First Drive

Dacia Sandero 1.0 TCE 90 2020 UK review

There are three engines to choose from, all petrol. There’s the SCe 65, the turbocharged TCe 90 and the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel. Dacia is still keen to plug LPG as an alternative fuel but, given the wider current push for electrification, it’s difficult to see this as a long-term strategy. Either way, power ranges from 64bhp to 99bhp and, in the case of our TCe 90 car, rests at 89bhp and 118lb ft, the latter from a useful 2100rpm.

That means 0-62mph takes a leisurely 11.7sec; in the SCe 65, it’s a glacial 16.7sec. In the TCe 90, it’s worth sticking to between 2000-4000rpm. Below that it’s a bit gutless and above that it just shouts more without delivering any extra shove. It’s a thrummy little three-cylinder engine, not the most refined but happy enough as you shift between the gears.

The manual lever is shorter now and has a less rubbery action than of old; it’s still not as precise as that in the Honda Jazz, but it’s perfectly acceptable given the Sandero’s price.

Remember the CMF platform we mentioned earlier? Not only has it helped make the Sandero more spacious but also made it handle better. Grip levels are improved, the car rolls less than the old one and it’s more comfortable, flowing across the asphalt more easily. It’s no Fiesta in terms of its adjustability through the steering and throttle, and the Ford remains the class benchmark. But considering the price of the Sandero, it can be hustled along far more quickly than you would have thought.

It’s a night-and-day improvement over the previous car, to the point that a long journey in this thing is no longer a daunting prospect. With the right road, it could even be enjoyable.

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