After the introduction of Logan saloon, Logan MCV (seven-seat estate), Logan Van and Logan Pick-up, Dacia continues to broaden its range with the release of a generously-dimensioned, five-door hatchback: Sandero. The newcomer is manufactured in Pitesti, Romania and benefits from all the fundamental qualities that have become a hallmark of the Dacia range, namely ample cabin space, a high load capacity and robust build. Dacia Sandero will progressively go on sale in the majority of European markets starting from June 2008 and, like other models in the Dacia range, will back up its unrivalled equipment/price ratio with a three-year/100,000km warranty in most European countries.
Dacia Sandero stands out as a modern hatchback with appealing looks that convey both dynamism and robustness. The front features modern, expressive headlamps and a grille and bumper that blend harmoniously with the bodywork. Its lateral lines form an “upturned wave” and underpin the impression of solidity, thanks notably to the broad side protective strips (according to version). The rear styling reinforces the sense of a generously proportioned, spacious and well-built vehicle.
The same resolve to appeal to customers and showcase its quality continues inside the car. The new dashboard has been thought through to be both modern and functional, while there is also the opportunity to combine different colours and surface finishes in several areas (according to version). The design of the door panels also contributes to the cabin’s modern feel thanks to the smart handles and decorative trim strips (according to version). To distinguish each range in the version, Dacia Sandero is available with three dashboard trims and coordinated upholsteries. Particular attention has been paid to produce an uncluttered, practical driving environment, with easy-to-read instruments and controls which fall readily to hand.
Dacia Sandero is built on the same B0 platform as Logan featuring MacPherson-type front suspension. Certain versions also come with a front anti-roll bar which ensures excellent roadholding when cornering. Dacia Sandero’s rear suspension is also derived from the B0 platform and comprises a programmed-deflection torsion beam with coil springs and vertically-mounted, extended-travel dampers. The suspension package has been specially engineered for Dacia Sandero, including lower arm joints and a rear end which have been designed to deliver precise handling and good roadholding along sharply twisting roads. Like the Dacia range’s other models, Sandero boasts high ground clearance (155mm) which means it is able take all types of road in its stride, both in and out of town, a factor that contributes further to its versatility. The new car also benefits from underbody protection which allows it to tackle unsealed surfaces with ease.
Power steering is naturally available for most versions to ensure safe, precise steering and driving pleasure worthy of a B-segment car. The entry-level version comes without power steering with a view to keeping its price at a reasonable level. The slightly higher steering ratio compared with Clio II and work on the hub carrier and castor angle has resulted in a reduction in the effort required to turn the steering wheel.
Certain versions are equipped with a height and lumbar adjustable driver’s seat which enables the ideal driving position to be found, while the driver can get more comfortable using the height adjustable steering wheel and ergonomically-positioned steering wheel-mounted controls.
Last but not least, careful attention has been paid to thermal comfort to address the special needs of customers in a wide variety of climates and countries. The layout of the ducts has been thought through to ensure a rapid rise in temperature on start-up, as well as in extreme heat and cold.
Dacia Sandero is available with a choice of two petrol engines (1.4 75hp and 1.6 90hp) and two diesel engines (1.5 dCi 68hp and 1.5 dCi 86hp) which have already proven their worth in numerous other vehicles in the Renault family and which have actively contributed to the success of the Dacia range.
The 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol engines are a perfect match for the cost, robustness and ease of maintenance values championed by the Dacia brand, and both are renowned for the availability of high torque at low engine speeds, as well as across a broad rev-band.
The benchmark 1.5 dCi is acclaimed as one of the world’s most efficient diesel engines. Its advanced technology includes second-generation common rail direct injection which delivers high performance and very low fuel consumption. The 1.5 dCi engine is available in 68hp form and also a more powerful 86hp version which was launched in September 2007 on Dacia Logan saloon and Dacia Logan MCV (seven-seat estate). Low CO2 emissions of 120 grams per kilometre ensure an attractive ecological footprint for the 1.5 dCi engines of Dacia Sandero.
Although Dacia Sandero’s price positions it in the small car area of the market, its generous interior and exterior dimensions are in fact more in keeping with those of a vehicle from the next compact category up. Its unrivalled cabin space/price ratio has been made possible thanks to its length (4.02m), width (1.75m) and wheelbase (2.59m).
The rear bench seat comfortably seats up to three adult passengers who benefit from 878mm of headroom, 145mm of kneeroom and 1,425mm of elbowroom, while a child seat can be fitted to all three seats. In addition to the rear’s roomy dimensions, access to the rear seats is made even easier due to the fact that the rear doors open to an angle of up to 67°.
The boot capacity of 320 litres is also unbeatable for the vehicle’s price and compact dimensions, while its practical, modular layout is enhanced by the folding rear bench seat which offers a 60/40 split according to version. With the bench seat folded, the total carrying capacity extends to 1,200 litres, ensuring that Dacia Sandero stands out as a compact yet extremely spacious hatchback capable of comfortably carrying up to five adults.
When it comes to Dacia Sandero’s safety credentials, the newcomer benefits from the acclaimed expertise of the Renault Group in this field.
On the active safety front, particular attention has been paid to Dacia Sandero’s braking system which offers a degree of comfort, bite and progressive stopping power that is perfectly in keeping with the level expected of a B-segment car in Europe. Dacia Sandero can also be equipped with latest-generation Bosch 8.1 ABS which incorporates EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and, for the first time in the Dacia range, EBA (Emergency Brake Assist).
