Dacia Sandero Stepway 2021 review

The Stepway is a more rugged-looking version of the regular Sandero hatchback

£9,496
Average price
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2
Out of 5

Pros

  • Attractive styling
  • Spacious interior
  • Undercuts many other superminis

Cons

  • Pricier than a standard Sandero
  • Limited safety kit
  • Regular Sandero gets more trim and engine choice
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model review

You’ll probably know the Dacia Sandero for one thing – its price. That’s because, ever since the Renault-owned firm launched in the UK in 2013 – it’s consistently been the UK’s most affordable new car, and ideal for those wanting something box fresh, but at the same price as a used car. 

But alongside the standard Sandero hatchback, Dacia introduced a ‘Stepway’ model, which offers chunkier styling thanks to its raised suspension, rugged plastic cladding and roof rails. Offering a more stylish take than the standard Sandero, it’s proven a very popular model with buyers, and is actually more popular than the regular car these days – no doubt being spurred on by drivers looking for crossover-styled vehicles. 

The Stepway was introduced at the same time as the regular Sandero in 2013, and received a noticeable facelift in late 2016, introducing more standard features, more efficient engines and a more stylish front end with new LED daytime running lights.

Latest model

But it’s the second-generation Sandero Stepway that’s our priority here, with this model hitting showrooms in 2021. It’s a brand-new model, which sits on the same underpinnings as the Renault Clio – a model that’s a seriously credible performer in the supermini class. 

Offering fresher exterior styling with new LED headlights, a far more pleasant interior and raft of new technology – including an eight-inch touchscreen – it aims to make up for the weaknesses of its predecessor. The new model is also far roomier inside than before, while also gets an LPG fuel option, meaning you can run the car or gas. The latter can really help to reduce your running costs. 

Value for money

Value for money is undoubtedly Dacia’s greatest strength, and even though prices have increased over the years, the Sandero continues to offer a lot for your cash. Though the standard car starts from £8,995, the Stepway is only offered with more powerful engines, and is priced from £11,895. Compared to a like-for-like Sandero, though, the Stepway costs £1,600 more, which is quite a lot when you consider that it’s only really styling tweaks that you benefit from. However, it still undercuts all its rivals, while standard equipment remains generous for the price – including Bluetooth, automatic LED headlights and cruise control. Even a top-spec version with all the bells and whistles still comfortably undercuts the cheapest Ford Fiesta you can buy. 

When it comes to used Sandero Stepways, earlier high-mileage examples start from only around £3,000, though you’ll have to spend around £4,000 for something with 70,000 miles on the clock. Usefully, these models tend to hold their value well, and largely retain the extra money that you’d spend on one in the first place. At the time of writing, the second-generation Stepway had only reached showrooms, and therefore there were few savings on offer by choosing a nearly-new car.

Looks and image

While the latest Sandero is certainly more eye-catching than its predecessor, the regular car is still quite bland to look at. It’s therefore not surprising that many choose the Stepway version instead for its more attractive styling. While there’s the obvious plastic cladding on display, look closer and you’ll see that it has a different grille, along with metal skid plates around the car to give it a chunkier profile. It also sits 17cm higher up than the standard model, while its roof bars can also be converted into a roof rack capable of carrying loads up to 80kg. 

Inside, the Stepway also gets its own bespoke orange trim and upholstery to make it stand out from the crowd, while generally the interior on this latest car is a huge step up compared to its predecessor. Though entry-level cars still miss out on a touchscreen, higher-spec models get an impressive eight-inch unit, while the quality has improved significantly elsewhere. While there are still far more hard plastics on display in the Dacia compared to rivals, it’s worth factoring in just how much more affordable than a Sandero is. 

Don’t be fooled by the chunky styling, though, as there’s no off-road trickery here and it remains largely the same to drive as its sibling model. Though a big improvement compared to the Sandero before, it’s at its best when driven sensibly, where its comfortable ride, soft suspension and great visibility will make it a very easy car to live with. 

Space and practicality

Given the Sandero’s bargain price, you might expect it to be rather cramped inside, but that’s far from the case, and it is in fact one of the roomiest cars in its segment – more so than models like the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. 

The boot measures 328 litres, while there’s more than enough rear space (Dacia says the Sandero is class-leading in this area) for adults to be able to get comfortable. 

Engines

While Dacia offers an entry-level 64bhp petrol unit on the standard Sandero, the Stepway is only available with more powerful options. 

Let’s start with the TCe 90, which uses a 89bhp turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine that’s available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or CVT automatic transmission. With a manual, it can reach 0-60mph in 11.8 seconds, though that time increases to 14 seconds with the CVT. 

Dacia also offers a ‘Bi-Fuel’ model, which is able to run on both petrol and LPG gas. Using a 1.0-litre engine, it produces 99bhp,  and can hit 0-60mph in 11.7 seconds. 

Running costs

While all the Sandero models should be cheap to run, if you really want to drive down costs, it’s worth choosing the Bi-Fuel model. That’s because LPG, which it can run on, costs roughly half the price of petrol, and offers the potential to save up to £600 on fuel costs per year, according to Dacia. You can also flick between LPG and petrol at the press of a button too, with no noticeable impact on performance. 

In terms of standard fuel economy, Dacia claims between 45.6mpg and 50.4mpg, depending on version. 

Things to look out for

While the latest Dacia Sandero had only recently gone on sale at the time, there’s little to suggest that much will go wrong with this supermini, while the predecessor proved to be a dependable choice – helped by the fact there wasn’t too much that could go wrong with it. 

Rivals

In terms of rugged-looking supermini rivals, the choice is quite limited, with the Ford Fiesta Active probably being the next best option, if at a steeper price. You could also look at the Suzuki Ignis (which is also available with four-wheel-drive) and the MG ZS as a budget crossover. 

More conventional supermini rivals include the Suzuki Swift, Mazda2 and mechanically similar Renault Clio

Depreciation

Given Dacias have an affordable price in the first place, there isn’t as much money for them to lose as with rivals. They do – and the Sandero Stepway especially – hold their value impressively well, and remain desirable used car options for those looking to buy on a budget, 

Which Sandero Stepway to pick

Cheapest to buy when new

1.0 TCe Bi-Fuel Essential 5dr

Most MPG

1.0 TCe Bi-Fuel Essential 5dr

Fastest model (0-60)

1.0 TCe Bi-Fuel Essential 5dr

Trims explained

Three trim levels are available on the Sandero Stepway – Essential, Comfort and Prestige. Equipment highlights and prices are as follows.

Essential

Standard equipment on the Essential includes automatic LED headlights, 16-inch wheels, tinted windows, an automatic emergency E-Call service and autonomous emergency braking. You also get cruise control and a speed limiter, air conditioning, electric front windows, remote locking, DAB radio and Bluetooth.

From £11,895

Comfort

Comfort would be our pick of the range as this adds an eight-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, front fog lights, rear parking sensors and automatic wipers. You also get electric rear windows, keyless entry and a reversing camera, electric mirrors and more softer interior materials.

From £13,495

Prestige

At the top of the range, the Prestige comes with 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, an electric parking brake and central armrest Front parking sensors, blind spot warning, automatic air conditioning and an upgraded touchscreen with satellite navigation are also included.

From £14,295

Summary

  1. Rugged-looking version of the Dacia Sandero
  2. Pricier to buy than a standard Sandero…
  3. But still great value for money
  4. Roomy interior
  5. Actually quite eye-catching to look at
  6. Comfortable to drive
  7. Decent standard equipment levels
  8. LPG model available
  9. Low running costs
  10. One of the better small cars on the market

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