Good news! Dacia Sandero I arrives in the AlmostCars ring. A modest car that broke the market’s mouth with its purchase price. But is it also a good car?

 Dacia Sandero I, you could say is the hatchback version of the Logan. Except the differences are a bit more than that, even if it wanted to remain the cheapest new car on the market. Just like the Logan, it was bought by the truckload by Europeans and hated by the native romanians because they are too poor to buy something cheap. The Dacia Sandero I was bought by the kind of person who bought the Skoda Octavia back ’98: A cheap, reliable, no-frills car. In fact, the Dacia Sandero I was so cheap you could buy it without power steering or a stereo. But there were people who preferred to save 50 euros and live a miserable life without power steering or windows.


How does the Dacia Sandero I differ from the Logan?

First of all, the stability situation has been solved. The Dacia Logan has a considerable ground clearance to be able to travel all sorts of roads, with or without asphalt. The Logan was skeptical of tarmac but that meant the Logan was also skeptical of bends taken at high speed. If you’re addicted to adrenaline and have run out of epinephrine vials, then get in a Logan and tackle a corner at more than 30km/h.

The Dacia Sandero I got the 1.2 naturally aspirated engine but lost the 105 horsepower 1.6 MPI 16v engine, leaving it only with an anemic 85 horses. Chiefly because this would have made the Dacia Sandero I a much better buy than the Renault Clio, and that’s not good for sales.


Dacia Sandero I Engines


  • 1.2 MPI of 75 horsepower – An engine launched in 2000 with iTunes, this antique is still being built today. Tougher than a student’s liver on alcohol, this engine only needs the timing belt changed every 3 years or 50,000 km. Personally, I find it too anemic for an engine, but maybe some people are content with that. Maybe some people have no issue being constantly passed by old pedestrians walking with a cane. 
  • 1.4 MPI of 75 horsepower  – The same Ion Iliescu launched on the Dacia SuperNova, this antiquity was eventually retired by the so-so 1.2 MPI. At least this engine is saved by its ridiculous reliability. 1.4 MPI – the official engine of taxi drivers. Yes, you make fun of it for being as muscular as Graham Norton, but many of these engines have gone well over 700,000 km.
  • 1.6 MPI of 85 horsepower – The classic 1.6 MPI we’ve become accustomed to from the Logan I. Unfortunately, the Dacia Sandero I doesn’t get the glorious 105 hp 16v so I won’t discuss this engine too much.


1.5 dci of 75 and 90 horsepower – The legendary 1.5 dci K9K is also present in the Dacia Sandero I, only in almost legendary form. With injectors made by Delphi, this engine is more tortured than Delphi factory workers. It’s not necessarily tragic, as a Dacia Sandero I 1.5 dci injector costs as much as a crate of Tesco beer, but it’s still no fun having your injectors fail every 100 meters. Tragic instead is the fact that instead of getting a crate of beer, you spend the money on repairs. Ah yes, the engine reacts badly to bad diesel so be careful where you fuel from if you don’t want to contaminate the injection system with soot.


Dacia Sandero I General Issues

  • Apart from the fact that the Dacia Sandero I is more stable in curves than the Logan I, the issues are the same.
  • Rust is still almost as notorious as the situation is with Mercedes. Most famously rust forms around the trunk hub, but like herpes expect it to spread everywhere.
  • The gearbox reminds you of old Dacias. Nobody knows how the engineers wired the Dacia cables. Most likely neither did they. The shifter is loosely connected to the gearbox so good luck.
  • The Dacia Sandero I is as safe as unprotected sex in a brothel. The board not only rusts, it’s thin and bends at the slightest effort. You just have to poke it and it will bend.
  • While I have room to write, I want to mention the buttons that operate the windows. I really want to meet the smart guy who thought of putting the buttons on the dashboard, not the doors. I wish for that engineer would grow a nad in his sole!


Dacia Sandero I Verdict

I went to driving school in a Dacia Sandero I. I didn’t understand anything about the very high clutch and that gearbox. The engine didn’t impress me either. But for an entry-level car, the Dacia Sandero remains a decent choice. Just be careful not to get the cheapest one, no radio, no steering, no electric windows, no nothing. Honestly, I don’t recommend the Dacia Sandero I particularly because the next generation is absolutely brilliant and the price difference is too small. If I were to liken it to a movie, it would be Star Wars: A New Hope. A car that didn’t appeal to anyone initially, but came out with a brilliant sequel. A sequel so brilliant that it drew a decent status to the first episode as well. I don’t know why, but when I think of the Dacia Sandero I think of a can of tuna in a supermarket. There’s something there. It’s not super super wow wow, it’s not poor man’s food either. It is, there.


What engines do I recommend? Luckily there are 4 engines available, otherwise, I’d suggest them all. For petrol, I recommend 1.6 MPI and for diesel, you’ll never guess which engine I’ll recommend. Although the Dacia Sandero is more of a city car, but you never know when you’ll have to haul watermelons and pigs on the roads of your homeland when you’re coming back from relatives from the countryside.