What is it?
“Good news!” as James May used to say: the new Dacia Sandero is now on sale in the UK. And, starting at less than £8000, it’s still Britain’s cheapest new car.
Not that 99% of Sandero buyers will ever pick the Access base model, because a much nicer one can be had for £1000 extra. And around one in 10 owners choose this top-powered Bi-Fuel version, which can run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as well as petrol and swap between the two at the push of a button.
It has a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine making 99bhp, with a 50-litre petrol tank in its usual place and a 40-litre LPG tank where the spare wheel should be. LPG is cheaper to buy than petrol and emits less CO2, and power and torque are up over running on petrol, too.
However, you can’t find LPG everywhere in the UK and it’s not as economical as petrol: this car can officially run at 39.8mpg on it versus 52.3mpg on petrol. Still, fill both tanks and you might get 800 miles out of them combined, which could make it the longest-range car on sale.
What’s it like?
It’s also still a Sandero, which means the interior features plenty of hard plastics but lags only a few years behind the class norm and is ergonomically sound. It’s supermini-sized, but its boot is large and adults will comfortably fit in the back seats.
The engine fizzes away, a touch more responsive in LPG mode, while the gearshift is light and easy, if a little floppy. Refinement and involvement aren’t as strong as in the best superminis, but neither is the price, and honestly that’s fine.
Our test car is in £11,995 Comfort trim, meaning it comes with a big touchscreen that includes sat-nav, but even the most basic one (which I would love to try) has a smartphone holder and will play tunes from your device. It also has black bumpers and bare-steel wheels, so it looks endearingly basic.