You mean ‘what on earth is a new £6000 supermini like on the road in 2012?’ The answer will have to wait, because Renault didn’t make any £5995, 74bhp, 1.2-litre Sandero Access models available for us to test on the international press launch.
It did confirm an equipment level for the bottom-rung model, though. Those wanting to spend exactly £5995 will get power steering, split folding rear seats, electronic stability control and ISOFIX child seat anchorages. But they’ll also get white paint (whether they like it or not), black plastic bumpers and body trim, old-fashioned door locks, no alarm, and a blank on the fascia where the radio would otherwise be.
Automotive austerity gets a new hero in the UK in 2013, in the shape of a car that comes on 15in steel wheels – without wheel trims.
Instead of that car, though, Dacia gave us a Sandero in range-topping Laureate trim to test, which it expects to account for more than 60 per cent of the UK mix. Laureates start from £7995 and – on the equipment list at any rate – smack much less of the bare necessities. You get USB and auxiliary audio connections for your sound system – not to mention the sound system in the first place – as well as electric windows, air conditioning, remote central locking, Bluetooth, a trip computer and front fog lamps with this Sandero.
Sounds quite generous, but it’s not nearly as spectacular a bargain as the entry-level car. You have to add cost options for example, even to the range-topping Sandero, to get it to an equipment level commensurate with, say, a Kio Kia Rio 1.25 ‘2’: alloy wheels (£425), Dacia’s protection pack (for the alarm - £430) and a four-year extension to the standard three-year warranty (£850). Having done that, your Sandero will set you back a no-haggle £10,250; after a manufacturer-backed incentive and a bit of deal-brokering, you can expect to pay about £11,500 for the Kia at the moment. Which is why, where this particular model is concerned, it absolutely does matter how the Dacia Sandero drives. You bet it does.