This £8395 price sits nicely next to this Sandero. With the sophisticated engine, strong equipment levels and smartened-up appearance inside and out, it feels true to Dacia’s good value ethos rather than being elevated into an arena it’d struggle to compete in.
Performance from the 1.5-litre turbodiesel is strong, spinning freely and with plenty of low-end grunt. It’s quite noisy above 3000rpm though, and the gearshift is notchy. Tall gear ratios aid fuel economy; we returned more than 60mpg on a gentle motorway run.
The handling is fairly crisp, turn-in decent, although it never feels planted and grip levels aren’t the strongest. The ride is one of the stronger points, there’s plenty of suspension travel, although the secondary ride does suffer with the heavier alloy wheels rather than the steel wheels fitted to lesser Sanderos.
The steering wheel is fixed and the seat doesn’t adjust for height, so finding a decent driving position depends on how tall you are and how close you like the wheel to your chest. If your height and shape works with the default Sandero set-up then lucky you, if not then you might have some achey limbs at the end of a long journey.
The Ambiance trim is nicely appointed. Painting the bumpers the same shade as the body helps lift the model’s appeal no end over the Access. You also get electric front windows, remote central locking a 60/40 split rear seat, a radio with USB and AUX-in connectors and even some chrome trim as part of the Ambiance trim.
Should I buy one?
The £5995 Dacia Sandero will be too spartan and rugged for most tastes; the more expensive £10,000-plus examples go against the Sandero’s ethos and forces it to line up against cars with perhaps less equipment, but considerably more grown-up and sophisticated road manners.
So this Sandero would appear to be a happy medium in the range. Performance and economy are good, and while the quality, refinement and dynamics remain no match at all for a Fiesta, the cheery looks and equipment levels help add up to make a car with plenty more good than bad, particularly if you leave those option boxes unticked.
Dacia Sandero Ambiance dCi 90
Price £8395; Price as tested £9290; 0-62mph 12.1sec; Top speed 107mph; Economy 74.3mpg; CO2 99g/km; Kerb weight 1033kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1461cc, turbodiesel; Power 89bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 162lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 5spd manual