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First drive: Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.

First drive: Dacia Sandero Stepway
Dacia Sandero goes all lifestyle crossover with the Stepway.

   



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| First Drive | Malaga, Spain | Dacia Sandero Stepway |

Overall rating: 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Its name might sound like a mobility aid, but the Sandero Stepway adds some SUV crossover style to Dacia's competent Sandero supermini. However, that look also brings a few compromises.

Key Facts

Model tested: Dacia Sandero Stepway 1.5 dCi 90
Pricing: 10,795
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, five-speed manual
Body style: five-door compact crossover
Rivals: Hyundai i20, Kia Rio, Proton Satria Neo
CO2 emissions: 105g/km
Combined economy: 70.6mpg
Top speed: 103mph
0-62mph: 11.8 seconds
Power: 90hp at 3,750rpm
Torque: 220Nm at 1,750rpm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

Take one Dacia Sandero supermini, jack the suspension up by a sizeable 4cm, pop some wheel-arch protection, roof bars and a different lower front and rear bumper on and you've got an instant crossover. Pretty simple, and actually surprisingly effective; indeed it's a shame Dacia didn't go further and strip the paint off the bumpers and wing mirror cases for an even more utilitarian look.

Inside it's the same as its non-crossover Sandero relation, save a few Stepway references, and the Dacia's interior majors on simplicity and ease of function. The plastics are hard, but look good, and space is decent all round - though rear legroom isn't overly generous.

Driving it: 3 3 3 3 3

Along with the more rugged exterior looks comes that increase in the suspension height. This, as well as the 1.5 dCi turbodiesel engine, makes a significant difference to the way the Stepway drives over its conventionally sprung, petrol relation. The turbodiesel engine isn't short of torque with 85Nm more than the petrol alternative, but oddly it doesn't feel any punchier in the mid-range. It's not the performance though that's a problem, but the refinement. There's a lot of vibration through the controls and firewall from the diesel unit, it lacking the smoothness and relative hush on offer from the 0.9-litre triple petrol.

Like its Sandero relation the Stepway's suspension is more tuned for comfort than outright control, and the increase in height only amplifies its shortcomings. There's even more movement, the body taking a while to settle over bigger bumps. Likewise, it's not as quick to turn in. Even so, it's still rather entertaining in an odd way, the Stepway's soft suspension meaning it makes for a cushioned, if sometimes rather bouncy ride.

The diesel engine does little for refinement in the Sandero Stepway, and the roof bars also add to the compromises. Fine at town speeds, get out on the motorway and those roof bars contribute to significantly increased wind noise. Sure, they look good, but for the 364 days a year you're not carrying your surfboard up there the trade-off in increased wind noise simply isn't worth it.

What you get for your Money: 5 5 5 5 5

In Laureate guise you get manual air conditioning, all those rugged exterior add-ons, cruise control with a speed limiter, electric windows, electrically adjusted and heated mirrors. That specification list proves fairly generous for a car costing just 10,795. That's before you consider that Laureate trim in the Stepway also adds a MediaNav system with touch-screen satnav and parking sensors.

Worth Noting

You could save 1,000, and your ears, but opting for the three-cylinder 900cc petrol engine, though you'd also swap the diesel's 70.6mpg combined economy potential for 52.3mpg if you do so.

Summary

Dacia's Sandero in Stepway guise might offer a more visually attractive crossover-type package but you do have to accept some compromises as a result of the more rugged looks. Whether you can stomach the loss of refinement depends on how and where you drive, though this car is undoubtedly a better bet with the petrol engine rather than the diesel tested here.


Kyle Fortune - 6 Dec 2012



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2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.



2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.
 

2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.
 

2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.
 

2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.
 

2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.
 

2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.
 

2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.
 

2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.
 

2013 Dacia Sandero Stepway. Image by Dacia.
 






 

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