DACIA SANDERO STEPWAY III.
From Stefan Pabeschitz
Vienna – What a car supposedly has to be today, the majority of manufacturers are constantly trying to explain to us in detail – they mostly forget the most important thing: that it has to be affordable for others. Renault subsidiary Dacia has dedicated itself to this topic. The concept of less frippery but enough utility has proven extremely successful over the past sixteen years since the brand was relaunched. The first Sandero was available in Austria from 2008 and quickly became a bestseller with a base price of 7990 euros. His grandchildren are now even making inflation ridiculous twelve years later and with considerably more equipment at a starting price of 8490 euros. Even if the basic model only comes with a rather meager 65 HP and without radio – even with the more powerful 90 HP turbo gasoline engine with top equipment plus navigation system and a few other options from the list of options, it will hardly be more than 13,000 euros.
Otherwise, the Sandero has clearly grown up with the generation change. Not only because of the slight increase in size of three centimeters – the somewhat staid arbitrariness in the design has been lost, it now looks more sophisticated and solid, with the lower roof line and the longer wheelbase at the same time more elegant. The new Y-shaped graphic of the daytime running lights anticipates the distinguishing feature of future Dacia models, the bright LED low beam is already part of the standard equipment.
The interior has increased in size and ergonomics as well as in layout and material quality. The horizontal middle element, covered with hard-wearing fabric, loosens up the business-like atmosphere. The sorting of the analog and digital control elements was also successful. A multimedia system with control from the steering wheel or via the Dacia Media Control smartphone app is on board. The top trim level Comfort includes a complete infotainment system with its own 8-inch touchscreen.
The basic requirements for progress are also met by the 65 HP naturally aspirated engine, but the 1500 Euro extra price for the 90 HP turbo variant is recommended as a profitable system. The 1-liter three-cylinder with 999 cubic centimeters is a lot of fun with its agile to even lively character, the nominal 11.7 seconds for the hundred sprint feel subjectively much less. In addition, the more powerful engine delivers its extra power by one gram of CO2 per kilometer in a more environmentally friendly way with the same fuel requirement and, according to the new formula for engine-related insurance tax, is even slightly cheaper to maintain.
In terms of noise insulation, Dacia has noticeably improved quality and can measure up to significantly more expensive competitors in the segment. In general, the new Sandero is overall much more robust and fuller than its predecessor, the use of the common group platform, on which Renault Clio and Capture are also located, has a positive effect here. On the transmission side, six gears are now available instead of the previous five, well coordinated and with a pleasant feel on the gear stick. For those who don’t like gearshifts, there is an automatic option in the program for 1200 euros, whereby the previous robotized gearbox has been replaced by a CVT variant, which hides its continuously variable character with digitally simulated gear steps in a remarkably credible way. With a little more ground clearance and trendy plastic planking, the Sandero Stepway looks like an SUV fig leaf like before. The surcharge for this is 1000 euros, which is also reflected in additional equipment features.