You might want to sit down for this: the new Dacia Sandero has a reach-and-rake adjustable steering wheel. There are LED headlights, too. There’s even a touchscreen (on certain trim levels).
Okay, it’s easy to be flippant about these sorts of things, but they serve to show just how much Dacia has overhauled the Sandero. It may still be the UK’s cheapest car (prices start from £7995 and rise to our top-spec test car’s £11,595) and it’s still called the Sandero, but it’s a total contrast between this version and the last.
For starters, this car sits on the all-new CMF platform. That means it shares its underpinnings with the Renault Clio and promises greater rigidity with less weight. We’ll get to what all that means in a tick, but here’s a teaser: it’s good news.
Those new headlights, along with more LEDs at the rear, help to set this car apart from its predecessor. Although the overall dimensions remain the same, the track is a useful 41mm wider and the wheelbase is 15mm longer. Coupled with the new, sharper styling and little touches like the chrome on the grille, this makes the new Sandero less frumpy than before, bringing its style intent closer to mainstream rivals like the Skoda Fabia.
The increased wheelbase is handy because it means rear-seat passengers get more leg room, but the big news in the cabin is the frankly staggering uptick in quality. It actually looks like someone has taken some care now, whereas before it was cheap and drab.
Granted, there are no soft-touch plastics, but the padded cloth running around the cabin lifts the ambience (who ever thought we would be talking about that in a Sandero?) and even the air vents look as if they’ve had a once-over from a stylist. Previously, it seemed like it was made to look and feel cheap to hammer home the value aspect. This time, it’s a different attitude and sense of quality, and you can tell.