Crossover style in supermini-sized package: From £7,995
Simple line-up in two variants: Ambiance and Lauréate
Two engines: TCe 90 petrol and 1.5 dCi 90 diesel
Order books open from 1st January 2013 – retailer and online
Available to test drive in Dacia retailers from May 2013
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Not long after sending chills through its rivals with details of its first two UK models, the Sandero supermini and Duster SUV, the ever-ambitious Dacia brand is now turning up the heat with “shockingly affordable” prices for its third model, the Sandero Stepway.
Having already announced the country’s “most affordable new car” and “most affordable new SUV” (as well as 4×4), Dacia is now cementing its reputation for great prices with the “UK’s most affordable supermini crossover”.
The marque’s new baby only peeked out from under the covers at the Paris motor show in September. But, hot on the heels of its two siblings which land in Dacia Retailers in January, it’ll be ready to woo British buyers in the metal from May 2013.
With three models now waiting in the wings, Dacia, the “smart buy” offshoot of Renault, is pulling out all the stops to ensure its the first stop-off for any new and used car buyer when it comes to value.
The current version of the Sandero Stepway, on sale since 2008, has been a smash-hit around the globe. Making up around half of all Sandero sales, especially in Europe and South America, the Stepway’s SUV-style and jaw-dropping prices have proved a winning combination. With an all new-look, it’ll be looking to blaze a similar trail over here. And, with prices starting at under £8,000, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
On top of typically eye-catching Dacia prices and a modern SUV-inspired design, the new model also packs plenty of other enticing features. The first, thanks to its 40mm extra ground clearance, is its ability to tackle trickier terrains, not to mention kerbs, which would likely send less intrepid small cars scurrying the other way. It’s got a family-friendly-sized boot too. At 320 litres with the 60/40 split-folding rear seats in place, once they’re dropped, it hits the heady heights of 1,200 litres.
It looks the part, too, and comes with surprisingly generous levels of standard equipment, including electric front windows, front fog lights and roof bars. But, as canny car buyers are starting to expect, the clincher is its price. It only costs a fraction more than the standard Sandero. Yet it has even more kit.
You’ll be able to pick up Dacia’s third eye-poppingly-priced débutante for a little less than £8,000. A fiver under to be exact. Meaning the first one likely to appeal to fervent bargain hunters is the Ambiance TCe 90 petrol.
Only £600 more than the same version of Sandero, the most obvious differences are on the outside, courtesy of its chunky off-road look. With satin chrome roof bars, front and rear scuff plates and black wheel arch extenders, it’s likely to attract more attention than a Christmas bauble covered James May on Oxford Street. Backing up its purposeful demeanour are a set of 16” alloy-look wheels and body coloured bumpers and door mirrors.
Belying its “shockingly affordable” price tag, the two Ambiance versions also come loaded with Bluetooth, metallic paint and a radio/CD system with fingertip controls. Being a Renault Group product, safety gear hasn’t been skimped on either. For maximum passenger protection, Sandero Stepway benefits from seatbelts with calibrated load limiters for thorax protection in the event of impact, plus rear seat Isofix anchorage points. That’s on top of the standard fit driver, passenger and front side airbags and ESC.
Rounding off the comprehensive kit tally is an ECO mode button. Perfectly in keeping with Dacia’s value roots and at a time when fuel prices keep on rocketing, it should help owners eke out every last drop. By limiting engine torque, this neat little device can improve fuel consumption by up to 10%.
Moving up the range, but with plenty left over for a festive splurge, the Sandero Stepway range-topper comes in the form, as usual, of Lauréate. Mirroring the high kit count of the equivalent Sandero, it proffers air conditioning, a chrome front grille, full electric windows and electric heated door mirrors.
Even better, as the flagship of Dacia’s small car line-up, it also packs a MediaNav seven-inch touchscreen multimedia system with satellite navigation, AUX and USB inputs and four speakers. Plus, it’s also got cruise control, speed limiter and rear parking sensors. Yes, amazing isn’t it? And no, you did read that right and this isn’t Press information mixed up with that of a premium manufacturer.
Inside its spacious and curvaceous body, it also conceals a height adjustable steering wheel and driver’s seat, leather steering wheel and gear knob and seven-function trip computer. For those looking to indulge themselves with a touch of luxury, dark carbon leather upholstery (with synthetic leather side bolsters) is available at an equally affordable £600.
Four body colours are available to choose from, all in metallic hues. Cinder Red, Mercury, Pearl Black and Azurite Blue.
Already proving a huge attraction on Duster and Sandero, the latest model will also give customers the chance to add on keenly priced accessories. On Sandero Stepway this extends to a Touring Pack. For £495 including VAT, it features several items which are likely to prove a boon on jaunts away, including a boot luggage net and transversal roof bars. It also boasts a centre armrest and an alarm.
Dacia’s reliability is second to none. The brand was voted “Europe’s most reliable car brand” in a survey of 30,000 car owners in five western European countries last year. But, even so, for customers considering this latest model, as well as the other two in the initial UK line-up, the fledgling brand is giving them the option of buying an extended warranty to match rival products if they wish. The five- and seven year options cost £395 and £850, again including VAT.
Tipping the scales at a little over a tonne and allied to two frugal engines, it’s no surprise that Sandero Stepway has some attention-grabbing stats up its sleeve too.
The first, the TCe 90 packs a hefty punch for such a diminutive package. The direct-injection, turbocharged, three-cylinder 0.9-litre produces an impressive 90hp, yet returns 52.3 mpg and CO2 emissions of only 125g/km.
Fuel-sipping diesel power arrives courtesy of the dCi 90. Recently upgraded, the torquey 1.5-litre powertrain has impressive CO2 emissions of only 105g/km, meaning zero road tax, allied to 70.6 mpg fuel economy.
UK versions of Dacia’s latest addition will be produced at the Pitesti plant in Romania, the same as Sandero. Ordering for the Dacia Sandero Stepway opens online at http://www.dacia.co.uk and in Dacia retailers from 1st January, before arriving later in May.