Expert Rating

Dacia Sandero Stepway

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Expert Rating

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The Dacia Sandero Stepway first appeared in 2017 as a rugged, off-road themed variant of the Sandero supermini, dubbed Europe’s best-selling retail car. All-new versions of both models were launched in 2021.

The Stepway takes most Sandero sales in the UK and the reason it sells so well is because it is very much a cheap car, prices ranging from just £11,000. However the budget focus earned the Stepway the wrong sort of headlines in 2021 – Euro NCAP awarded it an almost basement two-star crash-test rating due to its very basic active safety system.

Sandero Stepway models are available only with petrol engines. There’s a 1.0-litre of 90hp or a 100hp version that can also run on Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), a rarity in today’s market. There’s also the option to replace the six-speed manual gearbox with a CVT auto.

Testers have generally liked the Sandero, praising it for the interior space and equipment you get for a bargain price, and the same goes for the Stepway. According to Autocar the purpose of this model “is to offer people the cheapest way into a good new car possible”, and it’s the basics – “comfort, equipment, enjoyment and refinement” – that boost the car’s score.

Those basics include a good, adjustable driving position, lots of interior space with a bigger boot than most superminis, and the availability of such niceties as air conditioning, touchscreen navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

The Daily Telegraph comments that the Sandero Stepway is “a bargain basement hatchback with a tiny engine and an automatic gearbox that you might actually want to own,” but adds that “we find it hard to recommend a budget option if it means cutting a corner on safety.”

The Dacia Sandero Stepway currently holds an Expert Rating of 71% from 12 reviews. It had been significantly higher, but has been falling ever since Euro NCAP published its safety ratings.

Sandero Stepway highlights

  • Great value
  • Lots of room
  • Big boot
  • Plentiful equipment

Sandero Stepway lowlights

  • Poor safety rating
  • Slow
  • Uninspiring ride and handling
  • Hard plastic interior

Key specifications

Body style: Five-door hatchback
Engines: petrol, petrol/LPG dual-fuel
Price: From £11,895 on-road

Launched: Winter 2020/21
Last updated: N/A
Replacement due: TBA

Media reviews

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Safety rating

Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall rating: 2 stars
Date tested: April 2021









Notes on safety rating

The Dacia Sandero family (including the Sandero Stepway) scored a very poor two-star rating from Euro NCAP, which generated headlines in the motoring media and was a very disappointing result. However, a better understanding of why the Sandero was only rated two stars is important.

The Sandero scored reasonably well in terms of occupant protection for both adults and children in crash tests. It’s still short of the best small cars, but certainly adequate. If the overall rating was just based on crash performance, it would probably have been awarded four stars rather than two.

Where the Sandero really fell down was in its crash avoidance technology, which has become increasingly important in determining overall ratings – after all, it’s far better to avoid an accident altogether than to survive one. Compared to other small cars, the Dacia’s autonomous emergency braking system is more basic and unable to properly detect pedestrians or cyclists. It does better at avoiding other vehicles, but is still not as good as other small cars.

Given that many of the Sandero Stepway’s rivals are actually used cars from other brands based on older technology and older Euro NCAP standards, the overall two-star rating is not as bad as it sounds – although it’s still not good enough for a brand new car in 2021. In summary, the Sandero Stepwaydoes an adequate job of protecting you in a crash but doesn’t do enough to to actually avoid one in the first place.

Eco rating

No eco rating

The Dacia Sandero Stepway has not yet been lab tested by Green NCAP. This is a new initiative, launched in 2018 as a sister organisation to Euro NCAP. As yet, very few new cars have been tested for environmental impact by Green NCAP, and inevitably the testing programme was halted in early 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic.

If and when the new Sandero Stepway is assessed by Green NCAP, we’ll have the results here.

Similar cars

If you’re looking at the Dacia Sandero Stepway, you might also be interested in these alternatives

Dacia Duster | Fiat Panda 4×4 | Ford Fiesta Active | MG ZS | Nissan Juke | SsangYong TivoliSuzuki Ignis | Vauxhall Crossland

There are few direct rivals to the Sandero Stepway’s combination of rugged looks and value, but one of the closest is the Suzuki Ignis, a mini SUV with lots of character, more economy but less space.

Ford offers a beefed-up ‘Active’ version of its mass-selling Fiesta – it’s a much better car than the Dacia but a whole lot more money. The MG ZS is also a traditional SUV of similar size to the Sandero stepway, but while budget it’s still not as cheap as the Dacia.   

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The Car Expert has the ultimate ranking of the best and worst new cars on sale, based on scores from 25 of the top UK motoring websites