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Charging on

Tonio Darmanin drives the plug-in hybrid version of the popular Range Rover Evoque.

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A dynamic presence

TONIO DARMANIN drives the new BMW 2 Series Active

We are about to witness the next evolution in the BMW premium compact vehicle segment with the upcoming launch of the second generation BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. The standalone vehicle concept combines spatial functionality with the signature driving qualities of BMW. Precise tweaks to the design for sharper looks, progressive interior styling, uncompli­cated versatility, far wider range of standard equipment than its predecessor, plus innovative powertrain, driver assistance, control/operation and connectivity technology make the all-rounder an even more appealing proposition for active, lifestyle oriented target groups.

Having recently reviewed the company’s flag­ship iX, I was somewhat surprised to see that so many innovations introduced by this model had already permeated down to the UKL platform representing the entry-level BMW models. It is also impressive how much of the technology and sophisticated features that are normally re­served for the larger, more expensive models are now being offered in the smaller BMW range.

The exterior design generates a far greater sense of sportiness and presence to create a modern crossover character using a reduced surface treatment in the new BMW design lan­guage. The striking front end with large BMW kidney grille features slim-contoured full-LED headlights as standard. The Active Tourer now presents a dynamically stretched silhouette, more heavily raked A pillars, long wheelbase and light-alloy wheels up to 19 inches in size as an option. A powerfully styled rear end with slim LED lights and exhaust tailpipes integrated out of sight. A choice of eleven paint finishes for the exterior include the stunning new shade Spark­ling Copper Grey metallic.

There has been a fundamental redesign of the interior. Modern geometry and standard-fitted BMW Curved Display replicate the style of the BMW iX as does the ‘floating’ armrest with inte­grated control panel for new-look gear selector lever, volume control for the audio system and other function buttons. Across-the-board we see a reduction in the number of physical control el­ements, large storage compartments and cup holders, new-style smartphone slot in the centre console’s lower section with the option of wireless charging for compatible phones.

A generously spaced five seats offering no­ticeably superior long-distance comfort includ­ing newly developed multi-adjustable seats with the option of Sensatec perforated and Vernasca leather upholstery variants as well as optional sport seats with prominently contoured side bolsters and shoulder areas. Electric seat ad­justment with memory function and lumbar support including massage function are now available as optional extras. For the first time, the occupant protection concept includes an in­teraction airbag between the front seats.

The load capacity can be expanded from 415 litres to a maximum 1,405 Litres. Rear seat back­rests can be folded down with a 40:20:40 split. Automatic tailgate operation is standard whilst an electrically extending trailer tow hitch is available as an option.

The exceptionally broad standard specifica­tion when compared to the competition also ex­tends far beyond that of the predecessor model and includes two-zone automatic climate con­trol, Sport leather steering wheel, navigation system, Parking Assistant, front collision warn­ing and the latest generation of the iDrive oper­ating system including BMW Curved Display and BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant.

Restructured equipment packages enable specific individualisation. High-quality options such as ambient lighting, a panoramic glass sunroof and a Harman Kardon Sound System add to the premium character.

The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer blazes a trail with new powertrain technology for en­hancing both driving pleasure and efficiency. New petrol and diesel engines with three or four cylinders. Introduction of new 48V mild hybrid technology generating a greater power boost. More advanced seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch transmission as standard in all model variants. Plug-in hybrid models feature fifth generation BMW eDrive technology for the first time.

Extensive upgrade of chassis technology op­timises the harmonious blend of signature BMW sporting flair and impressive ride comfort. Extra, lift-related damping at the front axle. Near-actuator wheel slip limitation for superior agility, traction and directional stability fitted as standard. Adaptive M suspension with fre­quency-selective damping, sport steering and a 15-millimetre drop in ride height available are being offered as an optional extra. The inte­grated braking system optimises pedal feel and response to braking requests from driver assis­tance systems.

The largest selection of automated driving and parking functions ever available in a compact model from BMW. Standard equipment includes Cruise Control with brake function. Front-colli­sion warning is also included as standard and now detects oncoming traffic when turning left (in countries where vehicles drive on the right) as well as pedestrians or cyclists when turning right. Parking Assistant with Reversing Assist Camera and Reversing Assistant are standard.

