Dacia Sandero Stepway Review

Andrew Brady

Written by

Andrew Brady

Dacia Sandero Stepway
Dacia Sandero Stepway

1/10

1 / 10

00/10
heycar rating
"No-frills budget family crossover"
  • Launched: 2013
  • Hatchback
  • Petrol, Diesel, LPG

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Quick overview

Pros

  • Ridiculously cheap car to buy
  • Stepway styling gives it a touch of class
  • The space of a hatchback for the price of a city car

Cons

  • Some elements of the cabin feel cheap
  • More expensive than the standard Sandero
  • Facelift can’t disguise the fact that it’s showing its age

Overall verdict

On the inside

Driving

Cost to run

Prices and Specs

Common questions

Overall verdict on the Dacia Sandero Stepway

"The Dacia Sandero Stepway laughs in the face of the prices asked for other crossovers and jacked-up hatchbacks. We think the Stepway treatment gives the Sandero an unlikely touch of class, although this doesn’t necessarily pull through to the interior. Cheap to buy, cheap to run and easy to live with – what’s not to like?"

Dacia Sandero Stepway Driving

Take one of Europe’s cheapest cars. Raise the ride height a little. Add some body armour. Give it a fancy name. What have you got? The Dacia Sandero Stepway.


If the standard Dacia Sandero is a little too humdrum for your tastes – or you like spending more for what is essentially the same thing – the Stepway is for you. We, along with tens of thousands of other Europeans, rather like it. We reckon you will, too.


To call it a crossover version of the Dacia Sandero is a bit of a stretch, but the Stepway does look a whole lot nicer than the car it’s based on. It’s amazing what suspension raised by 40mm, front and rear skid plates, black body protection and a pair of roof bars can do for a car’s appearance.


On the inside, the Stepway makeover is less impressive, but it’s possible to add a touch of glamour via one of the plusher trim levels or accessories. You’re never far from the impression that you’re driving a cheap car, but the Stepway feels just a touch more special than the Sandero.


So what’s the catch? Well, the Sandero Stepway is based on old Renault architecture that was showing its age when the car was launched in 2013. Seven years on, the Stepway is beginning to feel as dated as a 1970s comedy programme. It’s also not in the least bit exciting to drive – taking the bus is arguably more fun.


However, that’s where the negative points end, because the Dacia Sandero Stepway is a highly appealing car. The raised ride height improves the level of comfort, so it’s well placed to deal with roads that could have been used to stage the moon landing. Don’t get any ideas about venturing too far off-road – this is a strictly on-road crossover.


It’s also incredibly spacious, offering more space than the majority of small hatchbacks, despite costing the same as a mid-range city car. There’s space for four adults – five at a push – plus a good size boot for all the gear you bought using the money you saved.


Throw into the mix a range of efficient engines, including a dual-fuel version, and you’ve got the makings of a car that’s not only cheap to buy, but will be amongst the most affordable to run.


If you can live with the humdrum cabin, questionable interior quality and lacklustre driving experience, the Dacia Sandero Stepway is arguably the best value five-door hatchback you can buy. Leave your preconceptions at the door and give it a try. It could be your most rewarding car purchase. It really is that good.


If you're looking for the standard hatchback, you need our Dacia Sandero (2013-) review.

Is the Dacia Sandero Stepway right for you?

The Dacia Sandero Stepway is a more expensive version of Dacia’s cheapest car. It taps into our growing love of crossovers by tempting you with a raised ride height, chunkier styling and a higher level of standard equipment, in the hope that you’ll be prepared to pay extra for the privilege.


Despite appearances, the Dacia Sandero Stepway isn’t a true off-roader, but how many of us really need a 4x4? Instead, the Stepway is a slightly more polished take on the standard Dacia Sandero formula, with the same easy-to-drive and easy-to-live-with appeal.


That said, it is showing its age, with a 2016 facelift and the launch of a few special editions along the way failing to disguise its vintage. Still, if you’re after a no-frills affordable crossover, the Dacia Sandero Stepway is an appealing proposition.

