The top gong was given to the latest version of the Romanian company’s budget supermini, which is available from £7995 - more than half the price of the cheapest Ford Fiesta.
Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: “The Sandero’s price is scarcely believable when you consider that our expert testing has shown it to be the equal of or better than most of its higher-priced rivals. In the eyes of our test team, it stood out for being delightfully comfortable, incredibly spacious and for its suite of modern safety aids and technology.”
Dacia also scooped a category runner-up prize in the family SUV sector, with the Duster named as the best for value. The Volvo XC40 won that overall category, with the new Kia Sorento hybrid scooping the large SUV category and the Ford Puma (2020's overall Car of the Year) awarded Small SUV of the Year.
The Puma won again in ST form, scooping Sports SUV of the Year after beating vastly pricier models from BMW and Porsche.
Further wins included a five-gong streak for BMW, with plug-in hybrid versions of the 3 Series, 5 Series and X5 topping the Executive Car, Luxury Car and Luxury SUV categories respectively. The 4 Series in 420i M Sport form won Coupé of the Year, with the X6 taking best Coupé SUV.
The Volkswagen Group also had a number of key wins, with the Seat Leon awarded Family Car of the Year, the Skoda Octavia iV awarded Plug-in Hybrid Car of the Year, the Skoda Superb named best estate and the Volkswagen Touran best MPV.
The Volkswagen ID 3 took the Small Electric Car category win, too, and Porsche claimed two victories: Sports Car of the Year for the 718 Cayman GTS and Performance Car of the Year for the Taycan 4S EV.