So here I am, with 505 miles and 11.5 hours behind the wheel of our long-term Dacia Sandero behind me. Quite literally, actually, as around 360 miles in to the trip I felt a twinge of pain from my back and I’m currently bent over the keyboard like an old man. Truth be told, the Sandero’s seats are fine, but the lack of bolster does - inevitably - eventually tell.
So what did I discover across the roads and lanes to and from north Wales? Well, to be blunt, the spark of something special I was hoping to find remains somewhat hidden. I’d been hoping for a moment of revelation out there, and boy I tried: today I drove every kind of road in every type of weather, from snow and hail storms to bright sunshine.
In the end, it turned out to be a long, hard day to discover what we probably all already knew: the £5995 Dacia Sandero is an ordinary car in almost every respect. What makes it stand out is that price, and the amount of space it offers for it. Oh, and possibly the mpg is quietly impressive - I’ve another tank to brim to get a final figure, but on my first stop I’d got 42mpg from what critics decry as an ageing petrol engine, despite driving as fast as I could as often as possible. Beyond those positives, though, there is little to report.
Need that be a bad thing? I think not. Because although the word 'adequate' could have been invented for the plucky Sandero in almost all of its physical qualities, I’ve come to believe (and remember I’ve had a lot of time to think about this) that its real beauty lies in the state of mind of the owner.
I love what the Sandero stands for: that it can run on many of Britain’s roads as fast as any premium rep mobile, that it looks like a van and yet does the job of the finest car about town and so on and so forth. Think like this, and the Sandero makes sense.
With this thinking comes a sense of freedom. You can bounce through city life without a care in the world, not an alloy to give a moment’s thought to as you parallel park, not a corner to exit with worries that you might apply that bit too much power on the exit. It’s a car that can be ragged without risking your licence and a car that you can pop the kids’ muddy bikes in without worrying (too much) if the dirt will ever come off.
There is a great deal of pleasure to derive from all that and more. Think that way, and the numb steering, wayward motorway manners, distinct shortage of refinement and so on melts into insignificance. Here is the Sandero’s selling point; few other cars could deliver in such a way.
The real test, of course, is whether I’d recommend one to a potential buyer. In truth, I’d have a good scour of the classifieds first, hovering somewhere around a three-year-old Kia Cee’d with one lady owner and four years of warranty still remaining before I took the plunge.
But if your mindset meets the bill, then why not? It’s taken all I can throw at it and more today, and I’ve enjoyed every moment.