Walking past the Dacia stand, my gaze fell on the just-unveiled Sandero hatchback – the £6k supermini made by Renault, and headed for a showroom near you in early 2009. Now, this probably isn’t the type of car you’d put on your list of must-sees at any motor show; it’s the type of car you wander past on route to somewhere else. And then curiosity takes hold.
That’s exactly what happened with me. The chance to check out what kind of car this is proved too much to resist: can Renault really make a properly-screwed together B-segment entrant, made from materials other than second-hand UHU glue and sandpaper, for less than the price of a Citroen C1?
Seems it can. Doesn’t matter which way you look at it, this is proper car. From without the Sandero looks modern, sophisticated, and no less attractive than a Hyundai Getz or Peugeot 207. Alright, so it’s not going to win any design awards, but it’s a Fiesta-sized car for £1000 less than a Ford Ka. Last time I checked, original Monets weren’t available in the best buys bucket.
On the inside, I was expecting ancient-looking switchgear, a paucity of equipment, and trim gaps you could lose your keys in. The Sandero has nothing of the sort. It had plenty of kit (show cars always do), and was as pleasant a place to spend time in as many a much more expensive supermini I could mention. All that let it down were some harder-than-average dash plastics – but even those were no harder than you’d find on a Mitsubishi Colt.
Perhaps the places where Renault saved money on the Dacia Sandero will become evident when we drive it. Maybe it’ll rattle and reverberate louder than a tin shack in a lightning storm. Maybe it’ll be slower and less pleasant to drive than the average supermini, or maybe it won’t last as well. But having seen Renault’s vision of cheap everyday motoring for the British masses with my own eyes, I doubt it.
If you’re in the market for a new supermini, I suggest you take a long look at this car as soon as you possibly can. I’ll make you wonder why you should bother paying another £3k for a car – almost any new supermini – that simply isn’t 50 per cent better.