Why I've fallen in love with...The Dacia Sandero
Good news! I've attempted to write about a Romanian supermini!
Okay, okay, I know what your thinking. Why is a writer, who focuses mainly on Formula 1 and motorsport all of a sudden writing a piece on a little Romanian supermini? Some kind convincing from James May, perhaps? Maybe a partnership with the Dacia brand in Ireland? Well, the answer to those last two questions is no, while the answer to the first is, well, I've just realised how much I actually love the damn car.
For those of you around my age looking to get on the road in Ireland will know all too familiar just how difficult the rules and the exploding insurance costs make it for anyone under the age of 25. It's just too expensive. It's mostly the reason why I have not been able to yet get on the road, it's just not viable thanks to my current financial situation.
It seems as if no matter what car you try, it's going to cost you at live five times the amount of the car's value to actually insure it for one year. A few months back, while I was bored, I applied for insurance on a 2006 Citroen C2 I found on DoneDeal. A lovely 1.2 litre petrol example with tax and NCT (or MOT in the UK) for €1,650, while the cheapest quote I could get was another €3,500 yearly with Liberty Insurance! On a car thats fourteen years old!
Compare this to the quote I just got for a 2013 Dacia Sandero, which was just given to me at €2,000. Same engine size, same tax and MOT. Sure, the car maybe be €5,000 but what you get for that is a much younger machine, one that you can mind and hold onto many years as opposed to a fourteen year-old car and one that will more than likely, barring no accidents or claims, see a reduction to your premium as the years go on.
I know what some of you think of Fifth Gear, but you can't really say anything bad about Jonny's review of the Sandero back in 2013, it's worth a watch!
The second thing I love about the Sandero is just the simplicity of it. It's just a car. Your modern car can do so much nowadays and a lot of it isn't really necessary. I remember growing up and my dad having cars from Ford Orions and Escorts to Citroen Saxos and Fiat Puntos. I loved each one of these cars because they were just – cars. Exactly what the Sandero is. Early base models of the Sandero in Europe didn't even have a radio in them, but now you can buy a brand new, off the factory floor Sandero in Ireland – radio and all – for just twelve thousand euro. That's five seats, a simple, economic engine and a comfortable small car for less than a what you'd be expected to pay for a decade-old BMW on the second-hand market.
I like the idea of a one-litre engine. I like the idea of simplicity. I like the idea of a simple car that's easy to afford and run on a daily basis. I often think about a Polish man who I work with who, for the five years or so I've known him, has been driving a battered 2001 Audi A6. Recently, his turbo blew so instead of going to his local garage and using the perks of being an ex-mechanic back in his homeland, he bought the part of eBay and fixed it himself. I often ask him if he will ever change the car, to which the reply is always the same. “When I change my car, this is the day I return to Poland.” This idea of simplicity and easy maintenance I also think could stand true to such a simple car as the Sandero.
Dacia began in Romania in 1966, starting construction of their first car, the 1100 in 1968. This car, which was essentially a rebadged Renault 11 after a lisencing agreement with the French manufacturer saw the 1100 run for 36 years, with numerous variations and facelifts of the model being developed in that time, the last 1100 rolled off the production line in 2004.
Dacia was aquired by Renault in 1999, the French company taking a 99.3% stake in the brand by 2003 and the first Sandero saw a sale upon its arrivial into the Brazilian market in 2008, the European release following months later. The car saw it's release into the UK and Irish markets in 2013, following a successful launch for the Duster model previous in the year, and have become an ever more common sight for our roads.
Dacia Sandero Stepway Crossover (Wikipedia.)
Coming from Renault of course, the one thing the car does not scamper on is safety, with airbags galore and the model having a convincing record on various Euro NCAP tests, you can be sure that you are also as safe as possible should something go wrong on your commute.
I really do like the Sandero and I don't know why. It's a cool little car, a car whose job is not to heat or massage your back or to make you feel like your in a sauna. It's a car you drive, a car you depend on to get you from A to B and a car that is simple enough for you to understand every inch of. Good news! The Dacia Sandero is a really cool car.