What’s the best Dacia Sandero Stepway model/engine to choose?

The Renault-sourced 0.9 TCe 90 petrol engine has been available throughout the Sandero Stepway’s life. The three-cylinder turbocharged motor provides the best balance of performance and economy.


It seems perfectly suited to the Sandero Stepway, offering a reasonably punchy 90PS and a respectable 51.4mpg, with reassurance provided by the fact that it also resides in the Renault Clio and Captur.


There’s no super-basicl Access trim on the Stepway version of the Sandero, so while this means the cost of entry is higher, you get an improved level of standard equipment. Trim levels have changed during the car’s seven-year lifespan, but Ambiance and Comfort offer a great blend of price and equipment. Spend too much on the Sandero Stepway and the price gets perilously close to rival cars, diluting the car’s appeal.

What other cars are similar to the Dacia Sandero Stepway?

The most obvious rival to the Stepway is the standard Dacia Sandero, which offers none of the rugged fancy stuff. It doesn’t feel as special as the Stepway, but paying the lowest price has always been central to Dacia’s appeal.


Beefy versions of small hatchbacks are relatively common these days - the Vauxhall Viva Rocks for example, but the Sandero Stepway straddles a number of segments, making it a fairly unique proposition. It’s cheaper than the smaller Fiat Panda City Cross and Fiat Panda 4x4, with a price tag that places it squarely in the sights of the latest budget city cars. You could also compare it to the likes of the Suzuki Ignis.

Comfort and design: Dacia Sandero Stepway interior

"We’d argue the Dacia Sandero Stepway feels a generation or two behind the latest breed of hatchbacks and SUVs. In many ways, this is part of its charm, because the cabin offers everything you need, rather than a whole host of things that might frustrate you."

Dacia Sandero Stepway Interior

We’d argue the Dacia Sandero Stepway feels a generation or two behind the latest breed of hatchbacks and SUVs. In many ways, this is part of its charm, because the cabin offers everything you need, rather than a whole host of things that might frustrate you.


Although it’s possible to add some garnish to the dashboard and seats, at the Sandero Stepway’s core is a dull and uninspiring interior. Batman will appreciate the black and very, very dark grey plastics, but he won’t like the cheap switches and controls.


It feels plasticky, because that’s exactly what it is. The Citroen C4 Cactus proved that it’s possible to build a cabin to a price without feeling cheap. The Sandero Stepway offers none of the Citroen’s flair and imagination. You pay your money and you take your choice, etc.


It’s not all bad news. If you opt for a new Sandero Stepway in Comfort trim, you’ll discover chrome heating control inserts and a leather gear knob, along with electric rear windows. These might sound like small things, but they help make Dacia ownership a more pleasurable experience.


Splash the cash on the snazzy (great word) Sandero Stepway SE Twenty and you’ll find unique side decals, a black finish for the door mirrors, two-tone 16-inch wheels, blue mesh fabric inserts for the seats, plus blue inserts for the surrounds of the air vents and floor mats. With the possible exception of the Techroad special edition, the SE Twenty is the best looking Sandero Stepway to date, but it comes at a price.


All versions are comfortable, with the seats offering typically French levels of squishiness. Unfortunately, squishy doesn’t mean supportive, so your back will start to complain on a long journey. As for cornering – hold on tight...

Quality and finish

In fairness to the Sandero Stepway, the interior feels robust and hard-wearing. The car has been around long enough for us to know that things don’t start to fall off when it reaches a certain age. Don’t confuse soft-touch plastics and so-called premium materials with longevity. The Sandero Stepway is just as likely to withstand 100,000 miles of daily use as any car at this end of the market.


You’ll have to live with heater controls that feel like they’re unattached to the dashboard, along with plastics that are a distant relative of those used in a box of chocolates. It’s just a shame you won’t find a Sumptuous Strawberry or Hazelnut Perfection in the Dacia. Still, this is your Sandero Stepway, not Terry’s.


