This second-generation Dacia Sandero was designed in tandem with the new Renault Clio and overseen by Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker. 

The Dutchman acknowledges a certain stylistic imitation of the Volkswagen Polo in the car's chunky aesthetic. It's all in pursuit of an impression of strength and solidity mixed with modernity, which the Sandero pulls off well to our eyes. 

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The Sandero gives you everything you need, and nothing you don't.

Mid and high-end Ambiance and Lauréate versions of the car look contemporary – European, even – and quite smart. Entry-level Access models, however, have grey plastic bumpers, mirrors and door handles and steel wheels that have a detrimental effect on the car's understated sense of style.

In entry-level trim the Sandero certainly does look cheap, it's more like a light commercial vehicle than a consumer supermini. If looks are of importance to you, rather than just daily transport back and forth, you'll want to specify one of the higher two trims. 

Much is misunderstood about what goes into a new Dacia, and what exactly the firm's 'B0' platform – which underpins all of its cars – owes to that which served under the 1998 Clio 2. Certain components were recycled from that Renault platform, and some have even survived to feature in this Sandero, but many more have been designed afresh and continue to be updated. Dacia has also updated the Sandero for 2017, which not only saw a mild facelift in the shape of new headlights, LED day running lights, a prominent front grille, and signature tailights, but also the introduction of a naturally aspirated 1.0 unit to replace the 1.2 16-valve unit that propped up the range previously. The new entry-level engine is available in all three trims for the first time, and is claimed to be ten percent more efficient as well.

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The motivating force for Dacia is always to make the cheapest car it can – but one that will work in the developing markets of Africa and South America as well as in Europe. So the side window glazing on a Sandero is identical to that found on a Logan or a Duster, for example. But the suspension – a class-standard MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear layout – is more robust than you'll find on cars designed to be used exclusively on smooth, paved roads.

Engines options include the entry-level 74bhp 1.0-litre engine, Renault's lively state-of-the-art 0.9-litre petrol turbo triple and a frugal and flexible 1.5-litre turbodiesel.

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