What is it?

This – almost – is the Sandero version that really has the accolade of 'cheapest car you can buy in Britain'. It has an oldish-tech 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine instead of the clever, nominally more economical, 898cc turbo three-pot which powered the top-spec Sandero Laureate we've already covered, and loses some of the toys we used to manage so well without. In entry-level Access guise it really does cost just £5995.

We've now driven the Sandero closest to the Access model that Renault/Dacia would let us near. It's the 1.2 Ambiance pictured here, but if you delete the paint on the bumpers, the trims over the 15in steel wheels, the electric front windows, the central locking, the radio/CD player and the chrome vent and instrument rings, you'd have an Access and would have saved £600 (some of which you might want to spend on a radio). It's available only in white, with naked plastic bumpers, but it's an odd pleasure to see perforated steel wheels on show with neat hubcaps in the centre.

What is it like?

The Ambiance has wind-up rear windows and, like the Access, a two-tone dashboard which livens up the interior (the Laureate and Stepway are monochrome dark grey here). These low-spec Sanderos also share a lack of air-con and seat-height adjustment, and a simple, button-free steering wheel. Actually, the cabin's simplicity and relative non-adjustability is curiously calming. This is a simple car which just works.

The 1.2-litre engine feels a touch overwhelmed by its task, and passes through several mild resonances as the revs rise, but once up to speed this Sandero cruises quietly enough. It has an easy gearchange, progressive brakes and a calmer ride than the TCe 90 version, lolloping serenely over bumps in the way small French cars used to do. It steers more precisely, too; reduced weight over the front wheels is why.

Should I buy one?

This is a simple car which works very well, without the loose, pre-aged feel of the old Sandero that the UK never got. It's amazingly cheap, albeit with no discounts available, but a 14.5sec 0-62mph time might be a sacrifice too far. It's hard to imagine many buyers going for the one-colour, radio-less Access but £6595 buys you an Ambiance which gives you all you need. Except air-con and pace.

Dacia Sandero 1.2 16V 75

Price £5995; 0-62mph 14.5sec; Top speed 97mph; Economy 48.7mpg; CO2 135g/km; Engine 1149cc, four-cylinder, petrol; Kerb weight 941kg; Power 74bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 79lb ft at 4250rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual

John Simister

Join the debate


It will sell...

1 year 47 weeks ago

Despite its lack of radio et all. I only listen to the radio/cd/usb media/whatever on a long journey. It is hardly an essential, fine criticise on a BMW costing 10 times the amount.

If it gets you from a to b reliably, I doubt the admittedly slow acceleration will deter people, personally it will be the lack of overtaking ability that is the killer. The crash rating as others have said, could be better. etc etc etc

It can only make you wonder : when this car is shall we say 90% complete that we pay 100% more for the missing 10%.

A car for normal use.

1 year 47 weeks ago

A 0 to 60 time of 14.5 seconds may seen slow to journalists provided with the free use of expensive high powered cars but to many car drivers in the UK it would be adequate.

I owned an 1978 automatic mini for 7 years it had a 0 to 60 time of almost 30 seconds with a top speed of about 75 mph. Yes depressingly slow on motorways and fast A roads but perfectly allright for local motoring.


I'm surprised at the mention

1 year 47 weeks ago

I'm surprised at the mention of the 1.2 riding better than the 0.9 engined model. I thought these new 3 pot turbo engines were pretty light-weight.

Considering that a basic spec

1 year 47 weeks ago

Considering that a basic spec Polo 1.2 has a  0-60 time of 16.1 secs (VW official figures) and the 3 door S (bottom of the range) starts at £9990, is this Dacia really that bad, and how may basic spec are they expecting to sell when the next step up is only a little bit more, I suspect very few.

'cheapest car you can buy in Britain'

1 year 47 weeks ago

'cheapest car you can buy in Britain' ?

I bought my car for 1400 quid. Beat that Dacia!

Breaking the taboo!

1 year 47 weeks ago

There was no need for slagging the poor Sandero for managing to crawl up to 62mph in 14.5 seconds.

Entry level Ford Fiesta hauls itself to 62mph in 16.9 seconds. The best sold 82bhp manages the same in an unhurried 13.3 seconds.

A VW entry level Polo does the same in 16 seconds. Up! in a slightly less remarkable 14.4 seconds.

The all-new and admittedly very stylish Peugeot 208 needs 15.9 seconds to get up to 62mph.

A similarly bland-looking Skoda Fabia in 14.9 seconds and the Rapid in a not-so-rapid 13.9 seconds.

Please note that all these cars cost almost twice as much as Sandero.

There's no need to pick on poor relation from Romania!

The cheapest Renault Kangoo is £8,950...................

1 year 47 weeks ago


Which makes this something of a bargain for a round town delivery vehicle.


0-60 no worries

1 year 47 weeks ago

For much of the time, we don't need 0-60 anyway.  0-30 or 0-40 maybe as those are the limits in which we are constantly operating.  I have use of a 55bhp Polo and really have no problem with its acceleration in town and country roads.  I find it is actually quite enjoyable to drive a low-powered car, reading the road well and keeping up a good pace, all easily within the law.  Thrift on four wheels.

"Exceptionally slow" ..? Give over

1 year 47 weeks ago

would love to expand on fadyady's list of cars that Autocar writers ejaculate over each time they appear in print but which are notably slower than this not particularly slow Dacia.

Just coz it's £5,995 doesn't mean you HAVE to find something wrong with it.

Maybe it's time to put Simister out to pasture? He's clearly had so many BMW bought lunches while at The Independent that his notion of quick/slow has been bent all out of shape.

An entry-level Fiesta's

1 year 47 weeks ago

An entry-level Fiesta's slower, as is a basic Polo, 208, C3, Corsa, etc.

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Our Verdict

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

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