Other optional features include Steering and Lane Control Assistant, Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go function, Active Navigation, exit warning function, BMW Head-Up Display, Sur­round View, Remote3D View, BMW Drive Re­corder and a Remote Theft Recorder.

For the first time the new iDrive operating sys­tem has been fitted in a BMW for the premium compact segment. BMW Curved Display forms a fully digital screen grouping comprising a 10.25- inch information display and a control display with a diagonal of 10.7 inches with a consistent focus on touch and voice control.

The new My Modes combine vehicle settings with corresponding configurations for the in­terior experience. A cloud-based BMW Maps navigation system with the option of Augmented View on the control display is also available. BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant offers ex­tended capabilities and an interior camera makes it possible to take snapshots or have pic­tures of the interior sent to the customer’s smartphone. Smartphone integration using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and a personal eSIM designed for the new 5G mobile technology can be used in the vehicle.

Initially the new Active Tourer will be avail­able with a choice of 3 petrol and one diesel vari­ants but very soon we will see the introduction to two Plug-in Hybrid variants which will offer and electric range of around 90km and will benefit from the generous grant currently being offers. The new Active Tourer will shortly be available for viewing and a test drive at Muscats Motors.

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An electric scooter that does 100km/h?

Tonio Darmanin drives the Silence S01 scooter

The Silence S01 is an efficient and technologically high quality 125cc-class electric scooter made by a Spanish company that is dedicated to ecological mobility. That acceleration speed is comparable to that of a 250cc motorcycle.

But that is not all. It is definitely original with a detachable 5.6kw/hr battery that incorporates a trolley and can be carted away and used as a mega power bank. This allows for a low and comfortable position for your feet and space for two helmets under the comfortable seat.

The S01 comes with three ride modes: Eco (max speed 75km/hr, range 140km), City (max speed 95km/h, range 105km) and Sport (max speed 110km/h, range 85km). The in-hub electric motor develops 12hp/7Kw and enables acceleration to 50km/hr in 3.9 seconds.

Silence Scooters are designed and built in Spain and available at Kinds in Mosta. Prices from €6,150 before government grant and scrappage scheme.

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You can depend on this

TONIO DARMANIN drives the new Dacia Duster.

A recent visit to Dacia’s Technocenter in Paris gave me the opportunity to meet up with the company’s top executives and better understand the strategic path it is planning for the coming years.

The company’s CEO Denis Le Vot highlighted that Dacia is in the process of transforming its corporate branding which will herald a transformation of its product offering and offensive.

Since Luca De Meo took over at Renault group in 2020, he set in motion a ‘Renaultution’ that will see Group Renault’s strategy shift from volume to value. Quoting De Meo: “This will feed our brands’ strength, each with their own clear, differentiated territories; responsible for their profitability and customer satisfaction.”

One major move involves the appointment of Miles Nuernberger as the new design director of Dacia and Lada business unit. Miles previously worked for Ford and Citroen but joined Aston Martin in 2008 in exterior design, and was appointed design director in 2018. He was in charge of design for the Aston Martin DBX, the brand’s first SUV, as well as the Lagonda brand relaunch, including the Vision sedan and SUV concepts. He will be helping Dacia expand their model range beyond the small car segments.

While in Paris, I had the opportunity to drive various vehicles, including the new 100 per cent electric A-segment crossover, the Dacia Spring which should sell in most markets for €16,900 before government incentives. This represents a massive breakthrough in EV pricing and I will write about this in a future issue of this publication.

I also drove the new Duster which is in its fourth generation, having sold nearly two million units since its launch and making it one of the major pillars in the Dacia product line-up. This is actually a facelift but it does introduce many innovations mainly driven by customer feedback and involve both aesthetic but also fundamental changes aimed towards a better ownership experience.

At the front end, the new Duster adopts the style features of Dacia’s refreshed visual identity first seen on the New Sandero and Sandero Stepway. New light units include Y-shaped daytime running lights, a new shape that also inspired the new 3D chromed radiator grille. This more contemporary front end reinforces the new Duster’s personality.