Spending more on a lavish version of the Sandero Stepway helps to raise the level of perceived quality, but there are many reminders that this was a car built to a price. Buying a pre-facelift Sandero Stepway in Laureate trim helps, because this version featured a leather steering wheel and gear knob. As the two items you touch most in the car, having improved quality versions of the pair actually lifts the cabin to a higher level.

Because there isn’t an entry-level Access version of the Dacia Sandero Stepway, all models boast an audio system of some sort. Pre-facelift, this meant a radio with a CD player for the Ambiance trim, or a seven-inch touchscreen system for the Laureate model.


Today, the Essential trim packs a DAB/FM/AM radio with steering wheel controls, two speakers, Bluetooth and USB connection for MP3 players. Sorry, folks, the CD player has been consigned to the Dacia dustbin. Time to put your Abba Gold CD in the attic.


Comfort and SE Twenty models get a seven-inch MediaNav touchscreen with navigation, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That’s a pretty impressive package for a budget car. A seven-inch screen is relatively small by modern standards, while the display looks like something from the 90s. Not that this matters, because proper mirroring connectivity means that you can replace the graphics with a more familiar smartphone layout.

Space and practicality: Dacia Sandero Stepway boot space

Space is the great leveller. No, we’re not talking about the race between the Soviet Union and United States to send a human into space, but when you’re measuring luggage capacity in a car, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking at a budget hatchback or a premium SUV.


The Sandero Stepway offers family hatchback levels of interior space for a price more commonly associated with a small hatch or city car.


Four adults will find plenty of headroom and legroom, while the middle rear seat offers enough space for occasional use. The driver gets a height-adjustable seat, but it’s worth noting that the steering wheel adjusts for height and not reach.


All versions get map pockets on the back of the front seats, a couple of shallow cupholders between the gearstick and centre console, sizeable door pockets and a decent size glovebox. However, the Sandero Stepway lacks the clever storage options offered by many crossovers.


Things are much better in the boot, where you’ll find 320 litres of luggage capacity. That’s more than the 311 litres of space you’ll find a new Ford Fiesta – and 20 litres more than the Citroen C3. The luggage capacity increases to 1,200 litres with the rear seats folded down, with the bench splitting 60/40. There’s a relatively high loading lip to get over, but the tailgate opens to reveal a tall and wide space.


There are also two Isofix points in the back, so fitting a pair of child seats won’t be a problem. However, you won’t get a third child seat in there. Fortunately, the rear doors open wide, so you’ll have little trouble loading your children into their seats.


If you need more space, the Dacia Logan Stepway is the estate version of the Sandero Stepway. No other new car offers quite the same blend of load capacity and low price.


Handling and ride quality: What is the Dacia Sandero like to drive?

"Keen drivers should look away now, because the Dacia Sandero Stepway is one of the least enjoyable cars you can buy. While the majority of small cars can be fun to chuck about, the Sandero Stepway is about as pleasurable as a night in with the end-of-year accounts."

Dacia Sandero Stepway Driving

Keen drivers should look away now, because the Dacia Sandero Stepway is one of the least enjoyable cars you can buy. While the majority of small cars can be fun to chuck about, the Sandero Stepway is about as pleasurable as a night in with the end-of-year accounts.


At least it offers something slightly different to the standard Dacia Sandero. Thanks to the 40mm raised ride height, the Stepway is more adept at dealing with rough roads and potholes. It’s not cushion-soft, but the ride quality is noticeably better.


Less positive is the noise it makes as it hops from pothole to pothole, with each one greeted with an orchestra of hollow and inexpensive noises. It all feels a bit low-rent, which serves as a reminder that you’re piloting something from the budget end of the market.


The steering is vaguer than a politician’s answer to a question, while the brakes offer as much bite as a toothless terrier. There’s nothing that will encourage you to press on in a Sandero Stepway – it just isn’t that kind of car.


You also get a fair amount of body roll when cornering – something that is more pronounced in the Stepway on account of the raised ride height. The seats don’t help, as they offer as much lateral support as a stool in McDonald’s.


