading and far from fair.

Very few two-year olds will give you zero road tax, and none will give you 3-year manufacturer warranty.

fadyady wrote: £8,395 for a

1 year 25 weeks ago

fadyady wrote:

£8,395 for a brand new diesel car that is easily capable of 60mpg and more when driven by a private owner is incredible value.

I can't think of any car that comes close. Whatcar puts the car's real mpg at 60mpg against 50mpg for a 1.6L VW diesel in VW Golf.

To draw this brand new car's comparison with a two year old car from any well known brand is misleading and far from fair.

Very few two-year olds will give you zero road tax, and none will give you 3-year manufacturer warranty.

 

Cant argue with much of that.  But most rival 2 year old cars will be more enjoyable to drive and many will be better built. As a car for people who need transport but dont car if the car is actually any good or not, then this ideal.  As a car for someone who enjoys driving let alone a car enthusiast this is no better than any other budget car based on old tech (engine aside on this model)  that has been launched over the years

fadyady wrote:Very few

1 year 25 weeks ago

fadyady wrote:

Very few two-year olds will give you zero road tax, and none will give you 3-year manufacturer warranty.

I'm with Teg - I think these make more sense at the base model level.

I don't think you'd have too much trouble getting a two year old low mileage Hyundai (i20 or i30) or Kia Cee'd diesel with at least 3 years remaining manufacturer's warranty for the same price as a new Dacia.

These offer similar real world economy, better build quality and far better equipment. Pretty decent drive to boot, if not quite as engaging as a Focus.

Just sayin'

Heavy wheels?

1 year 25 weeks ago

Surely as a general rule alloy wheels are lighter than steel ones, not heavier. Isn't that basically the point of them?

Freedom Of Choice ...

1 year 25 weeks ago

Regardless of whether a nicely-specced up Dacia invades base Ford Fiesta territory, it all boils down to personal choice and what you want from a car (and also whether you like the look of it) ... Personally, I much prefer the honest and rugged looks of the Dacia (especially the 'Stepway' variant) compared to the flimsy, ghastly Fiesta and its interior, which I saw one reviewer take issue with with regards build quality, wobbling the centre console to make his point ...

Aluminium wheels bought for lightness?

1 year 25 weeks ago

PeterA5145 wrote:

Surely as a general rule alloy wheels are lighter than steel ones, not heavier. Isn't that basically the point of them?

I expect Aluminium wheels are often heavier than steel and surely they are mainly bought for looks not weight. Just like their "spokes" are designed for looks/fashion not practicality or strength. and especially not for ease of cleaning.

The price of this car is still very cheap, £8400 is mid range C1 5 door discounted prices let alone Fiesta's.

maxecat

RE: Granturismo and MrJOD

1 year 25 weeks ago

I understand what you're saying and I respect that. There's merit in both yours points of view.

I don't want to come across as confrontative but this Dacia model is not without merit.

I said: "Very few two-year olds will give you zero road tax, and none will give you 3-year manufacturer warranty." And I stand by it.

Kia and Hyundai launched zero VED models only last year. So you won't find any two-year olds in Band A.

You'll be surprised how few diesels were there two years ago in VED Band A. Now we have petrols in Band A.

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Our Verdict

The Sandero represents basic motoring done well, for those who really want it

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