New or used? Motorists have a real choice if the target is a Fiesta-sized family car with a spending budget of under €10,000. Dacia, the Romanian arm of the Renault/Nissan empire, has the answer with their latest offering, the Sandero, which undercuts rivals such as the Yaris, Polo and Fiesta by as much as €5,000.
For many first-time buyers or those with old models to trade-in, the prospect of getting a brand new car with a three-year warranty (or five for an extra €360) rather than a 2-3-year-old second-hand will make good sense.
And they can be happy in the knowledge that there is no skimping on safety – the entry-level version comes with the anti-skid ESC kit, anti-lock and emergency brake assist, four airbags, daytime running lights and adjustable headrests.
The Sandero comes in the wake of the bigger Duster SUV, which shaved €10,000 off the price of some rivals.
As a result of the growing interest, Duncan Minto, who also heads Renault here, is in the process of expanding the 10-dealership network to at least 20 in the near future.
Dacia claims there is more space in the Sandero than a Fiesta and we are told there is room for two baby seats and an adult in the rear. Obviously one of the target areas is young families. Legroom here could be more generous for adults.
The boot has 320 litres of space but the 60/40 split rear seats can turn it into a bigger luggage area.
A repair kit comes in a deep well where there is space for a spare wheel.
This is the second generation Sandero and it gets a new platform and new bodywork. The styling is unexciting but smart enough to compete in a B-segment market where compact packaging takes precedence over flashy lines.
Seating could be more substantial but this should not be a problem for the urban, short haul drives that the Sandero will be mostly used for.
Most of the equipment is tried-and-tested Renault running gear, while under the bonnet there is a choice of three engines. The entry level Alternative starts with a 1.2 litre 75 bhp petrol unit Band B2 (€280 road tax). The ex-works price is €9,990 with delivery charges adding up to an extra €600. There is also the highly fuel efficient 1.5 litre 90 bhp with the lowest non-electric vehicle road tax of €180 and a fuel consumption figure of over 4.5L/100km (60 mpg). This costs €12,490 in entry level trim.
The star of the show is the 900cc turbo-charged TCe 90 bhp, which has 116g/km and a road tax of €200. This is a very willing engine, refined and with good pulling power.
The ex-works price here is €11,090 but the step up from the entry petrol engine is worth it if there is any spare cash. The Sandero behaves well but is prone to rolling on corners if heavy on the accelerator.
The higher grade Signature level adds about €2,000 for extras, which include cruise control, fog lights, 15in alloys, air conditioning and rear electric windows.
Dacia plan to sell 800 Duster units and 400 Sandero units this year (4X4 versions of the Duster will be available from July).
There is a finance deal on the Sandero costing €99 a month after a down payment in the region of €3,000 and a final payment at the end of three years.
The company plans a Logan MCV estate in the second half of this year and a groomed up version of the Sandero called the Stepway early next year.