Dacia Sandero

Stepway Ambiance

TCe90

Dacia Sandero Stepway, front action 4
Dacia Sandero Stepway, front action 3
Dacia Sandero Stepway, front action 2
Dacia Sandero Stepway, front action
Dacia Sandero Stepway, front static
Dacia Sandero Stepway, side action
Dacia Sandero Stepway, rear action
Dacia Sandero Stepway, dashboard
Dacia Sandero Stepway, boot

THE Dacia Sandero still has the honour of being the cheapest car available in the UK.

Go back a few decades and cheap and cheerful cars were very much derided - remember those old Skoda jokes.

Interestingly Dacia doesn't seem to be the butt of many jokes and the reason is that an awful lot of people are buying them.

Not only that but there seem to be a lot of very satisfied customers.

Put simply if you're on a limited budget, see a car as very much an essential means of getting about rather than a style accessory then a Dacia makes perfect sense.

The Sandero range starts at just £5,995 for an Access SCe 75 model.

This model sits quite a bit up the Sandero range and is significantly more expensive but in the greater scheme of things it's still as cheap as chips.

For a start it's a Stepway model, a variant on the standard Sandero with the aim of giving it more of a crossover look and feel.

Its ride height has been raised by 40mm and it has roof bars and a few other styling enhancements aimed at delivering a slightly more rugged look.

The entire Dacia range was refreshed in 2017 and enhancements included an upgraded trim on the inside, which is noticeably smarter and more modern.

I particularly liked the soft-touch steering wheel, which feels much better than ones I remember in older Dacias.

Also the repositioning of the electric window switches on the door makes much more sense.

The interior of something like the Sandero is still spartan it has to be said, but it's far from being cheap and nasty and everything works rather well too.

As well as that eminently 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.

This model came well equipped, having electric front windows, automatic door-locking, remote central locking, lights in the boot and glovebox and an audio system with a radio/CD player, Bluetooth, plus an AUX socket and a USB port.

The cabin is nicely laid out and roomy, with rear seat passengers particularly well catered for in terms of both head and leg room. Boot space is generous too.

The Stepway comes in two trim levels (Ambiance and Laureate) with a choice of either a 90bhp petrol engine or a 90bhp diesel unit.

This car had the three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine (a lower powered version of it is available on some Sandero models) and it proved a smooth and capable performer.

The driving experience was enhanced by a slick-shifting five-speed gearbox.

Given the Sandero's price tag one might imagine you are going to sacrifice a lot in terms of driving dynamics - but this isn't the case.

Okay, it's unlikely to win any awards for its handling but overall it ain't half bad.

It is characterised by half decent driving dynamics and I had no real complaints about the driving experience.

There's some pitch and roll when you push it hard, in part due to a rugged suspension designed to cope with rougher road surfaces than the UK.

FAST FACTS

Dacia Sandero Stepway Ambiance TCe90

Price: £9,595

Mechanical: 90bhp, 900cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 104mph

0-62mph: 11.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 55.4

Insurance Group: 7

C02 emissions: 115g/km

Bik rating: 24%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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