Renault is shaking things up with the launch of its Dacia budget brand in the UK by pitching the new Sandero five-door super-mini at just £5,995. That's thousands of pounds cheaper than any alternative, and a lot less than the previously rumoured sub-£7,000 price-tag which already looked ambitious enough. In fact, it's hard to disagree with Renault's claim that the Sandero is the UK's “most affordable new car”.
While most UK buyers are unfamiliar with Dacia, the company, which is Romanian, has a history of building Renaults under licence that goes back about forty years. In 1999, Renault took full control and started building Dacia up by investing in new models and expanding sales outside Eastern Europe. While they already have a strong following in countries such as Germany, Dacias haven't previously been sold in the UK market because the company has had its hands full supplying left-hand drive markets.
Dacia's position in Renault's brand portfolio is often likened to that of Skoda in the Volkswagen group but while Skoda has moved steadily up-market over the years, Renault has kept Dacia true to its budget roots. The cars contain up-to-date engineering and safety features but have fewer frills than most other models.
This can be seen in the Sandero line-up, which has an engine range that closely mirrors that of the brand new – and much more expensive – Renault Clio range, including an impressive new turbocharged 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol. Safety equipment includes ABS with Emergency Brake Assist, traction control, electronic stability control, front and side airbags and ISOFIX points for the outer rear seats.
The basic £5,995 car in Access trim isn't lavishly equipped but still gets power assisted steering, a 60/40 split folding rear seat and daytime running lights. No radio is fitted but the car is pre-wired for a dealer-fit or after-market unit. And even at the top end, a diesel-engined Laureate model with kit such as Bluetooth, air-con and cruise control still comes in at only £9,795. Options such as built-in sat-nav at £250 and leather at £600 represent conspicuously good value for money as well.
Customers can pre-order the Sandero from 22 October and the first cars will arrive at dealers in January 2013.