Is the real-world automotive success of the 21st century the ingenious and ubiquitous Dacia family? DTW’s Sandero-driving Dacia-agnostic analyses the all-new Sandero and Logan. Can they sustain the irresistible rise of the Franco-Romanian phenomenon?
Have eight years really passed since Dacia launched the second generation Sandero at the Paris Mondial in 2012? It must be so. My calendar still has the show dates marked in, a vain act of hope in The Year That Was Cancelled.
In 2012 we not only saw the new Sandero, but also an unannounced and unexpected New Logan, effectively a Sandero with a 45mm wheelbase stretch and a capacious boot. The Logan made rational sense but had none of the original’s characterful presentation. Eight years on some Dacia assembly locations still build the first series.
For the 2021 model year Dacia have repeated their 2012 trick but the previously self-effacing Dacia staples have assumed a muscular broad-beamed stance, and the Sandero has a SEAT Ibiza-like profile. The new boss at Groupe Renault will be flattered…
Dacia claim that the new-series cars have kept the same external dimensions. In this they are being somewhat économique avec la vérité.
The Sandero and Logan are 31mm and 49mm longer respectively, and the wheelbase of both has grown by 15mm. The big change has been in girth – another 115mm on a car which was already generously wide by class standards. Tracks increase by rather less: 36mm at the front, and 54mm at the rear.
The reason behind the expansion is that Dacia have adopted one of the Alliance’s Common Modular Family platforms for the first time, in this case the CMF-B, first seen in 2019 on the latest Clio, Captur and Puke. The extra space will always be welcome, although the outgoing cars were hardly deficient in this matter.
It is to be hoped that the new chassis will deliver a far better driving experience. I’ve run up thousands of Sandero miles over the last two years and the inert dynamics are a constant disappointment in a car which otherwise has a lot to like. Renault claim that the new cars will have “more effective shock absorption and better steering, improved anti-roll capacity, and better cornering stability“. These sound like the words of someone accustomed to the outgoing version.
The engine narrative is only lightly edited, the changes driven by Euro 6D-Full standard compliance. Entry level (for the non-Stepway Sandero only) is the SCe65 naturally aspirated 1.0 litre triple, replacing the SCe75. The new designation indicates a drop in power. To be avoided – the old 73bhp one wasn’t up to the job.
De facto base engine is the TCe90, a turbocharged triple with a capacity increase to a full litre from 898cc. For the moment at least, hybrids do not feature, and diesels went over the side some time ago.
The alternative fuel option is the bi-fuel ECO-G100, a petrol / LPG fuelled turbocharged 1 litre triple. A similarly configured engine was offered on the previous series. This one is claimed to provide a 1300km range on its combined 90 litre fuel capacity.
A new six-speed gearbox arrives with the new generation, but only for the turbocharged engines. The big transmission news is the availability of the Alliance CVT, on the TCe 90 only. This replaces the Easy’R, an automated manual ‘jerk-o-matic’ not offered in many Dacia markets. The new CVT is a far more seriously intentioned effort, claimed to reduce fuel consumption and also lower CO2 emissions by 11%.
I’ll largely reserve judgement on the styling other than to say that the changes seem to favour the regular Sandero rather than the Stepway. The opposite was true of the last series where the SUV-themed garnishing mitigated the blandness of the base hatchback. The buying public were won over. 65% of Sandero sales to date have been Stepways, with more than 1.3 million produced.
These figures are impressive, as is the Sandero’s seventh place in the European sales charts in 2019. Dacia are not going to let up in their ambitions. The new cars’ technology roster is breathtaking: Automated stop-start, Emergency brake assist, Blind spot warning, Park assist, Hill start assist, Automated headlamps and wipers, Active cruise control, and an assortment of media and navigation options.
Not all of these will be in available in all sales territories, but in sophisticated markets, where NCAP ratings are a major factor in purchasing decisions, most safety-related features will be standard from the base model upwards.
I’ve only mentioned to Logan in passing. Some North-West European markets will not see the sedan. It’s certainly less ‘generic three box bucket’ than the outgoing model, and follows the pattern of hatchback-derived three-volume variants created by many major carmakers for the developing world.
Dacia are committed to maintaining their unassailed modern, reliable, ultra-affordable tenets, yet by trying to be all things to all people, they run the risk of ‘Škodafication’ moving upmarket from challenger to mainstream and undermining the parent alliance’s established brands. Has Louis Schweitzer and Gérard Detourbet’s bold and noble vision been diluted? Does it matter?
It will be interesting to see if the low prices can be held, and whether the driving experience will genuinely be improved. If the new platform delivers, an even bigger share of the global market awaits Dacia.