Dacia Sandero Stepway (2013-): Review, Problems, Specs

Dacia introduced the Sandero Stepway at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, along with the model they derived it from in the first place, namely the second-generation Sandero hatchback. Both models became available as per 2013 and quickly earned the status as the most affordable model on the market. Although it only comes with front-wheel drive, the Sandero Stepway is a more rugged version of the Sandero thanks to its raised height, additional plastic cladding and roof rails.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • affordable
  • bulky looks
  • spacious
  • potent diesel

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • the diesel can be noisy
  • unrefined ride
  • harsh interior
  • limited off-road ability

Stay Away From
  • avoid entry-level models
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • some owners reported loss of coolant
  • also, rain water collects in the bottom of the doors, which suggests there’s an issue with the car's window seals
Car Details
Powertrain

The engine range comprises of a petrol unit and a diesel mill. The 0.9-liter feels nippy, especially when you turn off the Eco mode, but it remains mainly suited for low-speed driving. For heavy highway use, the 1.5 dCi is the better choice due to its punchy mid-range pull. Both powerplants are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox - not the most precise and refined out there, but still decent and on par with the resources provided by the two engines.


Handling

Not the most fun-inducing car out there, the Sandero Stepway, however, it’s more comfortable than the regular Sandero thanks to the lifted suspension. This also means body roll is a frequent presence in almost every turn, but grip levels are good enough, yet the steering still lacks feedback and sharpness.


Safety

Dacia Sandero scored four stars after going through the Euro NCAP crash tests, which means the Stepway should be able to provide the same level of protection. The Sandero scored high when it came to adult and child protection, but it tends to neglect pedestrians and active safety systems.

Also, there are front side airbags for both the driver and the passenger, while Dacia fitted every Sandero Stepway with ESC, ABS, and EBA.

Comfort

The biggest advantage here is the spacious cabin. Access inside the car is done with ease, the front seats won’t fatigue your back, there’s decent lateral support, but the biggest issue here is the cabin’s insufficient soundproofing. Therefore, expect engine and wind noise - the latter comes at higher speeds, along with tire noise.

Even in the back, there’s decent room for two adults but forget about fitting three people in the back seat. Legroom and headroom look good from the inside, quite better than any supermini on the market can offer.

Other than that, visibility is good, and the A-pillars are not too intrusive, but you’ll have to live with the low-quality materials.


Quality

Plastics are rough and entry-level models do look a bit spartan. Also, heavily used models might show scratches plus wear and tear marks on the inside, however, everything feels robust, and there’s no clatter or squeaking whatsoever.


Practicality

Boot space stands at 320 liters (better than the Fiat Panda - 255 liters and Suzuki SX4 – 270 liters) but with the rear seats down that capacity goes up to 1,200 liters. As far as storage compartments are concerned, you’ll be pleased to find cubby holes scattered around the cabin, while the door pockets and glovebox come with sufficient storing space for random objects like water bottles, wallets and so on.


Infotainment

The entry-level Ambiance trim comes with radio/CD and Bluetooth connectivity, whereas the Sandero Stepway Laureate brings a seven-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite navigation plus USB and AUX ports, basically the identical setup as seen on the Dacia Duster, Logan, and the standard Sandero. Graphics are simplistic to say at most, but most of the time the setup will show no glitches while getting the job done with minimal fuss.

Efficiency

The 0.9-liter petrol engine delivers 89 hp, exactly the same as its dCi counterpart. In terms of frugality, the diesel wins the crown with 7 l/100 km, but the three-cylinder petrol will still provide respectable fuel consumption levels of 8.5 l/100 km.


Equipment

Entry-level models must justify their low price so don’t expect a rich array of equipment, which means no air conditioning and no cruise control, among others. However, the every Sandero Stepway Ambiance comes with power front windows and fog lights, plus a rudimental radio/CD audio unit.

Things improve with the Laureate trim, which adds essentials like air-con, power & heated side mirrors and Dacia’s infotainment system based on a seven-inch tactile display. Then there’s cruise control, a speed-limiting function and rear parking sensors.


Acquisition

All in all, the Sandero Stepway offers exactly what it advertises. Customers have generally been happy with the value for money factor but do keep in mind that the car retains strong resale values since Renault components are known for their average reliability potential. More important, low running costs and class-leading practicality make the Sandero Stepway a proposition worth looking at even when buying used.

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