Perhaps we’re being a little unfair. The Dacia Sandero Stepway is based on old Renault architecture that was perfectly acceptable a decade or so ago. Adjust your expectations and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the ride comfort and no-nonsense approach to driving. Who needs a sport mode and adaptive suspension anyway?


A word about the raised suspension, which provides a modicum of off-road ability. Without four-wheel drive or a trick traction control system, you’re not going to be venturing too far off the beaten track.

What engines and gearboxes are available in the Dacia Sandero Stepway?

The Sandero Stepway is the UK’s most popular Dacia, so it must be doing something right. It was launched in 2013 with a choice of a 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol engine (labelled 0.9 TCe 90), along with a 1.5-litre diesel that wore a 1.5 dCi 90 badge.


The 1.5 dCi has been dropped from the range, leaving you with a choice of entry-level SCe 75 petrol engine, the favoured TCe 90 (Group Renault’s best-selling engine) and the new TCe 100 Bi-Fuel unit.


This dual-fuel option was added to the Dacia range in early 2020, with an LPG tank fitted in place of the spare wheel. Along with improved economy and reduced CO2 emissions, the Bi-Fuel model also boasts additional torque.


Although it’s cheap, the non-turbocharged SCe 75 is best avoided, as it has to be worked really hard to get the best from it. The 0-62mph time is a glacial 15.1 seconds, but you’ll have given up long before then. The TCe 90 is no firecracker, but the 0-62mph time drops to a respectable 11.1 seconds. Crucially, it feels more refined at speed and requires less effort to squeeze the best from it.


If you spend a lot of time on the motorway, we’d recommend one of the earlier 1.5-litre diesel engines. The combination of low CO2 emissions, punchy low- and mid-range torque and fuel economy makes it more appealing than a petrol unit. All models get a five-speed gearbox, because a six-speed ‘box would be too expensive. An automatic transmission isn’t available.

Refinement and noise levels

Refinement isn’t a strong point of the Dacia Sandero Stepway. Imperfections in the road are transmitted to the occupants through the pedals, steering wheel and seats, along with an audible reminder that you’re travelling in something cheap.


You also get a fair amount of wind noise, but that’s to be expected in a car with roof bars as standard. Road noise is another issue, presumably because Dacia has used less soundproofing in order to keep costs to a minimum. Are these things deal-breakers? Not at all, because everything has to be viewed in the context of price. The Sandero Stepway feels no less refined than other budget cars, such as the Mitsubishi Mirage, and it’s a whole lot more appealing than that.


The other issue is that three-cylinder petrol engines aren’t known for their refinement. Some people like the characterful soundtrack, others find it an unnecessary annoyance. In this respect, the discontinued diesel engine offers the best feeling of refinement.


Safety equipment: How safe is the Dacia Sandero Stepway?

The Dacia Sandero was crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2013, when it received an impressive four-star rating. Scores of 80 percent and 79 percent for adult and child occupant protection were offset by 57 percent and 55 percent for pedestrian safety and safety assist systems.


That was a long time ago, and because the Euro NCAP test procedure has moved on, the Dacia Sandero Stepway would almost certainly receive a lower rating in 2020. It’s not that the Sandero Stepway is any less safe today than it was in 2013, it’s just that the technology has moved on. Euro NCAP also places greater emphasis on electronic driver assistance systems, which is something the Stepway lacks.


Instead, you get driver and passenger airbags, front side airbags, emergency brake assist and hill-start assist as standard. Comfort and SE Twenty models boast cruise control with a speed limiter and rear parking sensors. An emergency spare wheel is available as an option, but a tyre inflation kit comes as standard. Note: the spare wheel isn’t available on the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel version, because the wheel well is used to house the LPG tank.

MPG and fuel costs: What does a Dacia Sandero Stepway cost to run?

"Of the current engines, the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel unit is the most economical, offering up 47.1mpg in Essential trim. This drops to 46.3mpg in Comfort or SE Twenty trim."

