Practical experience Dacia Sandero: the most popular

‘The car drives very well, is relatively quiet and steers smoothly’

Dacia Sandero

You often read about the success of the Tesla Model 3 and Y. Electric cars that are doing above average in our country and throughout Europe. Balance comes from an unexpected source: the relatively simple Dacia Sandero is also regularly the best-selling car in Europe. How do owners experience this budget stunner?

Do not interpret that ‘budget bomb’ scornfully, Dacia’s success deserves respect. Because Tesla may be a fairly young brand, the Romanian brand has only been active in its current form for twenty years. The ‘much for little’ formula turns out to be a golden opportunity, and with a starting price of €17,500, the Sandero competes with compact models from the A-segment. You then get fairly up-to-date technology: under the hood you will find modern TCe engines from Renault, with or without an LPG system.

Dacia Sandero Stepway

Ease of use and seating comfort

It seems that the average Sandero driver takes the amount of space for granted, because owners pay little attention to it. “Practically, the car offers sufficient space, also in the back,” reports the driver of a 2023 Sandero TCe 90 Stepway. There are good comments about the seats, such as those of the following TCe 100 Bi-Fuel driver: “Coming from a Kangoo, the seating position is different, but the seats provide good support and are sufficiently hard.”

The owner of a Sandero TCe 100 Stepway took it on holiday, which pleased all passengers. “The seats and backseat provided enough support and were comfortable,” he says. “There was never a time when we had to get out because the ‘furniture’ became uncomfortable.” He also points out another trick of the Stepway version. “Because we had a roof box, this meant that we turned the (standard) roof rails 90 degrees. Really smart of Dacia, that you just have standard roof rails with you and you don’t have to dig into your pockets to buy roof racks.” As with the interior space, the controls and infotainment do not present any notable features.

Dacia Sandero

On the road with the Sandero

Most riders praise the ease with which their Sandero drives. “It’s not a sports car, if you read some reviews about the driving characteristics. But that’s not why you buy a car like that,” says the owner of a Sandero TCe 100 Bi-Fuel Stepway. “It is a nice cruiser that, especially if you cover a few more kilometers, offers a lot of value for the money.”

Another Stepway owner made such a long drive. “Drived to Limoges yesterday with my wife,” he writes. “So nice and quiet, light three-cylinder roar in the background, wind noise past the windows, but quiet.” A rider who is now on his second Sandero underlines this. “The Sandero drives wonderfully comfortably, although the old model was slightly more stable. What is certainly better compared to the old model is the peace and quiet in the car. This one has a six-speed gearbox, which is definitely an improvement.” A fourth rider, again with a Stepway, describes the experience as follows. “The car drives very well, is relatively quiet and steers smoothly.”

Dacia Sandero Stepway

But it’s not just hosanna. The next driver is satisfied with his Stepway TCe 90, but only to a certain extent. “The car is comfortable for long distances, cruise control at a maximum of 110 km/h. Because as soon as you drive 120, I notice a noisy car and the consumption increases very quickly.” A rider who does not own the Sandero, but rented it, also made himself heard. “Steering is terrible,” is the conclusion. “The first day I thought: incomprehensible that such a car is approved for the road. You steer completely in a vacuum. You turn and apparently the position of the wheels changes. To what extent does the car change direction? You only notice that afterwards.” But that will also be fine. “After a day you have learned which position of the steering wheel causes the car to change direction to a certain extent.”

Dacia Sandero (Lars Krijgsman)

Just a full-fledged luggage compartment, but no spare wheel in the Sandero on autogas.

Driving on LPG

Many drivers opt for the Bi-Fuel variant of the Sandero, which in addition to petrol also runs on LPG (autogas). A pretty seamless experience, as it turns out. “It always starts on petrol first. In the summer it automatically switches to LPG after 10 seconds, in the winter I think you have to drive about 1 to 2 km before it switches to LPG,” experiences the owner of a TCe 100 Bi-Fuel from 2022. By the way, he does not choose everyone opted for LPG, the next driver even consciously opted for petrol. “Some calculations: road tax for LPG version is €284 more per year. I can also buy gasoline for that. That gives 3,800 km … what is the turning point? Also less luggage space, and a 9 km detour to refuel.”

The next rider does have a point of attention. “After the car was about 6 months old, it started running poorly and as soon as the LPG was switched on (very quickly) it was over. The tank of petrol was emptied once and I filled up with Euro 98 from BP. At BP they are one of the few petrol stations that do not yet have any ethanol in their Euro 98 petrol. Then half a tank was thrown in, and half a year later almost all of it was left. Because the car only starts on petrol and when it is cold it takes a few minutes before it switches to LPG, but when it is warmer it immediately switches to LPG after starting.” In short, E10 gasoline ages before the average gas driver can empty the gas tank.

Dacia Sandero (Lars Krijgsman)

Maintenance, malfunctions and annoyances

That brings us to other problems. There are, because not every Sandero appears to be without problems. To do this, we will first stick to the LPG installation. One rider reports clicking noises while filling up with gas, so loud that bystanders make comments about it. “The dealer indicated that it was caused by the ball in the filler neck, and as you now know, the diagnosis remained the same.” Another part of the gas installation is also malfunctioning. “The fuel cap on the LPG tank was broken after four refuelings. It still works, but we have found a workaround.”

The rider who previously reported engine deficiency now provides insight into maintenance costs. “A year had passed and the necessary kilometers had now also been covered for that maintenance. It has had new oil, a new LPG filter and a whole series of updates. After these updates from the dealer, I was able to update the navigation myself, which was not possible at first (from 2019 to 2021 maps). This first maintenance cost €270.”

Dacia Sandero Stepway endurance test

The driver of a 2021 Sandero TCe 100 reports a noise under the hood. “The well-known rattling of the wastegate control rod, I also have it in my leg, Renault/Dacia should come up with a solution this year, I’ll wait and see …” A few other complaints also concern rattling noises, but in the interior, including the A-pillars. “I solved this by pushing a piece of rubber between the dashboard and the window,” says the pragmatic owner.

Dacia Sandero Stepway endurance test

The Dacia Sandero therefore largely does what is expected of it: providing cheap and relatively comfortable transport from A to B. This is not without concessions, because things can sometimes rattle. Furthermore, the steering does not seem to be very communicative, although that is not a problem for owners of this car. They prefer to enjoy the relative peace on board, and of course the cheap LPG refueling.

Dacia Sandero Stepway

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