In the eight years that it’s been on sale in the UK, the Dacia Sandero has managed to make quite a name for itself.
Touching down on our shores for the first time in 2013 in second-generation guise, the Romanian supermini immediately staked its claim to the title of ‘cheapest new car in Britain’. Prices for the bog-standard Access model started at £5995, for which you would get a car that had four wheels, an engine and not much else. Such was the absence of standard equipment that even the most conservatively minded Spartan would have felt right at home behind the wheel.
Of course, despite the headline-grabbing price, not many people actually opted for the Austerity Special. Higher-spec variants offered a bit more in the way of creature comforts (namely air conditioning and a stereo) but still came with an intriguingly low sticker price. The formula proved to be a hit, and with a range bolstered by similarly cut-price offerings in the form of the Duster SUV and Logan MCV, Dacia sold its 100,000th UK car just three years after it first set up shop.
Fast forward to 2021, and the Renault-owned brand has sold 108,000 Sanderos in Britain alone. It’s the Romanian firm’s breadand-butter model, and was a big contributor to its ability to shift more than 500,000 cars annually in Europe before the pandemic.
Model tested: Sandero Stepway TCe 90 Prestige
Price as tested: £14,605
Engine: 3 cyls in line, 999cc, turbocharged, petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Driveline layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Sandero Stepway TCe 90 Prestige
View all specs and rivals
3 cyls in line, 999cc, turbocharged, petrol
Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Now, the Sandero is back for a third generation. It may still be the cheapest new car on sale in Britain (prices now start at £7995) but, as we’ll go on to explore, this time around Dacia has made even more of an effort when it comes to bolstering equipment, and outright desirability, while trying to keep costs to the customer at levels that would see them mulling over it instead of a used car. That’s a tricky tightrope to walk. Let’s see how it gets on.