Dacia Sandero Stepway Back

Of the current engines, the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel unit is the most economical, offering up 47.1mpg in Essential trim. This drops to 46.3mpg in Comfort or SE Twenty trim.


The SCe 75 delivers between 43.5mpg and 45.6mpg, depending on the trim level, while the TCe 90 offers a claimed 42.2mpg to 45.6mpg. Predictably, the old dCi 95 diesel engine is the economy hero, with the potential to return 58.8mpg to 62.7mpg.

Insurance groups and costs

The Dacia Sandero Stepway Essential SCe 75 slots into insurance group three, making it a very inexpensive car to insure. That’s the kind of group rating you’d associate with city cars or lowly small hatchbacks.


Other versions receive a group nine rating, so getting cover isn’t going to break the bank. The standard Sandero slots into groups three to 10, so the cost of insurance isn’t a reason to avoid the Stepway.

VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on a Dacia Sandero Stepway?

The Sandero Stepway TCe 100 Bi-Fuel offers a small benefit in terms of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) as it incurs a showroom tax of £205. All other versions cost £215 in the first year. We did say it was a small benefit. All Stepways cost £150 per annum from year two. Benefit in Kind (BiK) rates range from 30 percent to 31 percent, depending on the model.

How much should you be paying for a used Dacia Sandero Stepway?

"Because the Stepway is more popular than the standard Dacia Sandero, there are more used examples to choose from. This means you can afford to be choosy when searching for your next car."

Dacia Sandero Stepway Side

Because the Stepway is more popular than the standard Dacia Sandero, there are more used examples to choose from. This means you can afford to be choosy when searching for your next car.


Prices start from around £3,000, which means the Sandero Stepway is pretty good at retaining its value. Let’s remember, these cars cost between £7995 and £10,795 when new.


You’ll need to spend at least £5500 to get a more desirable post-facelift car, while the smart Techroad trim will set you back at least £10,000. Also look out for SE Summit trim, which is available in an eye-catching Magma Orange colour.

Trim levels and standard equipment

To set it apart from the standard car, Dacia pre-loaded the Sandero Stepway with a generous level of standard kit. Early cars came with 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome roof bars, tinted windows and remote central locking. Many buyers were tempted by the Laureate version, if only for its air conditioning and seven-inch touchscreen.


Today, the entry-level Essential trim is a little more generous, packing air-con and a DAB digital radio. Upgrading to Comfort trim would be advisable, not least because it offers front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, a seven-inch touchscreen, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.


In truth, special editions and top-spec models make little sense when buying new, but if you see a Techroad, SE Summit, SE Twenty or Laureate trim when searching for a used example, they come highly recommended. Just don’t pay over the odds for your Sandero Stepway – stick to a tight budget.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

What is the difference between Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway?

The difference between Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway is that the latter is essentially a 'crossover' version. The Stepway does look a whole lot nicer than the car it’s based on. It’s amazing what suspension raised by 40mm, front and rear skid plates, black body protection and a pair of roof bars can do for a car’s appearance.

Dan Powell

Answered by

Dan Powell

Is the Dacia Sandero Stepway any good?

We think the Stepway treatment gives the Sandero an unlikely touch of class, although this doesn’t necessarily pull through to the interior. Cheap to buy, cheap to run and easy to live with – what’s not to like?

Andy Brady

Answered by

Andy Brady

What engine is in a Dacia Sandero Stepway?

The Sandero Stepway is the UK’s most popular Dacia, so it must be doing something right. It was launched in 2013 with a choice of a 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol engine (labelled 0.9 TCe 90), along with a 1.5-litre diesel that wore a 1.5 dCi 90 badge.

David Ross

Answered by

David Ross

What Insurance Group is Dacia Sandero Stepway?

The Dacia Sandero Stepway Essential SCe 75 slots into insurance group three, making it a very inexpensive car to insure. That’s the kind of group rating you’d associate with city cars or lowly small hatchbacks.

heycar editorial team

Answered by

heycar editorial team

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