Dacia Sandero Laureate TCe 90 Eco2 - Road Test

Renault’s fast-growing budget car-maker has produced another car that does the job dependably

Price: from £8,795 (Sandero range from £5,995)

Engine capacity: 0.9-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol

Power output (PS @ rpm): 90 @ 5,250

Top speed (mph): 109

0-62 (mph): 11.1

Fuel economy (mpg): 54.3

CO2 emissions (g/km): 116

The story over at Renault is  increasingly becoming a tale of two companies. On the one hand,  there’s what you might call the old Renault, which became one of the UK’s first big import brands with stylish but affordable cars such as the 5 and the Clio. That Renault, the French bit, is now struggling. Production comes from older, high-cost plants and the cars don’t strike a chord with buyers in the way they once did. Previous big sellers such as the Laguna and Espace have faded badly and have now been chopped from the UK range.

Then there’s the new Renault, the one we don’t really see much in Britain, the Renault of powerful international partners and promising emerging markets and brands. You’ll have heard of some of the relevant names – Japan’s Nissan, Germany’s Daimler and Russia’s Lada – but others will be less familiar; Renault Samsung Motors in Korea, for example, or Renault’s fast-growing budget car-maker Dacia from Romania. This new Renault is fizzing with potential and interesting products, and it’s probably going to save the old Renault’s bacon. In January, the UK will get its first taste of how that can work when keenly priced Dacia models turn up to help out Renault’s British dealers.

The position of Dacia in the Renault group is often likened to that of Skoda in relation to its parent brand, Volkswagen; Dacia and Skoda are both once-unfashionable Eastern European car-makers that have been thoroughly revitalised by new investment from their powerful post-Cold War parents. But there are differences too. Unlike Skoda and Volkswagen, Dacia and Renault had a long pre-merger history of working together, and while Skoda has gone up-market, Renault has anchored Dacia firmly at the budget end of the spectrum, with much lower prices.

You’ll be able to buy the Duster SUV for as little as £8,995 but the real bargain in the initial two-model UK line-up is the Sandero, which starts at a scarcely believable £5,995 for a car that is, if anything, on the large size for a five-door super-mini. We haven’t tried that bare-bones version but even our test car, which had the top-of-the-range Lauréate trim and the same new hi-tech three-cylinder petrol engine as the latest Renault Clio, came in at a still keen £8,795 – and that three-cylinder engine does just as good a job in this cheaper setting as it does in the Renault.

But how does the Sandero compare with its pricier stablemate in other areas? For the most part, pretty well. The Sandero’s handling, for example, is safe where the Clio’s is subtle. The Clio’s interior offers more in terms of style and what car-industry types call “surprise and delight” but the Sandero’s cabin, in its sturdy, understated, practical way does the job well, too. The materials used in the Dacia look, but do not always feel, as good as those in mainstream models. The seats aren’t as shapely but are still comfortable, and so on.

You can see where some of the money has been saved to achieve those low prices but you never have to do without anything you really need. That provides the Sandero with a feeling of honesty, sufficiency and integrity that gives it an appeal all of its own. This is going to sell – and in big numbers, too.

A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEpic YouTube video features boundary-pushing staging of a playground gun massacre
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Robyn Lawley
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    M&E Construction Planning Manager: Surrey

    £60000 - £90000 per annum + Car, Pension, Healthcare: Progressive Recruitment:...

    M&E Construction Planner Solihull

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Car, Healthcare, Pensions: Progressive Recruitment...

    PHP Developer - MySQL, RDBMS, Application Development

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: PHP Developer - MySQL, RDBMS, Applicatio...

    SAP Business Analyst - Data Migration, £75,000, Manchester

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP B...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star