The new Dacia Sandero Stepway on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Dacia Sandero Stepway on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the new Dacia Sandero Stepway!

In 2021 the new Dacia Sandero and Dacia Sandero Stepway arrived in Ireland. It’s the crossover-inspired Sandero Stepway that’s the subject of this review!

With pricing starting from €12,990 for the Sandero and from €15,990 for the Sandero Stepway, these twins remain truly affordable in today’s new car market.

With a new platform, there are now more features for the Sandero including new engines including a Bi-Fuel LPG option, a new automatic transmission and new six-speed manual.

The Dacia Sandero Stepway is the more adventurous of this duo with standard features including a raised ride height, roof rails, skid plate and lashings of plastic cladding – mandatory for any hatchback masquerading as an SUV!

What’s so special about the Dacia Sandero Stepway?

In truth we love the look of this new Sandero Stepway, especially in a bright hue like the Desert Orange of the test car. The raised ride height gives it more visual presence whether on the road or in the car park. It has a sort of plucky, robust charm that belies its budget beginnings. In fact the Stepway is already Ireland’s favourite version of the Sandero, representing over 60 per cent of all sales of the model in Ireland.

Exterior dimensions are similar to the previous generation of the car but there is a wider track and more pronounced wheel arches, a lower roof, sloped windscreen and smoother lines throughout. All versions feature LED lighting with a new Y-shaped LED signature at the front, and LED-effect four-element lighting signature at the rear. How glam!

The Dacia Sandero Stepway goes on sale priced from €15,990 in Ireland
The Dacia Sandero Stepway goes on sale priced from €15,990 in Ireland

What are my options?

In Ireland the Sandero Stepway is offered in three trim levels – Essential (from €15,990), Comfort (from €17,790) and Prestige (from €19,290).

All models feature automatic headlamps with improved visibility from the LED light units. Other features include emergency brake assist, hill start assist, blind spot warning and park assist.

Standard equipment includes cruise control, manual air con, DAB radio with steering wheel-mounted controls, display integrated into the dashboard computer screen, smartphone holder on the dashboard, 2 front speakers and Bluetooth® connection, while the Prestige model on test had soft feel steering wheel, front fog lamps, power mirrors, keyless entry, automatic wipers, 8″ touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera, automatic air con and 16″ diamond effect alloy wheels.

Engine options include a 1.0-litre TCe petrol with 90 hp and a CVT automatic gearbox or a 1.0-litre TCe BiFuel version (100 hp) with a petrol and LPG tank for even better value when it comes to running the car.

The interior of the new Dacia Sandero Stepway
The interior of the new Dacia Sandero Stepway

Inside the 2021 Dacia Sandero Stepway!

It’s all looking good so far. The interior has also improved in design and quality. The new generation Sandero interior looks a lot more modern with an 8″ glossy touchscreen on all but the very entry model that is compatible with smartphones, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Quality has been improved so Sandero is looking like an even better prospect. Hard plastics feature copiously but the addition of unique orange detailing on the air vents and orange stitching on the upholstery in the Stepway model brightens the interior. There are also some stylish fabric inserts on the dashboard. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake.

The cabin of the Sandero Stepway feels spacious for a compact vehicle. There’s an extra 42 mm of legroom in the rear and it is one of the most spacious in its class. The boot is perfect supermini size too! It has increased to 328 litres and passengers also have more space to put their belongings, with up to 21 litres of storage space dotted throughout the cabin.

The Sandero Stepway has crossover-inspired styling upgrades
The Sandero Stepway has crossover-inspired styling for a more adventurous look!

What’s it like to drive?

The latest Dacia Sandero Stepway sits on a new platform and has been designed to deliver better handling, greater steering precision, more efficient engines and improved refinement over the previous model. The CMF modular platform underpinning this car combines greater resistance and rigidity with less weight. Sandero and Stepway models are fitted with a new front axle with rectangular suspension arms that provide more effective shock absorption and enhanced steering.

Anti-roll capacity has been improved and the wheelbase extended for greater cornering stability, while the track is 29mm wider on Stepway to improve handling and behaviour on the road. The new engine mount has been improved with a lighter and stiffer cradle to minimise vibrations in the cabin too.

Here’s where the Dacia Sandero Stepway gets really interesting! New engines including a three cylinder 1.0-litre TCe Bi-Fuel petrol engine with an LPG tank. It’s matched to a 6-speed manual gearbox.

Dacia is the only car manufacturer to offer LPG and petrol Bi-Fuel options across its entire range of passenger cars. The cars are converted in the factory, guaranteeing safety and reliability with the LPG tank located in the spare wheel well and filling nozzle next to the petrol filler. LPG (liquid petroleum gas) is sold cheaper at the pump than petrol from some fuel stations around Ireland. The Sandero has 50 litres for petrol and 40 litres for the LPG tank.

The Dacia Sandero Stepway - surprise hit of the year
The Dacia Sandero Stepway – surprise hit of the year

Did you like it?

On the road the Dacia Sandero Stepway feels nippy and agile. It is softly sprung offering a very comfortable driving experience for a small car. It holds the road pretty well too. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.3 litres per 100 km.

The step up in quality and design is much welcome in the Sandero stable. The Stepway is a car that you won’t just buy because of the sticker price; it looks really good too with very on-trend crossover-inspired styling cues.

Sandero and Stepway already have a loyal following of fans in Ireland who will be delighted with this new model.

The Dacia Sandero BiFuel is user-friendly despite the name and offers customers a petrol car with a good show of power and the benefit of an LPG tank – if you can top up with LPG locally this is surely a route to more efficient motoring, which should go down very well with savvy Dacia owners!

The Dacia Sandero Stepway is a charming city car with big attitude. It offers incredible value while improved design, refinement and interior quality and technology give it a much-needed boost of modernity. A surprise hit of the year.

Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway on sale now!
Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway on sale now!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Dacia Sandero Stepway BiFuel
Price: 
€19,290
Engine:
1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power:  100 hp
Torque: 160 Nm petrol/ 170 Nm LPG
Top speed:  175 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 11.6 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
130 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€270 per year