The always-on lighting at the front and rear embody the new Dacia light signature, and the Duster is the first Dacia model to be equipped with front LED direction indicators. This technology is also used for the dipped headlights (with automatic main beam activation as standard), and the number plate lights. As well as lower electricity consumption, the LEDs offer brighter lighting, day and night, providing greater visibility for both the driver and other road users.

Thanks to the advanced expertise of Dacia’s innovative designers and engineers, the Duster’s aerodynamic performance has also been improved through the design of the new rear spoiler and new 16- and 17-inch alloy rims that have been put to the test in a wind tunnel.

The new Duster improves the comfort of its occupants with a more inviting cabin. It is equipped with new upholstery, new headrests, and a high centre console with a wide retracting armrest. The new Duster also offers two multimedia systems with a new eight-inch touchscreen. The upholstery for the seats is also new, and the fabric and shape of the enhanced headrests offer improved ergonomics. The new, slim profile of the headrests improves the visibility in the passenger compartment for rear passengers looking to the front and vice versa.

A major new feature is the inclusion of a high centre console with a sliding armrest that retracts 70mm. Available on selected models, it houses a closable, 1.1-litre storage compartment and two USB charging sockets for the rear passengers.

The comprehensive standard equipment includes an onboard computer screen, automatic main beam activation and cruise control and speed limiter with backlit controls on the steering wheel. Automatic climate control with a digital display, heated front seats and a hands-free card are available on higher specification versions.

The new Duster is available with a choice of two new multimedia systems. In addition to the Dacia Plug & Radio audio equipment (radio, MP3, USB, and Bluetooth), two new, user-friendly multimedia systems are available: Media Display and Media Nav. These are accessed through the new centrally mounted eight-inch touchscreen on the dashboard.

The interface on Media Display and Media Nav has a vehicle tab that is used to access economical driving information, and on the four-wheel drive version, the 4×4 monitor which displays an altimeter, inclinometer, and compass information.

True to its heritage, the Dacia Duster is a dependable SUV for both everyday and off-road use. Its high ground clearance, new tyres and specific 4×4 monitor (on the four-wheel drive version) mean the Duster is at home on both the road and off the beaten track. The new Duster is your everyday companion and continues to offer genuine all-terrain features, including a ground clearance of 217mm on the two-wheel drive version and 214mm on the 4×4, a breakover angle of 21 degrees, an approach angle of 30 degrees and a departure angle of 34 degrees on the two-wheel drive version and 33-degrees on the 4×4. I actually had the opportunity to test the 4×4 version on a demanding off road track and was impressed by its capability.

The new Duster is now available with a six-speed automatic EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) gearbox with the TCe 150 engine, while the capacity of the LPG tank on the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel version has been increased by 16.2 litres, extending its range by more than 155 miles.

The two-wheel drive version of the new Duster now boasts a six-speed automatic EDC gearbox combined with the TCe 150 engine. It offers the comfort and pleasure of an automatic gearbox while keeping fuel consumption and CO2 emissions close to those of a manual gearbox.

With the new Duster, Dacia have reaffirmed their credo for building attractive, robust, versatile but most of all affordable vehicles. This results in longer-than-average ownership, higher residual values and stronger brand loyalty than many of its competitors.

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Style and substance?

The new Opel Mokka – is it the most stylish crossover currently on the market, asks Tonio Darmanin.

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New intelligent sportiness

The new GTX product brand from Volkswagen is the first flagship model designed for more performance.

“The ID.4 GTX is our first all-electric high-performance model under the GTX label,” said Klaus Zellmer, board member for sales, marketing and aftersales at the Volkswagen brand.

“It offers practical good sense combined with driving pleasure. The ID.4 GTX is as sporty as a GTI, as comfortable as an SUV and as sustainable as the other members of the ID. family. And with the GTX we are once more accelerating our ‘Way to Zero’ – to make Volkswagen net carbon-neutral by 2050.”

In Europe, the high-performance models of the ID. family will bear the designation GTX in future. Like with GTI and GTE, this stands for an independent product brand. With GTX, Volkswagen is charging the world of electric mobility with new, intelligent sportiness that combines performance and sustainability.

