Written by Rachel Burgess ▼

Dacia Sandero Stepway 1.5 dCi review

The hype around Dacia has been phenomenal, building up to and since its launch at the beginning of 2013. Billed as selling the cheapest car in Britain, it has done exactly that, with the supermini Sandero starting at £5995.

It’s also holds the crown for cheapest SUV with the decent-looking Duster, which costs £8995.

And now comes the Sandero Stepway, which starts from £7995. It combines the value-for-money and low running costs of the Sandero with the ruggedness of an off-roader. Essentially, the only difference is some extra cladding, a chrome roof bar and 40mm of height, because despite its crossover looks, it’s only offered in two wheel drive.

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Performance

We tested the 1.5-litre diesel with 88bhp which does 0-62mph in 11.8seconds. There’s also a 0.9-litre petrol unit on offer that is slightly quicker at 11.1 seconds, but the diesel makes the most all-round sense.

This diesel is the same that’s found in parent company Renault’s Clio, yet doesn’t have quite the same refinement or insulation.

The same applies to the gearstick, which might look near-identical in both cars, but doesn’t offer the same slickness in the Dacia as the Renault, proving notably more notchy with gear shifts.

But, all-in-all, the performance perfectly suits this no-frills car, doing the job it was designed to do – getting you from A to B with reasonable pace and comfort.This is most suited to town and local driving, popping to the supermarket and running errands, rather than long, fast journeys, where the bearable noise, comfort and performance will quickly become far more evident and less acceptable.

Ride and handling

The Sandero Stepway is one of those cars that does exactly what is says on the tin – it certainly doesn’t have the ride and handling finesse of many cars out there but, at the same time, it’s not a bad little car.

Body roll is ample, and it’s not awfully kind on speed bumps, but the chances of Sandero Stepway owners wanting to nail the car out of corners is slim.

Its boxy uprightness also makes it a pleasure to park in tight roadside spaces, while our top-of-the-range Laureate trim includes rear parking sensors.

Equipment

The interior of the car is spartan, but who cares, when you have this sort of value proposition?

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Our top Laureate-specced model costs £10,795 and includes cruise control, tinted windows, 16-inch wheels as well as 7-inch touchscreen multimedia system including satnav.

Running costs

When you consider the reasonable list price and then take on board the efficiency figures – an impressive 70.6mpg and emissions of 105g/km CO2, this becomes an even more appealing consideration. If it could nudge under the 100g mark, it’d become even better.

Rival, the Fiat Panda 1.3 Multijet in Lounge trim is £1500 more expensive at £12,295, while having near-equivalent figures of 72.4mpg and 104g/km.

Further up the expense bracket, the similarly sized Nissan Juke, in high-spec Tekna costs £18,490, and offers 61.4mpg and 109g/km.

Boot space leads against rivals the Fiat Panda and Nissan Juke, with 320 litres, versus 225 litres and 251 litres respectively.

Verdict

4

Dacia has recognised a missing niche in the UK market and capitalised on it with its range of cars. The Sandero Stepway is hardly differentiated from the Sandero, but sensibly targets the growing popularity of crossovers with its chunky body styling.

Anyone considering this car won’t have handling and performance high on their list of priorities: instead, this utilitarian and unexciting model will actually keep plenty of owners happy.