The new Dacia Sandero costs under €13,000. Campbell Spray takes it for a spin, and answers a reader’s electric questions
It was a bit bizarre, but over the last 14 months little has surprised me. At least we are back having car launches, although they are very socially distant events, with just a few people meeting in large, open spaces and then taking out heavily sanitized cars by ourselves.
So there I was last week, just having hurtled down the M11 in the country’s least expensive new car, and now I was looking for Paddy Magee, the Dacia and Renault boss in Ireland, for a quick chat.
As rain of biblical proportions came down, I found Paddy touring the warehouse of the country’s leading automotive marketing services company, talking to the firm’s boss amid a score of red Ferraris of which “only two” were his.
Like three masked avengers, we circled each other to shoot the breeze about missing pints, time with colleagues and the state of the motoring world. I forgot to ask him about the Dacia Sandero which I had just driven. But even after about an hour’s drive, I knew a lot about this bargain-basement car – €12,990 for a family-sized vehicle – whose comfort and safety levels are definitely last generation.
Although it will cost about another €1,000 on the road, the car has a three-year warranty – so after looking at present second-hand prices, you should get back just less than two-thirds of the cost in three to four years’ time.
Therefore for about €30 a week you do get “new” motoring of a certain level. I felt pretty energized flying down the motorway at 120kmh but slightly out of my comfort zone. If I was buying one for a family member I would want to know they were the sensible type.
In that, I was pleased to read that six in ten young motorists would be happy to have their driving monitored by a telematics device if it would lead to a reduction in their insurance premium. (This from an AIG survey carried out to raise awareness for AIG BoxClever, an insurance product designed specifically for young drivers. It is a telematics box installed within the car to monitor driving behaviour – including speed, braking and smoothness of driving.)
The new Sandero is a great improvement on previous models and the three-pot 65bhp engine does its best after you have mastered the art of getting to 100kmh which takes the guts of 17 seconds. You can pay more for faster, more comfortable, safer and even biofuel and Stepway (faux SUV) versions. The overall EuroNCAP two-star safety award must be taken into account, but we aren’t very good at putting safety above price in this country.
All you need to know about moving to an EV
As my colleague Geraldine Herbert pointed out in the Motoring Supplement last Sunday, the aim of having nearly a million electric vehicles on the road by 2030 is beginning to look more of a possibility. All marques are stepping up their production of EVs, and non-electric or hybrid launches are a rarity.
People want to know if it is the time to go electric – and typical of many emails that I receive was the following:
“Hi Campbell, I am currently considering changing my car to an ID.3. Is now the time to go electric? Does Ireland have the infrastructure? How long does it take to charge the battery at home and at the filling station? How fast is fast charge? Many thanks.”
So, in answer:
1) The public charging system is still in relative infancy, and for the moment you can only get the full benefit of EV ownership from a wallbox to charge your car at home. Typically it might take around 8-10 hours to charge a car with a decent range of about 400kms.
However at public fast-charging points it takes less than 30 minutes to get an 80pc charge – and a few very high power stations, like Ionity, give an 80pc charge in 18 minutes and less than 4.5 minutes for a range of 100km.
2) Smaller battery cars – such as the Opel Corsa-e and Mokka-e, Peugeot’s e-208 and e-2008, and the Renault Zoe – are all good at the lower 300km range; the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai electric Kona have made much of the running in the bigger 450 km range; and recently the Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4, with a choice of batteries, have taken very strong positions – and already have 2pc of the overall new car market.
3) There is still a premium to pay, even the smaller EVs can be €12,000 more than petrol models.
I’d hold off for a while, prices and choice will soon be stunning. Just this month it was possible to put down deposits on the Audi Q4 e-tron, which will start at around €41.5k after grants for the smaller battery (330km) model, or to start ordering the EV6, Kia’s stunning first dedicated EV, starting at €50,000.
4) Should the reader buy a VW ID.3? After grants the range starts at €33,625 for the FirstEdition model, which makes it very competitive and is one of the best ways of getting into EV motoring.
For loyal Volkswagen customers it is a choice which will keep their comfort blanket in place. Yet the looks may age quickly.
Arteon estate brings elegance to the roads
The name of the Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake harks back to a different era, but this estate is long, low and sleek. Some may dismiss it as a Passat with attitude, but really it is a rather lovely bit of work with absolutely massive space for passengers and luggage.
Unfortunately the load area is spoiled by a big lip which will be plain annoying if you are on an Ikea buying spree.
I was driving the 2.0 litre diesel engine in R-Line spec with a seven-speed DSG automatic box, which makes it a great motorway cruiser. It’s €54,060 on the road which is about €6k more than the base model. However there is also a four-wheel drive R model with a powerful 320bhp petrol engine for €85,000.
Strangely for such a low car, I never found any difficulty getting in. It was a tactile joy to drive.
We are not great estate buyers over here unlike a lot of our continental cousins. It’s a pity, as the cars like the Aertoen Shooting Brake bring back an elegant style to motoring.