The battery of the ID.4 GTX has a net energy content of 77 kWh, enough for a customer-oriented range of 340 to 480 kilometres. With a maximum charging capacity of 125kW, the battery can be recharged quickly. Two electric drive motors, one each on the front and rear axles, jointly deliver a maximum output of 220 kW (299 PS) and can work together as an electric all-wheel drive – a premiere for the models of the ID. family. The flagship model in the ID.4 product line accelerates from 0 to 60 km/h in 3.2 seconds and from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds. The vehicle’s top speed is electronically limited to 180 km/h.

“The ID.4 GTX is our first all-electric high-performance model under the GTX label”

Klaus Zellmer, board member for sales, marketing and aftersales at the Volkswagen brand

The standard Vehicle Dynamics Manager connects the optional adaptive chassis control with the XDS electronic axle differential lock and manages their interaction with maximum precision. It also works closely with the all-wheel drive control as well as the braking control system. This ensures that driving dynamics and stability reach the best possible level in every situation.

The design of the ID.4 GTX underscores its extraordinary character, combining driving pleasure with a robust look. The familiar light strip at the front has been combined with powerful, dynamic elements – in particular, the three honeycomb elements that form the daytime running lights. They convey the vehicle’s sporty character even when it is stationary and establish a connection to the Golf GTI04. Alongside the newly designed bumpers, the eye-catching elements at the rear include the 3D LED tail light clusters with brake lights that form an X.

The new and streamlined structure for the equipment options also reflects these design characteristics: as the first member of the ID. family, the ID.4 GTX will be launched with a completely revamped structure for the optional equipment in the configurator. The customers first determine the appearance of the vehicle. This is then followed by a clearly organised selection of packages. Customers can choose between optional Design, Infotainment, Assistance, Comfort and Sport packages, all of which are available in both Standard and Plus variants. This new option structure will soon also be available for the other members of the ID. family, the ID.3 and the ID.4.

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To the power of 500

TONIO DARMANIN says the new Fiat 500e has all the makings of an icon.

The New Fiat 500, the first fully electric car from FCA, has made its debut. The new generation of the iconic city car has a range of up to 199 miles (WLTP) and receives 85kW fast charging as standard. Production of the New 500 returns to its birthplace of Turin, Italy where the original model was first created 63 years ago.

The New 500 takes inspiration from the generations before it. The first generation of 500 offered freedom and mobility, establishing itself as an icon. Revived in 2007, the second generation introduced style and charm to the iconic city car that went on to conquer the world. The third generation is more sustainable, connected and autonomous, adhering to increasingly stringent regulations and using its popularity to inspire change.

Range and charging times are two key considerations for customers. The lithium-ion batteries, with a capacity of 42kWh, give the New 500 a range of up to 199 miles in the WLTP cycle. To optimise charging time, the New 500 is equipped with an 85kW fast charge system. It takes only five minutes to build up a sufficient energy reserve to travel 30 miles, more than the average daily commute. Using a fast charger can also power the battery to 80 per cent in just 35 minutes. The Combo 2 socket, located on the rear right side panel of the car, has the ability to accept both AC and DC charging.

Home charging solutions are also available. The launch edition of the New 500 comes complete with an easyWallbox, a home charging system that can simply be connected to a normal home outlet. ENGIE EPS developed this solution exclusively for FCA. This simple, accessible “plug-and-charge” solution can be managed easily via Bluetooth. It can stabilise energy load by charging a 500 at home with up to 3kW of charging power, without the need for professional installation. The easyWallbox can be upgraded to 7.4kW, providing a full charge at home in just over six hours. The New 500 also comes with a Mode 3 cable for charging at up to 11kW from a public charge point.

The New 500 has three driving modes: Normal, Range and Sherpa, which can be selected to suit your driving style or requirements. Sherpa mode optimises the available resources to reduce fuel consumption to a minimum, enabling it to reach the destination set on the navigation system or the nearest charging station. Just like a Himalayan Sherpa, who is in charge of the whole expedition and is a guide to the destination, this driving mode adjusts various parameters: maximum speed is limited to 50mph; accelerator response is managed in order to reduce energy consumption; and deactivation of both the climate control system and heated seats (the driver has the option of activating them at any time).

