DACIA SANDERO (2013-2017)


5-door hatch / Stepway hatch [1.2, 0.9 TCe, 1.5 dCi]



A cheap manufacturing base in Eastern Europe was one reason why Renault-owned Romanian brand Dacia is able to offer its cars so cheaply on the new market. But do models like this Sandero make sense as a used buy? Here, we look at the original post-2013 version of this car and decide.

The History

The Sandero is a model nearly as big as a Focus-sized family hatch that when new, cost less than the price of a tiny citycar. Little wonder that it made Dacia Europe’s fastest-growing automotive manufacturer. The brand was first founded in 1966 but the company only really took off when acquired by Renault in 1999 as an ultra-affordable brand for developing markets. It was for these countries that its first modern era product, the Logan saloon, was launched in 2004. Costing a mere 5,000 euros, it sold like hot cakes, encouraging the marque to launch a five-door version four years later, badged the Sandero.

By now, the bigger more sophisticated European countries were surprising Renault management by also clamouring for Dacias, a demand that took so long to satisfy that it wasn’t until early 2013 that the brand could be properly launched here. By then, a second generation Sandero had been launched, a smarter step up from the spartan original with more modern engineware and more up-to-date equipment. The pricing approach though was familiar, thousands of pounds lower than similarly sized competitors, delivering to British buyers a new car for less than the price of many comparable used ones.

The car was offered in two forms – standard hatch guise and as a ‘Stepway’ model, which was essentially the same but had a raised ride height and a few SUV styling cues. The range was facelifted in early 2017 and the 1.2-litre entry-level petrol engine replaced by a more efficient 1.0 SCe 75 unit. It’s the earlier models we look at here.

What You Pay

If you’re looking at the pre-facelift (ie. pre-2017) versions of this car, prices start at around £3,800 for an early ’13-era 1.2-litre Access variant, with values rising to around £5,800 for a later ’16-era model. We’d suggest that you stretch to the less basic mid-range ‘Ambiance’ trim, which demands a premium of around £500. Ideally, you’d want a better engine too; we’d recommend the more efficient 0.9 TCe turbo petrol unit, which is priced from around £4,300 for a ’13-era ‘Ambiance’ variant, with values rising to around £6,500 for a later ’16-era car. For the 1.5 dCi diesel, values start at around £5,000 for a ’13-era model, rising to around £7,500 for a later ’16-era car. In both cases, there’s a £600 premium over ‘Ambiance’ level if you want plusher ‘Laureate’ trim with air conditioning. If you want the ‘Stepway’ bodystyle, typically, there’s a model-for-model premium of around £600 for that.

What To Look For

Our Sandero ownership survey revealed a large number of very satisfied owners – which surprised us a little given the low price of this model. Inevitably though, there were a few rogue examples and in your used car searches, you need to be careful to avoid them. The biggest issue we came across was one owner who said his car randomly lost power when accelerating. Others reported issues with rough idling, frequent stalling and excess play in the suspension struts. One owner reported a radiator with a hole in it, which had to be replaced, along with the water pump.

Otherwise, the issues that came up tended to be relatively minor ones. One owner found that the boot lock rotated but wouldn’t unlock. Another reported rogue warning lights for tyre pressure and the handbrake. And there was an issue on one car with paint peeling off the rear bumper. Check all these

On The Road

This, in its most affordable form, was Britain’s most affordable new car. An accolade that tends to lower your expectations when it comes to ride and handling, an opinion likely to be reinforced by news of underpinnings essentially dating back to the turn of the century. But of course, the dynamic needs of likely Dacia buyers will be modest to say the least, with a perspective that, like ours, will be further tempered by asking price realism.

So no, of course a Sandero doesn’t ride and handle like a rival Ford Fiesta: you feel the bumps just as you would in an old Nineties supermini. But that’s to be expected. Apart from anything else, this car has to tackle the unsealed roads of backward nations like Morocco and Iran, so there would have been no point in giving it fancy modern multi-link mechanicals. Still, the robust suspension set-up provided is perfectly adequate for ordinary A to B driving and you’ll find bodyroll to be actually reasonably well controlled if you really must throw the thing through the corners.


If, for you, a car is simply a functional implement, a domestic tool that, like any other, must justify its expenditure, then this one fits the bill perfectly. Solid, spacious and family-friendly for the kind of money you’d pay for a tiny city scoot, it offers pretty much everything you need and nothing you don’t. There’s extra equipment if you really want it – and even a bit of hi-tech for petrol TCe customers.

All at pricing pitched to severely embarrass the established market players. Their products are still more sophisticated – but the gap isn’t huge. Except, of course, when it comes to what you have to pay.