The facelifted Sandero gets a faster, more efficient engine and improved cabin, but does its drive let it down?
As the cheapest new car available in Britain, the Dacia Sandero already has plenty to recommend it to bargain hunters. Its value is even more jaw-dropping for 2017, thanks to a raft of upgrades including a fresh entry-level engine, additional cabin kit plus refreshed styling with LED DLRs.
Dacia Sandero 1.0 SCe 75 Laureate
Price: Â£6995 (Ambiance)
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinderÂ petrol
Gearbox: Five-speed manual
Top speed: 98mph
Economy: 54.3mpg (combined)
CO2Â emissions: 117g/km
The new 73bhpÂ 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine driven here replaces the previous, slightly slower and less economical 1.2 four-pot, and sits alongside the more powerful 0.9 petrol turbo triple and 1.4 diesel. The Sandero line-up kicks off with the Â£5995 Access, which is still fairly basically kitted out, while Â£1000 more buys the Ambiance, complete with DAB radio and air-con. For a further Â£1200 you can get the range-leading Laureate, with its touchscreen infotainment, sat-nav and reversing camera.
Our 1.0-litre Laureate test car wonâ€™t actually be available in the UK, as this market sees the powerplant teamed with Access and Ambiance trim levels only. However, it still gives us a good idea of how the new engine performs. As the car is light by supermini standards, the unit is peppy enough in town with sharper responses than most triples, but the revs must be kept in the mid-range out on the open road. This results in an unrefined â€˜thrumâ€™, so weâ€™d recommend regular motorway drivers choose the 0.9 petrol turbo instead.
The efficient new engine claims emissions and economy on a par with those of the Ford Ka+, but the Daciaâ€™s mechanicals remain unchanged and it canâ€™t quite match the budget blue ovalâ€™s fun drive or engaging ride.
At least it beats the new Ford supermini on price, while its tall body packages cabin space much more effectively, especially for rear passengers. Only a large loading lip hampers the generous luggage space. Stepped-up interior spec is complemented by better-quality materials than before, plus chrome dashboard accents and a more tactile steering wheel.
Itâ€™s all pretty good for the UKâ€™s cheapest car, despite it lacking the more satisfying dynamic finesse of costlier superminis. The new 1.0-litre engine makes the Sandero a better all-rounder than before, too. Combined with its price, practicality and upgraded cabin, it gives the Ka+ and Skoda Citigo a run for their money, so bargain hunters shouldnâ€™t discount it.