‘Normal’ mode is as close as possible to driving a vehicle with a normal combustion engine, while ‘Range’ mode activates the one-pedal-drive function. By selecting this driving mode, the new 500 can be driven with the accelerator pedal alone. Releasing the accelerator causes much greater deceleration than with a normal combustion engine, almost as if the brake pedal was pushed. The brake pedal must be used to bring the car to a complete stop, however with daily use and a little experience, it is possible to drive using just the accelerator pedal.

The electric motor has an output of 87kW, providing a maximum speed of 93mph (self-limited) and acceleration from zero to 62mph in 9 seconds and zero to 31mph in 3.1 seconds.

The New 500 is the first FCA car to be equipped with the new UConnect 5 infotainment system, the connected platform designed for the future. Developed with the idea of providing customers with a completely new user experience, UConnect 5 is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto operating systems and can be used in wireless mode.

The 500 offers seamless integration with a smartphone, offering a 10.25-inch high-definition horizontal touchscreen with a 16:9 aspect ratio that fits perfectly into the car dashboard.

The UConnect 5 system works both inside and outside the car, allowing the driver to set the navigation route in advance, and to pre-condition the climate. Smartphones can be connected in just five seconds using wireless functionality.

In terms of style, the New 500 implements future mobility in an Italian way, bringing together the considerable legacy of the two previous generations. Integrating the classic and cool style of the 500 rooted in 63 years of history, the New 500 is still an iconic city car with the same stylistic proportions and clean design. During the design phase, the Fiat Centro Stile worked on clean lines and a consistent language to define the look of the third generation: crisp, advanced and compact, while being more graceful and elegant, shaped around a more proportioned approach to the chassis. This gives a perception of increased stability and dimensional presence.

Its form demonstrates the same creative spirit. The substance of the new platform has given the third-generation 500 an incredible presence: it is 6cm wider and 6cm longer, the wheelbase has been extended by 2cm, and the wheels are larger and further apart, giving it more determination and greater comfort, despite its length remaining under four meters.

Inside, the 500 is completely new, with clear references first generation. Centro Stile has furnished the interior by distributing the bulk efficiently to achieve simplicity, trim aesthetics and provide visual clarity. This is exemplified by the wide dashboard and the modular storage solutions between the two front seats where the gear lever was originally located. There is more leg and shoulder space for occupants, while the flat floor houses the lithium batteries without compromising the luggage compartment capacity, which remains unchanged. The result is a well thought out and cleaner interior, with fewer buttons and crisp, harmonious lines.

The New 500 is the first four-seater convertible with zero tailpipe emissions. As an icon of La Dolce Vita, another unique feature of the new city car is the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS). This is an acoustic warning for pedestrians that is mandatory at speeds up to 12mph. The chosen sound is not a common acoustic signal, but rather the music of Amarcord by Nino Rota, in pure Dolce Vita style, an example of the most authentic Italian creativity.

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The classic ‘B’

This ‘B’ certainly deserved an ‘A’, says JULES CHRISTIAN.

The British car manufacturer MG has always been associated with performance cars, the letters MG standing for Morris Garages. The brand was later integrated into the British Motor Corporation in 1952.

Following the success of the 1950s MGA, aiming at the mid-level sports car market, in 1962 the company introduced the convertible MGB roadster, mainly in response to the demand for a more comfortable sports car version of the very basic MGA.

Competing in the marketplace with the likes of the Triumph TR4 and Sunbeam Alpine, the design in its day was ahead of its time. This included incorporating crumple zones to help protect driver and passenger in the event of an accident, and using monocoque construction as opposed to building the car on a chassis. This meant an altogether lighter car, which helped to make its performance quite impressive, despite using the old 1798cc, four-cylinder B-Series engine with twin SU carburettors, which had its origins as far back as 1947.


The MGB with its steady handling, spritely performance and fuel economy made it an attractive alternative to the big gas guzzling cars in the US, where the majority of the overall half a million cars were sold. This was the opposite of the UK market, where the initial response from the sports car fraternity was rather lacklustre. You see, the MGB, even with its upgraded engine in 1967 was too sensible! The reliability was improved, the balance was good, the performance adequate, the handling totally predictable, but it did not have the hairy-chested character of the sports cars around at the time that most enthusiasts seemed to relish.  Remember, the second-hand marketplace was then abundant with the likes of the Austin Healey 3000, the Jaguar XK150, the E Type, Aston Martin DB4’s, Sunbeam Tiger V8’s etc., which were rather more exciting.

