Dacia Sandero Ambiance

dCi 90

THE last time I drove a Dacia Sandero it was at the height of the economic downturn and I concluded it was in many ways the perfect car for those recessionary times.

In a range that makes no bones about it being a value for money proposition first and foremost, the Dacia Sandero was then the cheapest new car in Britain - and still is.

Even more interestingly an entry level Sandero Access model is the same price as it was four years ago - £5,995.

Okay, for that you don't even get a radio but for an extra £1,000 you will be able to listen to the Archers while you're on the go, as well as enjoying the benefits of air conditioning, electric front windows and Bluetooth connectivity.

Renault's Romanian-made budget brand has just notched up 100,000 sales in the UK since it first came on the scene in 2013 and refreshed its entire range for 2017, meaning it is now even better value for money.

There's a new engine on offer, a 75bhp 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol engine, for the Sandero and Logan MCV.

Dacia buyers also get an upgraded trim on the inside, which looks smarter and more modern all round.

Other enhancements include a soft-touch steering wheel, which feels much better and the repositioning of the electric window switches on the door makes much more sense.

As well as that extremely affordable price another big selling point for Dacias is that you're essentially getting Renault technology. Some of it may be past rather than present but the fact is it's proven and performs well.

It would be interesting to see how many entry-level Sanderos Dacia sell in the UK but in reality most buyers will be opting for something further up the range and the creature comforts a more ‘luxurious' Sandero offers.

This Ambiance model comes with a heftier price tag - £9,595 (still under the £10,000 mark) and with the more potent 1.5-litre diesel engine. It also offers impressive economy - 80.7mpg on the combined cycle.

Given the price it's generously equipped - a DAB radio, air conditioning, electric front windows, Bluetooth connectivity, AUX input and USB connection, tinted windows, body coloured bumpers, ECO mode with stop & start function, a heated rear windscreen, Hill Start Assist, remote central locking and plenty more besides.

For the money the Sandero really is a pretty impressive car it has to be said and is difficult to fault.

The cabin is spartan in flavour but has a nice roomy feel and there's a generously sized boot.

Its driving dynamics are actually half decent and it handled better than I expected.

There's a noticeable bit of pitch and roll when pushed hard, in part due to a rugged suspension set-up that I imagine has been designed to cope with the rough and tumble of Eastern European roads.

The flipside is it means the ride quality isn't bad and it can certainly take poorer British road surfaces with all their lumps and bumps in its stride.

The diesel engine is smooth and refined and feels more potent than the on paper performance figures would suggest.

You can't help but notice more and more Dacias on British roads these days and in all honesty I'm not surprised.

FAST FACTS

Dacia Sandero Ambiance dCi 90

Price: £9,595

Mechanical: 90bhp, 1,461cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 107mph

0-62mph: 11.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 80.7

Insurance Group: 8

C02 emissions: 90g/km

Bik rating: 20%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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