Anyone on a limited budget who is keen to own a new car would be foolish not to look at a Dacia.

It is more than four years since the brand first arrived in the UK under Renault ownership and sales have risen consistently, topping the 25,000 mark in the UK last year.

The Sandero Stepway is a competitively-priced, five-door hatchback with chunky looks and a simple choice of two trim levels and two engines.

Upgrades for 2017 include useful improvements such as air conditioning and DAB radio now standard on all versions; LED daytime running lights and height adjustment for the driver’s seat, steering wheel and front seatbelts.

Outside the car has the new front first introduced on the latest version of the Duster, a new chrome-edged grille and reworked headlights.

Restyling at the rear includes a new bumper, rear lighting based on four illuminated squares and a chromed exhaust tailpipe.

There’s a beefier side appearance thanks to the black wheelarch extenders. Skidplates front and back add to the purposeful look and the crossover character is reinforced further with the additions of 16-inch wheels and satin chrome bars that run the length of the roof.

Inside there are splashes of satin-effect chrome trim detailing for the air vent surrounds, trim strip and centre console fascia, new upholstery and some extra storage space and a new four-spoke steering wheel design has the horn push in the centre, moving it from its previous position on the indicator stalk.

As spacious as a regular five-door family hatchback, it can seat five in comfort and provide plenty of load space, too. With the rear seat in place the boot offers 320 litres – one of the highest in the supermini class; with the rear seat folded that figure rises to 1,200 litres, more than enough to easily swallow two anglers’ sea fishing tackle.

Made for the UK in a new Renault-Nissan Alliance factory in Tangier, Morocco, the test model was powered by a surprisingly responsive 898cc, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, as used in the latest Clio, includes a stop and start system so that no fuel is wasted and no emissions are emitted when the car is stationary in traffic.

The car can also be fitted with the 90hp version of the 1.5 dCi, Renault’s best-selling powerplant that combines potential fuel consumption of 74.3mpg and 98g/km emissions.

It is clear that the high-riding Sandero Stepway was designed and built to tackle roads that are in an even worse state than our own, with a beefy suspension system and an extra 40mm ground clearance.

Move up to the Lauréate version and equipment available includes a seven-inch touchscreen multimedia system that includes satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, speed limiter, a seven-function on-board computer and rear

parking sensors.

To make manoeuvring even simpler there is also the availability of a reversing

camera and hill start assist.

You could be forgiven for expecting that with those sturdy underpinnings and competitive price tag, the car is going to be noisy and uncomfortable. It is not. Dacia’s soundproofing materials are effective and the car rides and handles well.

And the fact that most Dacia models also marketed as Renaults in many global markets outside of Europe shows how confident Renault is about its quality control.


Auto facts

Model: Dacia Sandero Stepway Ambiance TCe 90

Price: £8,995

Insurance group: 8E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 55.4mpg

Top speed: 104mph

Length: 405.8cm/159.8in

Width: 173.3cm/68.2in

Luggage capacity: 11.3cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 11 gallons/50 litres

CO2 emissions: 115g/km

Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles