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

| 23 May 2013

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They can then experience weird devices such as a window winder or a key before these reliable-but-outdated feats of engineering are relegated to a sideshow in the Science Museum.