The Dacia Sandero Stepway at a glance
Less cliché thinking
Let’s play prejudice guessing! Of course, as it should be in this environment, in an automotive version. Who drives Toyota Corolla? I agree. Practical people who see their car as a simple companion and don’t want to worry too much. Suzuki Swift? Maybe a young single person, mostly male in Swift Sport.
And Dacia Sandero? Oh dear. The small car of the Romanian Renault subsidiary is usually driven by best agers to the discounter on Thursday mornings in order to be the first to get the best special offers from the weekly brochure. There is little time left for vehicle maintenance.
Well, dear readers? Do you now also have a dark blue uni-painted Sandero in front of your inner eye, who only knows car washes from driving past and who has one or two scratches on the bumpers?
The second generation of the Dacia Sandero as a used car
Modern technology from Juke, Clio and Co.
If so, the new Dacia Sandero is likely to mess up some beneficial worldviews. From January 2021, the small car will no longer use old corporate technology, but will get the current CMF platform (Common Module Family) from Renault-Nissan under the sheet metal. The current versions of Renault Clio and Captur as well as the Nissan Juke are also based on this.
LED headlights, more space in the rear, a steering wheel that can be adjusted in width for the first time and an emergency brake assistant that serves the Euro NCAP stars are now on board. Which increases the entry-level price for the Dacia Sandero Access from 7,790 euros to 8,490 euros (with 19 percent VAT). But even with that, the Sandero remains Germany’s cheapest new car. At least according to the list price.
Yes, it will still be a car without full wheel covers, with black aprons on the front and rear and ventilation instead of air conditioning. Not interesting? You think like most customers. 60 percent of Sandero buyers let themselves be carried away by the SUV tinsel of the Stepway version.
Sandero Stepway with SUV look
Ground clearance increased to 17.4 centimeters, a special grill design, alloy wheels under black wheel arches and bumpers with the look of an underride guard are in demand. 1,500 euros surcharge to the regular Sandero or not. So it’s no wonder that we chose the Romanian in the off-road look for our first meeting.
He also brings a trunk that has grown by eight to 328 liters and significantly more knee space in the rear. The manufacturer promises about four centimeters more length between the front and rear seats. In any case, tall people also fit nicely in the second row, sitting on comfortable cushions and enjoying sufficient headroom.
Backbenchers are celibate
At least there is a 12V socket here. Ventilation vents or even USB sockets did not make it through controlling. The door panels also want to convince with rustic simplicity rather than haptic escapades.
The front is more homely. In the Dacia Sandero Stepway, fabric makes up the dashboard and door panels. Orange design accents provide variety. A formidable position could now be set behind the steering wheel if the seat were not too flat.
The air conditioning system, which is standard in the higher equipment lines, can be upgraded to an automatic air conditioning system for a manageable surcharge of 200 euros. Then the temperature and air flow are controlled via fully locking knobs with displays that are familiar from Dacia Duster and Renault Captur. Unfortunately, Dacia refuses the Sandero seat heating, which is neither available for money nor for good words.
Infotainment with smartphone integration
The infotainment equipment is more customer-oriented. The driver’s smartphone is a central component. In the basic model, it is clicked into a bracket on the center console. A USB connection provides power, two speakers for entertainment.
A “media display” is also included in the Comfort models. Then the cockpit also presents a central touchscreen. The smartphone is inserted into a stable-looking holder and can also be supplied with power via USB.
You could actually do without the third expansion stage “Media Nav”. The in-house navigation system also shows the route, but modern apps such as Google Maps use swarm intelligence for real-time traffic data. Nevertheless, the Sandero Comfort surcharge of just 200 euros is worthwhile (while “Media Nav” is part of the Sandero Stepway Comfort series). Six instead of four speakers and wireless Apple CarPlay increase the listening experience and ease of use. However, the phone in the Sandero cannot yet charge inductively – this function will be submitted later.
This is how the new Sandero drives
But now enough looked, touched and played around with the smartphone. It’s about driving. The technical basis brings the engine program to the latest corporate standards. 999 cubic centimeters of displacement, distributed over three cylinders, are standard in the new Dacia Sandero.
The base with the name SCe 65 has a maximum output of 49 kW / 67 PS. We drove the Sandero Stepway TCe 90 (combined fuel consumption: 5.2 l / 100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 119 g / km²). A turbocharger provides additional power, which culminates in a maximum of 67 kW / 91 hp. The new Sandero is also available again as an LPG variant, which in addition to the petrol tank also carries up to 40 liters of liquid gas. In gas operation, the three-cylinder then delivers 100 hp.
Automatic without elastic band effect
Instead of the automated gearbox, a continuously variable automatic system can optionally be used in the Sandero TCe 90. It harmonizes well with the smooth-running three-cylinder. The maximum torque in connection with the 1,200 euro gear option drops slightly from 160 to 142 Newton meters, but it is already at an early 1750 rpm (switch 2,100 rpm). The wide speed plateau ensures that the notorious rubber band effect of a CVT transmission is largely absent during normal operation.
The Sandero only makes a loud noise when the engine is fully powered, when the speed levels off at just under 5,000 rpm, but then continues to accelerate with manageable vigor. A behavior pattern that he will rarely display in the wild.
Adult suspension setup
When driving relaxed from A to B to C or further to D, we like the good suspension comfort. The Sandero Stepway is sufficiently tight, but shows its characteristics for third-choice Eastern European secondary roads. The easy-to-swallow suspension prevents rumbling over joints or broken roots with flying colors.
The Dacia Sandero Stepway is supposed to consume 5.2 liters of petrol per 100 kilometers with the automatic CVT according to the WLTP standard. During the first test drives, we could not check this with precise refueling. However, the on-board computer throws significantly higher values of almost eight liters into the room.
Of course, a Dacia Sandero Stepway Comfort with turbo engine and automatic is far removed from the base price mentioned. This version costs 14,190 euros, but it also includes rain sensors, electric exterior mirrors, parking sensors at the rear and a roof rail that can be converted into a basic carrier.
With fairly calculated options, the test car doesn’t look poor at all: keyless entry and engine start, reversing camera, blind spot warning, window lifters in the rear and the aforementioned automatic air conditioning make it chic. And more expensive. 16,240 euros are under the total line. A lot of money for a Dacia Sandero – but still very little for so much car.
The third generation of the Dacia Sandero will undoubtedly ensure that the small five-door remains a bestseller. The Romanian brings modern technology, more space for passengers and luggage and decent processing at slightly higher tariffs. The first copies will roll out to dealers in mid-January. (Text and image: Bernd Conrad)