It was not until 1965 that the British market took an upturn with introduction of the 2+2 MGB GT. Designed by Pininfarina, it was probably the first use or the now common hatchback style and was an instant success. This classic model was to continue in production in the UK through till 1980.

MGB Limited Edition

In 1967, with the planned production-end of the aging Austin Healey 3000, MG replied to the hairy-chested brigade by producing the MGC, using the big straight-six engine from the Austin three-litre saloon. With suspension, floorpan and structural changes to accommodate the heavier engine, the enviable handling characteristics of the MGB Roadster were badly affected. In fact, one heard alarming tales of doors opening under hard braking from high speed on a corner! A succession bad reviews and lack of commitment for changes by the owning group BLMC, meant the MGC and the more civilised MGC GT were only produced until 1969. Today, however, with some modern adjustments, examples of the MGC with their distinctive bonnet bulge, can not only be made to handle properly, but have become highly collectable.

MGB Original Roadster

Now equipped with new Rostyle wheels and with the continuing demand for a more powerful version of the MGB, 1973–1976 saw the production of the MGB GT V8, regarded by many as the best version of all. Unfortunately not available  as a roadster, this MGB used the classic American Buick 3.5 litre V8 engine, already in use in the Rover P5 saloon. This proven V8 power plant was actually 18kg lighter than the original four-cylinder engine, increasing the power output from 95bhp to an exhilarating 137bhp. This gave the MGB GT V8 a healthy 0-60mph time of 7.7secs and a top speed of 125mph, and needing no structural changes, meant the car kept its traditional handling characteristics, if not improving on them.

MGB with rubber bumper

By 1975 US pollution and safety standards were becoming increasingly stringent. As the major market for the car was still the US, this resulted in the UK car losing its classic chrome bumpers in favour of rather ugly rubber safety versions.  The US headlight height ruling then required raising the suspension one inch, which radically affected the vehicle handling and further emission regulations diminished the car’s performance. In the UK, financial restructuring by the parent company, now British Leyland, meant the Abingdon factory, where the MGB was produced was to close in 1980, all contributing to its demise. The 1979/80 final runs of the MGB were “limited edition” models: black versions for the US, gold Roadsters [PIC5] and silver GT’s for the UK.

That’s not quite the final chapter. By the end of the seventies and during the 1980s, the demand for sports cars had diminished and hot hatches were the trend. It was not until 1989, when Mazda’s brave MX5 came on the scene to rejuvenate interest in convertible motoring, that the last vestiges of the B were seen in the guise of the MG RV8. Although not regarded by many as a true MGB, this was basically an ‘alike’ MGB V8 roadster, produced from 1993-1995. It was only a moderate success as much of the mechanical technology was now very antiquated and only 2000 were produced.

MGC Roadster

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A functioning economy

TONIO DARMANIN drives the new Sandero and Sandero Stepway.

Dacia is a leader when it comes to promoting a sensible form of car consumption and is now more than ever aligned with the real expectations of its customers. It offers simple, spacious, reliable and robust vehicles with no unnecessary frills, at the best price on the market.

Although a shift in mindset had already been under way for a few years, the unprecedented backdrop of the last few months has more than ever before encouraged drivers to consider more sustainable consumption and to turn their focus back to what is really essential, while still expressing their needs for mobility and freedom. More and more customers are returning to a more pragmatic approach when buying cars.

For more than 15 years, Dacia has met that need by offering drivers cars at a fair price. The new Sandero and the Sandero Stepway embody Dacia’s DNA. An iconic and a very popular model, the Sandero has been the best-selling car in Europe in the retail customer market since 2017 and the best-selling Dacia model with almost 2.1 million cars sold, representing 32 per cent of the carmaker’s sales since 2004. The Sandero Stepway, the more adventurous version, represents 65 per cent of all Sandero sales, with more than 1.3 million cars sold.

