This may be the top-spec Sandero, but ‘top’ remains a relative term. The whole car is a bit like having dinner at Wetherspoon: you’re getting a meal out somewhere warm with a roof over your head and are in there because you’re happy to be, but it’s all in the full knowledge that others offer a better experience with the same ingredients. Yet they all cost more and you’re no less full up at the end of it.
So, the Sandero is almost wholly uncompromised in its ability to offer a new car and the associated experience at a bargain price. This Comfort version offers just enough of the aforementioned toys (think of it as like ordering some coleslaw and onion rings to go with your basic beer and burger) to stop you feeling like you’ve gone back to the 1990s, with the added bonus of a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system.
The driving experience feels rooted in the ‘90s, though. The ride is soft, lacking in any sophistication, and has the tendency to get flustered and send the whole car wobbling when dealing with more than one bump in quick succession.
Corners? It goes round them. Leans around them, rather, before returning to an upright position. The only feel the steering has is the rather cheap feel of the wheel on your hands, which are further away than you want them to be, because there's no reach adjustment for the wheel. Which would be fine were it not for the rather awkward driving position that leaves your perched on the seat, higher than you’d like, too.
But then you remember the Sandero's price and a smile returns. You’re spending a huge chunk less on what is still a new car, your very own, uncorrupted new car; have you seen how much most other new superminis cost these days? Over 50% more than this top-spec Sandero for an entry-level version. Perhaps they’re 50% better, but you’re paying for it. The Sandero is still bigger than most other small hatchbacks, too, with plenty of space for passengers and their luggage.
And unlike a lot of quite homogenised superminis, there's character to be found in the Sandero. Not necessarily in the ways those again in marketing would want you to shout about, but the lack of refinement does bring with it a hearty sound from the small turbo petrol engine revving, aurally encouraging you to pedal the Sandero in the kind of way you probably did your first small car all those years ago. It sounds faster than it actually is.
There’s truth to be found in the economy, though, which is a real selling point of this car. You’ll get into the 50s for your mpg on a run, meaning a range of around 450 miles. So why would you need the diesel, which costs a good 15% more than this petrol version? You’d have to do a lot of miles over a long period of time to get that money back.