The modern mainstream compact hatchback has inherited a great deal of sophistication over the past decade. And by the more rarefied standards against which we measure most of them now – excepting its prodigious practicality – the basic Dacia Sandero comes up short.
But even on things such as refinement, specification and economy, this car gives you more than you're paying for. Many buyers, of course, will look not to the likes of the Kia Rio and Chevrolet Aveo for context, but to the Sandero's nearest competition on price that includes the Skoda Citigo and Citroen C1. And next to those cars it's practical, competent to drive and still great value, if coarse and rudimentary.
If you're considering one of the more expensive Sandero options, however, then you'll have to buy carefully. The basic model makes sense, as its adequate capabilities suffice given its price, but the higher-specification models have to compete with highly polished and well-developed acts. Those cars are where we'd ultimately recommend you put your money.
That's why we can't recommend the Dacia very highly, except to buyers able to distinguish between their need for transport and their desire for it.
On behalf of them – and those for whom it opens the door to new-car ownership – we welcome the Sandero as what must undoubtedly seem like the best small car in the real world.