Back in December I wrote about the forthcoming launch of Renault’s Dacia budget brand in the UK. The Dacia Duster has already been crowned Scottish Car of the Year, three months before it even launches — and Dacia is now ready with its first UK model, the Sandero supermini.
For just £5,995, you can buy a brand new Dacia Sandero — the car pictured opposite. It’s a five-seater, five-door that comes with a choice of three of Renault’s best engines, the tried-and-tested 1.2-litre petrol, plus two new engines: the 0.9-litre TCe 90 petrol engine and the 1.5dCi 90 diesel engine, both of which offer great fuel economy and low emissions (sub-100g/km for the diesel).
Dacia have pulled out all the stops when it comes to the Sandero’s standard specification, removing everything that isn’t safety related or legally required!
As standard, you can have the Sandero in white with steel wheels and manual window winders. Luckily, pre-wiring for a radio and speaker system is included — but the speakers and radio are an optional extra.
On the other hand, the entry-level Sandero Access model does include ABS, Emergency Brake Assist, ASR traction control, ESC (electronic stability control), driver and passenger airbags and ISOFIX points on the two outside rear seats. So you may not be grooving, but you will be safe.
Fork out another £600 and you can get the mid-level Ambiance, which includes refinements such as a radio CD player with fingertip remote controls, USB and AUX input, Bluetooth™, remote central locking, electric front windows, body coloured bumpers and 15” ‘Colorado’ wheel trims.
For anyone that really wants to push the boat out, there’s the top-of-the-range Lauréate model, which starts from £7,995 and includes air conditioning, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, cruise control and electric rear windows as standard, plus the option of a fully-integrated 7-inch touchscreen navigation and multimedia system for just £250.
However, for my money, I reckon that buying a fully loaded Dacia Sandero is like buying a Ferrari to drive to the supermarket once a week. It just isn’t right.
If you want all the bells and whistles, then save up and buy a Renault Clio. If you want to cut your motoring costs to the bone, then buy a Dacia Sandero Access, and rejoice in the fact that most cars lose more in depreciation in their first year than your car cost in the first place!
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it
Finally, remember this: In 1989, the list price of a new Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre Popular 4-speed (the most basic model available) was £5,736.
That makes the Dacia Sandero’s £5,995 price tag look very cheap indeed. Yet Dacia’s European sales have risen from 5,000 in 2004 (when Renault bought the company) to 350,000 last year, suggesting that there is very little wrong with a Dacia if you want a cheap, reliable means of transport. I reckon it should succeed — and to be honest, I’d be quite happy to buy one. As long as it’s white, with no extras.