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Endurance Test Dacia Sandero

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Actually, we wanted to write more often about our own Dacia Sandero. But the little blue car does its job so smoothly and inconspicuously that it was almost forgotten. It’s not that we don’t drive it, quite the contrary: after almost two years, it recently had its second service, i.e. it has now covered more than 60,000 kilometres. In this context, it is very important to note that the costs were less than 400 Swiss francs both times. For this money, you can’t even spend 10 minutes in the customer car park at other manufacturers.

And so we are already in the middle of the topic. One might expect that a brand that offers inexpensive cars would save on customer service. But there’s no such thing: there’s a sensible app, you can book service appointments online – and you’re even asked how you want to receive the bill, by e-mail or on paper. Of course, good customer service has a lot to do with the garage (in our case, it’s Dubach in Oensingen), but there are also clear guidelines from the importer and the brand itself – and nothing to complain about, quite the opposite. Not too much, as with other manufacturers who constantly want to sell rims or ski racks in late spring, not too little, just: reasonable. Just like the pricing.

As already mentioned in the first report, we paid exactly 14’136 Swiss francs for our decently equipped Dacia Sandero TCe90. With automatic climate control, cruise control (one without sensors that quit at the lightest rain), the small screen that lets you pair your smartphone. We love exactly that, you have Spotify with you when the radio programme is as good as the TV programme at the weekend again. And above all: an always up-to-date navigation system. Whether you use Google or Apple Maps is a matter of taste, but it works just fine. And it doesn’t need any software updates “over the air” (except for those from smartphones, but they run much better than those in cars). And the Apple thing is really good. Even near where we’ve lived for many years, we’ve come across hidden roads that we didn’t even suspect existed there. We turn on the headlights when we feel it’s necessary, use the windscreen wipers when it rains (ok, we’d need a new one, it smears a bit in the meantime); as a lane-keeping ace, the Romanians have installed something round like this, it’s called a steering wheel.

And that is precisely the greatest strength of the compact Romanian: it is completely free of annoyances and consequently problems. In the past two years we haven’t had the slightest problem, nothing has broken, the little blue car has never twitched, nothing rattles. The fabric seats still look like new after two years, the paintwork shines like on the first day (if we would wash the Dacia a bit more often), no tarnished headlights (although it has to sleep outside). The third gear is sometimes a bit difficult to engage when the Sandero is cold, but first of all that’s over quickly and secondly complaining on a very high level, with a bit more effort it goes smoothly. And even though we look at the Dacia very, very critically, we can’t find anything to criticise.

Not even the chassis. The Sandero is comfortable enough, even on long journeys. And it knows them, having had to drive from Switzerland to northern Germany several times. On the motorway, it easily keeps to 150 km/h – only in the mountains of Kassel do you sometimes wish for a little more power. But otherwise you can have a lot of fun in the mountains, the steering is sufficiently precise even for quicker cornering, the manual 6-speed gearbox is well graduated. If you go too fast, the Romanian pushes over the front wheels, but always remains very controllable. This is certainly due to the fact that with its 1100 kilos, it doesn’t push the limits of physics as much as those ubiquitous 2-tonne SUVs. In summer, we drive a Bridgetone Turanza on 16-inch wheels, which will certainly last another season after 40,000 kilometres; in winter, we use Continental WinterContact tyres in the dimension 185/65 R 15.

That certainly has some influence on consumption. At humane temperatures above 15 degrees, the average is 5.1 litres; now, in winter, it’s half a litre more. There have also been fill-ups with an average of less than 5 litres, but on the German autobahn it’s more like 7.5 litres. But it’s all well within reason, we’re not known for being particularly light on our feet. But the air conditioning doesn’t run when it’s not needed; however, the Dacia Sandero is rarely heavily loaded. Its boot capacity of 328 litres is not outstanding, but well usable; with the rear seats folded down it is a decent 1120 litres, also quite practical. Yes, it’s also good for a trip to Ikea when you’re playing a bit of Tetris.

Oh yes, we love our Dacia Sandero – also because it’s easy on the budget. And because it doesn’t really have anything that can break. It’s not an image slinger either, it radiates zero prestige – we like that, that’s how it should be. And when you’re hanging on to the Grimsel, close behind the SUV coupé that’s at least three times as powerful and costs about seven times as much, and you start to overtake before the bend (even though you know from the start that it won’t work anyway), the slightly sour expression on the premium driver’s face is worth the purchase price of the Dacia alone. And no, even though we write so positively here: we didn’t get a single franc discount on our endurance tester, these things are in such high demand that we had to be happy to get one at all. And even after two years, we are still really happy to have it.

More driving reports and tests can be found in our archive.

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