As before, the Sandero is offered in two bodystyles: there’s the regular supermini, which is built at the firm’s Tangier manufacturing plant; and the Romanian-built Stepway, which, being the most popular Sandero variant in the UK, is the one we’re testing here.

Being a more rugged take on the standard car, the Stepway is the slightly larger of the two. At 4099mm, it is 11mm longer than the regular Sandero, which is itself only 30mm longer than its immediate predecessor. It’s taller too, thanks to a 174mm lift in ride height, although both its front and rear tracks are slightly narrower.

The Sandero Stepway’s modular roof bars are patented, and can be reconfigured to act as a proper load-bearing roof rack. Set up as such, it can hold up to 80kg.

Dark plastic cladding around the bumpers, wheel arches and side skirts, along with a new grille design and prominent roof rails, also contribute to the Stepway’s comparatively buff stance. And while it isn’t likely to win any design awards, the new Sandero is undoubtedly a handsome-looking car, too. It’s far sleeker in appearance than the boxy second-generation model, with new features such as LED headlights and daytime running lights (standard on all Sandero models) lending the Dacia an appealingly contemporary look.

Beneath it all sits an adapted version of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s CMF-B modular architecture, which also underpins the excellent fifth-generation Clio supermini. The Sandero is the first Dacia to make use of this platform, which is not only stronger and more rigid than the previous B0 architecture (which dates back to the 1998 Clio 2), but is also compatible with modern driver assistance systems. Even entry-level models gain a radar-controlled emergency brake assist system.

However, as we’ll come to later, this hasn’t necessarily helped it much in the eyes of crash testing agencies that have scored it lowly and would rather it had a camera to assist (Dacia thinks its customers wouldn’t want to pay the extra money that would entail).

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