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Britain's Cheapest Car - The Dacia Sandero

By raccars Published

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The Dacia Sandero has been available in mainland Europe for a few years and a UK launch has been eagerly awaited. Famous mostly for its ultra-budget price, the British motoring community has been keen to see if the Sandero is a case of getting what you pay for, or if it has what it takes to transform the budget car sector.

The Sandero is in the compact family car class, similar to a Fiesta. What may surprise sceptics is just how competent this car is: it's spacious, robust and intelligently designed. It's the entry-level version that's gaining press, with a price tag a shade under £6,000, but it's not really fair to judge the car solely on this rather Spartan effort. Open the purse strings just a little more and you'll find the Sandero is a realistic competitor in the small hatchback market.

Renault-Nissan owned Dacia's Sandero sits atop the same chassis as the Nissan Note and Leaf models and engine choices open with the Renault Clio sourced 900cc TCe 90, a little three-cylinder unit that's pleasingly perky but efficient. If you can't stretch to that, there's a 1.2 litre unit with four cylinders and 75bhp, or a 1.5 litre diesel available with either 75 or 90bhp.

The five-door Sandero cabin seats five adults comfortably and, impressively, you can even fit three child seats in the rear without using a crowbar. There's a very competitive 320 litre boot and a 60/40 split fold rear seat, in addition to various handy storage cubby holes. The finish might not quite be up to luxury standards but it's certainly better than the price tag might lead you to expect.

On the outside, the Sandero is conservatively attractive. For your £6,000 entry-level Access model, you can expect manual windows, no stereo and a mandatory white colourway, but you're still getting a biggish, well-built motor for the money. It's worth shelling out an extra £600 for the Ambiance trim level, for a choice of engines, remote central locking, Bluetooth connection and a CD stereo with USB input. For desirable extras such as air conditioning, electric windows, cruise control and a height-adjustable driver's seat, you'll need the £8,000 Laureate trim, rising to £10,000 with optional extras.

While the Sandero is unlikely to make the likes of Ford lose any sleep at night, it is an interesting proposition. You get a good (if basic) car that includes a three year warranty, for half the price of its rivals. Can you afford not to check it out?

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