On the road: The new Dacia Sandero Stepway
On the road: The new Dacia Sandero Stepway

Ian Lamming counts the pennies in the remarkable Dacia Sandero Stepway, proof you can get more than you pay for

THIS is the madness of the automotive world in which I live.

It’s car change-over day and on the driveway are two cars, one just delivered, the other waiting to be collected. In some ways they are similar, in others at the opposite end of the spectrum, but in their own right they are impressive.

On the right is the new Bentley Bentayga with a significant optional extra, the Mulliner driving specification, which briefly means posh leather seats and a fancy armrest. The price? A cool £12,335.00. That’s just for the optional extra by the way.

On the left is a similarly anointed SUV, the new Dacia Sandero Stepway. The price? A cool £12,305.00. That’s for the whole car by the way. Yup, for the price of the posh seats you can buy a whole car, and a darn fine one at that. Crazy eh? Bonkers.

I’ve always been a fan of Dacias. I can’t help it. It’s the Yorkshire blood running through these veins. They are just such amazing value. Duster was my fave but the new Sandero has just come on leaps and bounds thanks to great new good looks, particularly in off-roader-esque Stepway trim.

I love its new suit of clothes. It is so well proportioned, muscular in fact, with attractive front grille and trendy signature LED lights. The back end is smart too, very neat, and the whole car looks so much better on the road; bigger, bolder, with a quality sheen. People did look over, quizzically, interested, but not recognising the badge or knowing how to pronounce it (it’s like a sneeze, by the way, Dach-cha). It’s a fine looking car and so much better than its tiny price tag would suggest. If you didn’t tell people the cost, then they would never know.

It’s the same with the drive. I’ve no idea the power unit is a teeny 999cc until I check the spec-sheet because this tiny turbo flies, off the mark, past the slowbees and up the hills. It even sounds and feels good under acceleration, which is remarkable, as is the economy with 50+mpg easily achievable.

Clutch and gearbox are fine specimens. It’s like driving a Renault – no surprise who the parent company is then.

Then there’s the interior, minimalist, yes, but comfortable and well specified with touch screen on the dash, uncluttered instruments and easy to use controls. It all goes to make Sandero a very easy car to live with on a day to day basis.

Cabin space is excellent and so is the boot with a well-shaped and flat load bay for the bulk in your life, more still if you lower the rear seats. It’s a full-on family car for five, that’s for sure. Trim is interesting on the eye with plenty of texture giving the Dacia greater depth of character.

When you are tired and have a long way to go – that’s most days then – it is amazingly caring, looking after driver and passengers in a protective cocoon free from noise, harshness and vibration. Ride, grip and handling are great.

When people approach I am proud to sing Stepway’s praises because the Dacia is a great car in every way. In the same way as the Bentley’s leather is a mind-boggling figure, it’s just as mad that the Sandero is such a bargain price. It’s a crazy automotive world indeed.

Fact File

Dacia Sandero Stepway TCe90

Engine: 999cc turbo petrol

Power: 91HP

0-62mph: 11.7 secs

Top speed: 111mph

Combined MPG: 53.3

Transmission: six-speed manual

CO2 g/km: 120

Price: £12,305.00 including extras