11th October 2021
Doing a bit of research the other day, I was surprised at the prices of some fairly mundane superminis. As I was doing this, the Dacia Sandero Stepway arrived and the first thing I did was check out its list price. Turns out the Dacia in Prestige TCe 90 Auto form is £15,095, or £15,805 as tested with metallic paint and a spare wheel as options. That feels like decent value to me, though of course lease prices are what matter to company users and the Dacia still performs well here.
The Stepway gets some natty orange stitching inside to help justify its higher price over the standard Sandero. The mix of colours and materials inside the cabin works well, but the plastic door trims betray the car’s budget price. The same is true of the feel of the steering wheel and other controls, which all feel a grade down on a Renault Clio’s that come from the same overall stable.
A quiet day, so I’ve grabbed the opportunity to head to the supermarket sans kids for a change. There’s no problem slinging in the shopping bags to the boot of the Stepway as it’s plenty big enough. It also comes with two bag hooks on either side of the boot to keep the shopping from spilling all over the floor. A neat and simple touch that’s sadly lacking in many of the Dacia’s rivals.
This slightly more off-road style of Sandero is reckoned to account for about two-thirds of sales of the model by Dacia. It’s easy to see why after today’s trip on typical A- and B-roads as the suspension makes easy work of the potholes. I wouldn’t say it’s very refined, but it is effective and the Stepway’s size also means it can nip past oncoming traffic on the narrower sections without hesitation.
A trip up to Perth for work this morning and joining the dual carriageway is hard work. The 1.0-litre TCe engine is generally a good thing in any car it’s fitted to. However, in this Stepway it’s been mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) with six programmed steps to emulate gears. As a consequence, it is slug-like in picking up pace and any economy benefits are undermined by having to plant your foot down hard to gather momentum.
An unseasonably warm day means turning the air con down low in the Dacia. It’s more than up to the job and soon cools that cabin as the kids and I head off for the usual round of activities this morning. I’m also a fan of the simple rotary dials that Dacia uses for the heating and ventilation – why do so many other car companies make it more complicated than this? On the move, adjusting the fan speed or temperature in the Sandero is an absolute doddle.
Another day of mixed driving and my only major criticism of this Sandero Stepway is the fundamental poor response of the auto gearbox. Swap this for a manual and the Dacia would be a very appealing budget option with lots of space and decent kit. However, the auto is so slow I find myself pre-empting it out of corners by pressing the throttle earlier than otherwise expected.