Why Britain's cheapest car is a welcome throwback to the past


Author: James ElliottPublished:

A couple of weeks ago, when struggling with a fleet of on-stands and non-road legal classics, I borrowed a Dacia Sandero from Autocar editor Jim 'Noddy' Holder for an evening.

Everyone giggled that I was going to hate this Fisher Price conveyance. Except Jim that is and, given the cars at his disposal, you have to admire him for using the cheapest car in Britain as his long-termer.

On the contrary, even though I rarely warm to moderns, I decided that this one is the perfect brand-new car for classic owners or their kids. It is ideal for people who, unsubsumed into the flatulent and sedentary modern lifestyle, don't mind doing the odd thing for themselves.

Tricky, difficult things that no one should be (or is) required to do anymore like, er, winding down a window, or opening a door and starting an engine with a key.

Obviously, it was to my refined sensibilities pretty unengaging as a driving machine, but that's why it is no different to any normal modern, it is just an appliance.

A very good value one, though, given that it is no worse, no less charming, and no uglier than anything else I can think of even close to its price.

As said, the only difference as far as I could see was that the options on the Dacia were still options, and not standardised as they are on everything else.

Perversely, that makes me a bit of a fan!

For the same reason that I am a devotee of Easyjet (or rather I will be until my kids are of an age that I can no longer jump the queues, or until the advertised cost actually becomes only half of the final bill, whichever comes sooner), there is (or used to be) a certain honesty about no-frills stuff that commands respect.

Sure, we all like a bit of luxury and customer service, but it does no harm whatsoever for us decadent, pampered westerners to be occasionally brought back to earth and reminded of the simple things in life.

To rediscover the joy of them. A bit like classic cars. And the Sandero, which is willfully simple. I bet you could even work on it yourself if you wanted.

As a result, I think that every kid who doesn't see the light and get into classics, should be forced to own a Dacia Sandero when they pass their driving test.

They can then experience weird devices such as a window winder or a key before these reliable-but-outdated feats of engineering are relegated to a sideshow in the Science Museum.


Coventry Climax

Much as I dislike modern boxes there's something quite appealing about the base-model Sandero's simple honesty, so you're not alone James - I too am a fan.

John Harvi

A friend in France has had a Dacia Duster for three years with no trouble. They love it, and was a good price too! They're very common on the continent where people are not quite so hung up on flash car brands.


Hi James
I agree : we have got a logan for five years now, it took us al over Europe ( (+/- 70000miles) with no trouble.You can even change the bulbs yourselves which is rare these days. It proves that there is nothing wrong with simple and proven technology

kind regards


Jan Willem

Chris Martin

More than that, maybe there will one day be a rebellion against the modern gizmo laden mobile amusement arcade that the mainstream manufacturers want us to fork out for.
A lot of consumer goods foisted on us these days are anything but progress, and working on the principle that the more there is on board, the more there is to potentially stuff up, maybe a modern equivalent of the old Ford Popular has it's place in the market.
For myself, I have long been letting the good folks on the forum know that I have no interest in anything less than 30 years old - ie, not controlled by computers - and I freely admit I could not tell the difference between Bluetooth or Blueray so I definitely don't need either in my chosen set of wheels.
If basic cheap transportation is what is needed, we could all learn from the Morris Minor, VW Beetle or Citroën 2CV. Leaving out the gadgets also scores extra 'greenie' points, if you have ever removed an electric window motor, or air-conditioning compressor you will know how much excess baggage modern cars carry, so how much fuel are we burning carrying this ballast around?
Last I heard of Dacia was the Romanian built Renault 12 called the Duster, and looking back, I have to wonder if it was entirely fair of the Regie to dump one of their less successful rot-boxes on those less fortunate, but I am guessing the rest of the Eastern European car industry has at least dragged itself into the 21st century.
What next?
Bring back the SEAT Marbella says I !!!


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