Dacia Sandero Stepway 1.5dCi Laureate review
More than half of Dacia Sandero buyers are expected to opt for the Stepway version with its off-roader look and raised ride height. Prices will be from £7,995 to £10,795 when it arrives in UK showrooms in May. Extra fittings such as body-coloured bumpers and mirrors, fog lamps and metallic paint as standard, for not a lot of extra money, makes the car look better value than the standard hatchback if you want/ need that sort of look. It certainly could help the Dacia hold its value better.
The car's warranty can be extended for up to seven years (100,000 miles) for an extra £850. Sandero has not yet been tested in the EuroNCAP crash tests (the 2008 version scored three stars out of five) but all versions have driver and passenger front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, ISOFIX anchorage points for child seats, rear door child locks, electronic stability control, traction control and daytime running lights as standard.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
Unlike the Sandero hatch, the SUV aping Stepway 'crossover' isn't available with the 74bhp 1.2 litre petrol engine; it's the peppy 89bhp three-cylinder petrol turbo or the 89bhp dCi four-cylinder turbo-diesel. With 162 lbs ft or torque, compared to 99 lbs ft, for the petrol, the diesel makes the car easier to drive with less need to change gear, but you do get more vibration through the pedals and the car body. You don't buy one of these if you are looking for performance thrills but 0-62mph in 11.8 seconds (11.1s for the petrol) keeps up with traffic okay. Top speed is 103mph (down on the hatchback by five or six mph).
An extra 40mm of ride height made me feel happier tackling a roughish track in the Stepway, but it doesn't impede the handling if cornering briskly as you slide sideways in the seat before the tyres are close to losing grip on a normal road surface. As with the hatchback the Stepway feels 'floaty' at speed over undulating surfaces but my colleague and I rated the ride comfort better than the hatch. You are more aware of weight transfer under braking but stability is adequate. Steering is acceptably accurate and gives a good enough feel for the grip under the powered front wheels. The five-speed manual gear change is light but was vague on some cars.
The 4x4 styling gives the Dacia Sandero Stepway more on street presence than the standard supermini hatchback but without creating a clumsy handling machine. It's easier to get in and out of too. Most people would over-estimate its price, especially with metallic paint which also is standard. The interior plastics and seat trims look downmarket compared to some European offerings such as the plusher Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo but promise to be hard wearing based on models sold abroad since 2008. It is worth emphasising that despite the looks the Stepway remains front wheel drive only. It is 4081mm long and 1732mm in width.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Personal perception and the car you know matters so much here. Mechanical refinement is poorer than most superminis, and vibration through the steering and pedals really irritates me, but I suspect most people because they don't wear 'road tester' hats wouldn't be that bothered.
Like some lower priced Japanese cars the steering doesn't adjust for reach, only tilts, and being tall that bugs me too. A height adjustable driver's seat helps compensate. Yes, the seats could be better and bigger, but every time you keep coming back to the price and that's a strong balancing argument; especially when you get easy to operate air conditioning, cruise control and speed limiter as standard.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Official fuel figures are 61.4mpg on the urban test cycle and 70.6mpg on the combined one. Road testing is never good for fuel consumption but gentle cruising with some town work saw 57.4mpg on the on-board computer. Carbon dioxide exhaust emissions of 105g/km put the Sandero Stepway into road tax group B which exempts the car from first year taxation. The tax is then £20 per annum after that. A three-year / 60,000 mile warranty on the car can be extended to five years (for £395) or even seven years/100,000 miles for an extra £850.
A gearshift indicator encourages early up changes and an 'ECO' button adjusts engine torque and power used by electric systems including the air conditioning to reduce fuel consumption by up to a claimed 10%. You need to pick your moments as it makes life a bit labourious and I preferred to use my 'intelligent' right foot instead. The system can be over-ridden by a hard push on the accelerator pedal. Dacia says its cars are made in plants certified to ISO 14001 standards of 'green' efficiency. About 95% of the car's materials, by weight, will be reusable at the end of the vehicle's lifecycle. At least 7% of vehicle plastics on new Eco2 vehicles are made from recycled plastics. The tested model has been given a Next Green Car Rating of 30.
It looks a big jump from the entry level Sandero at £5,995 to £10,795 for the Stepway Laureate tested here, but you can get an Ambiance trim Stepway for £7,995. Standard equipment on the Laureate include 15 inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, chrome front grille, body-coloured door handles and door mirrors, graphite central console surround, leather steering wheel and gear knob. You also get manual air conditioning, electric rear windows, seven –function on-board computer, radio with CD player including MP3 CD reader with fingertip controls and four speakers, cruise control and speed limiter, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, height-adjustable driver's seat, front passenger reading spotlight. Options include different alloy wheels, seven inch Media Nav touch screen multimedia system, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery and emergency spare wheel.
Model tested: Dacia Sandero Stepway 1.5dCi Laureate
Body-style: Five-door 'crossover'
Engine/CO2: 89bhp 1461cc four-cylinder turbo diesel / 105 gCO2/km
Trim grades: Ambience and Laureate
On-road price: Ambiance models from £7,995. Test car £10,795
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: May
Review rating: 3.5 STARS