Dacia has revamped its offer in the city and versatile compact car segment with the Sandero and Sandero Stepway to meet all the needs of retail customers. While the carmaker has kept the same external dimensions, both models now offer more modernity, roominess and versatility with the fundamental simplicity and reliability that drivers have come to expect from Dacia.

With a new platform, they offer more features, increased active and passive safety, new engines and a new automatic transmission and an all-new six-speed manual transmission. With its shoulders and marked wheel arches, the Sandero exudes a strong personality and sturdiness. Nevertheless, the overall lines are smoother, with a more sloping windscreen, a lower roof and flowing roofline with the radio aerial at the end.

Ground clearance is unchanged, and yet the Sandero feels lower and more grounded with wider tracks and flush-mounted wheels. The front and rear lights unveil Dacia’s new Y-shaped LED light signature, giving the Sandero a strong identity. A horizontal line joins the two lights both at the front and rear and extends into their respective LED lines, giving the car a greater visual presence. The LED headlights, offered as a standard automatic feature at all trim levels.

The design of the door handles reveals a focus on quality and more ergonomic shape. Most versions now have electric boot release on the lower tailgate section, improving looks and practicality. The new shape of the doors and wing mirrors improves the car’s aerodynamics while reducing air noise for passengers. Inside, the dashboard features an insert wrapped in fabric while the air vents boast an all-new shape.

The Sandero Stepway is immediately recognisable at the front with its unique ribbed and

more domed bonnet, the chrome Stepway logo under the front grille and the curved fenders above the fog lights. The front and rear bumpers include a body-coloured metal skid plate designed to protect the original colour from everyday scratches.

The Stepway features the design codes of the crossovers with a 174mm raised ground clearance, roof bars featuring the logo, large fender flares and specifically textured reinforced door bottoms.

The Sandero Stepway’s roof bars may look as if they are quite simply an attractive visual feature, but they are also adjustable. Using a key located in the glove compartment, they can be easily dismantled in just a few seconds and turned into a roof rack with a load capacity of 80 kilos, which is the same as standard roof bars.

The interior upholstery is customised with the Stepway logo, while the door panels and dashboard have orange fabric inserts and edging.

The Sandero and the Stepway offer three back seats which can each accommodate three adults, a 1/3-2/3 split-fold rear bench seat (depending on the versions) and a family-sized boot. The boot of the Sandero has a 410-litre capacity and features a flat floor with adjustable height floor two positions depending on the versions. It meets the roominess standards of the upper segment of the market, especially as it offers best-in-class rear passenger legroom, with an additional 42mm for the Sandero.

At Dacia, they have always believed that modern cars should not be filled with non-essential features. Dacia has designed the new features of the Sandero and the Stepway in line with the development of customers’ main expectations. Standard features include a smartphone holder (removable depending on the version), an on-board computer screen, an automatic headlight activation, a steering wheel featuring speed limiter and cruise control on all trim levels.

New automatic air-conditioning with digital display, heated front seats, a handsfree card featuring remote boot release, electric parking brake, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors and automatic windscreen wipers are all available as a standard feature or options depending on the market. In a first for Dacia, an electric glass sunroof will be available on the Sandero.

The new CMF modular platform used on the Sandero and Stepway combines greater resistance and rigidity with less weight. The recommended engine is the TCe 90 turbocharged one-litre three-cylinder unit paired with a six-speed manual transmission or CVT automatic transmission.

The new modular CMF platform of the new Sandero and Stepway enables three major improvements. The first is acoustic: with a lighter and stiffer cradle, front block and body structure, vibrations are reduced. The second concerns the ground connections: the widening of the tracks by 41 millimeters on the Sandero and 29 millimeters on the Sandero Stepway respectively improves handling and road behaviour. The last concerns passive and active safety, with the integration of the latest generation of driving driver-assistance systems.

The primary reason Dacia have been so successful is that they recognised that there exists a substantial segment of customers who require attractive, reliable efficient and safe cars with no extra frills – they are happy with what is essential to ensure a pleasant and comfortable driving experience but without breaking the bank. And that is exactly what the new Sandero and Stepway offer customers.

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