The word 'adequate' sums up the Dacia Sandero's dynamic showing, irrespective of specification. You could attribute the car's slightly lumpy, approximate ride control to antiquated mechanicals, to a shortage of budget for quality components or to a shortage of time, money or expertise for chassis tuning. 

All three could be responsible for the gap between the Sandero's ride and handling and that of an average supermini. But the truth is more complicated than that, because with the strength to deal with the unsealed roads of Morocco and Brazil comes greater unsprung masses and stiffer dampers – both enemies of decent ride quality.

The Sandero's ride is at best functional, but it's not comfortable

Whatever explains it, the Sandero has an uneven and inconsistent gait over a changing surface. For the first couple of inches of wheel travel, over gentle lumps and bumps and at low speeds, the suspension moves quite freely. Then, over disturbances that don't look much bigger, the shock absorbers suddenly wake up and check the body's movement in a slightly abrupt fashion. The car's damping is 'route one' – digital rather than analogue. It's rarely uncomfortable – it serves a purpose, but that’s all.

On a smoother route, however, the picture is rosier. The steering is well weighted and reasonably feelsome and, when stoked up, the Dacia corners with some aplomb. Grip is nicely balanced between the axles and body roll doesn't discourage a press-on approach.

You'll feel like you're victimising the car's engine and drivetrain in bullying it along at speeds high enough to discover as much, of course, and most owners are never likely to. Still, for those who care to, it might be pleasing to unearth the ghost of a fine-driving old Renault Clio every now and again.

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