Dacia Sandero is equipped with numerous passive safety features too, including the use of materials such as high elastic limit (HEL) steel which ensures enhanced cabin resistance by minimising deformation, notably in the case of head-on impacts. The combination of the magnesium steering wheel frame and retractable steering column contributes to the dissipation of the kinetic energy produced in an impact, while the honeycomb structure of the polypropylene dashboard reduces the risk of knee injury. In addition to the materials it uses, the curved design of the lower part of the cowling matches the shape of the tibias with a view to spreading out the force of an impact should the tibias come into contact with the dash. Last but not least, legs and ankles are further protected by underfoot padding on both the passenger and driver sides.
Dacia Sandero is equipped with three-point front and rear seatbelts. The front seatbelts incorporate calibrated load limiters for enhanced protection of the thorax. Depending on version, these seatbelts are height-adjustable to optimise body restraint in case of impact. The retention system can also be upgraded to include pyrotechnic pretensioners for the front seatbelts. Sandero also benefits from ISOFIX child seat anchorage points for the outer rear seats.
Depending on equipment level, Sandero comes with up to four airbags. The driver’s airbag, which has been specially designed for it, features a vent that adjusts the pressure applied as the bag deploys. Certain versions are equipped with two lateral head thorax airbags which provide extra protection in case of side impact, in addition to that ensured by the padding and strengthening structures incorporated as standard in the doors. The lateral head thorax airbags are located in strengthened seats which come with headrests specifically designed to prevent injury to the cervical vertebrae in case of rear impact. This new set-up ensures a better position of the back and enhanced retention and comfort of the head.
In keeping with the spirit behind the B0 platform, Dacia Sandero’s design was guided by an overriding need for the level of robustness and reliability that has forged the brand’s reputation. Particular attention was paid to anti-corrosion protection thanks to several measures, including:
– wax injection of substructure and opening panel hollow sections,
– mastic sealing of body panel matings,
– additional use of wax for substructure mechanical components,
– uprated underbody, sill and wheel arch gravel protection.
The same attention has been paid to the reliability of the electrical system and electronics thanks to a system that has already shown its worth on several models from the Renault range. The driving environment and cabin wiring looms are one and the same, with no break or connection between the two, a technique which boosts reliability by reducing the risk of defective connections. Another example is the battery, the size and specification of which takes into account the car’s use in extreme situations.
To ensure that customers are immediately aware of this high level of quality, Dacia Sandero comes with a three-year/ 100,000km warranty in the majority of its European markets. Dacia Sandero also stands out through its low servicing and repair costs.
Dacia will make a dedicated offer available for Sandero customers for finance and after-sale services.
The launch of Dacia Sandero marks a major step in the development of the Dacia brand. The introduction of Sandero sees the Dacia range, which already comprises a saloon, estate, van and pick-up, reach out to a new segment, that of the hatchback, which will enable the brand to win over a new clientele.
Dacia Sandero will progressively go on sale in Europe, in Turkey and in the Maghreb regions starting from June 2008, before arriving in the UK in early 2009. Like other Dacia models, Sandero targets rational, pragmatic and younger buyers. Dacia customers tend to be one-car owners and buyers of second-hand cars who regard price as their number one purchasing consideration. The new model will consequently appeal to customers looking for a hatchback that is roomy and affordable, both to buy and run.
Dacia’s line-up in its home market, Romania, will comprise five models (Logan, Logan MCV, Logan Van, Logan Pick-up and Sandero), while in Western Europe – just three years after its launch – Dacia will boast an unprecedented range of three vehicles (Logan, Logan MCV and Sandero).
Dacia Sandero production started in Pitesti, Romania at the end of October 2007. Given that it uses the same B0 platform as Logan, it also shares the same production line as the rest of the Dacia range. More than 70% of its components are also found on Dacia Logan, which facilitates the production of the two models on the same line and also permits development and purchasing savings. The Pitesti factory is the second of the group’s production sites to produce Sandero in the wake of the Curitiba plant in Brazil which produces Sandero as a Renault for the markets in Brazil and Argentina.
Dacia teams were actively involved in the development of Dacia Sandero, since 45% of the engineers who worked on the project were of Romanian origin. The factory was also entrusted with the production of the majority of the prototypes as only the first wave was produced at Renaut’s Technocentre, near Versailles. All the others were produced at Pitesti which contributed to minimising design lead-times and costs, while at the same time facilitating the hand-over from engineering to production.
Pitesti continues to stand out as the 90 Programme’s (B0 platform) pilot plant which ensures the production of the five models, in addition to housing the ILN international logistics centre which supplies all Logan platform production sites. It plays a major part in defining production processes and training. For example, around twenty 90 Programme pilot staff and senior operators from the body shop, paint shop and assembly shop in Curitiba, Brazil, spent four weeks in Pitesti at the beginning of 2006 to receive training regarding the production processes employed to manufacture B0 platform vehicles. Upon their return to Brazil, they in turn trained the operators in Curitiba.
Since Dacia Logan’s launch, the Pitesti factory has doubled its annual production capacity which stands at 350,000 vehicles for 2008. The production rate of Dacia Logan MCV and Dacia Logan Van increased from 32 vehicles/hour in 2004 to 42 vehicles/hour in 2006, and then onto 60 vehicles/hour now in 2008 with the arrival of Dacia Sandero. Production of Dacia Sandero is poised to account for almost half of the factory’s assembly activities. A high proportion of parts are sourced locally, both specific parts developed for the European model and shared parts. Thanks to the development of a network of suppliers in the region since Dacia Logan production started in 2004, local content will be approximately 60% in the case of Dacia Sandero, and even as much as 90% if nearby countries (Hungary, Poland, etc) are taken into account.
A total of €147 million was invested in the development and production of Dacia Sandero in Europe: €65 million relative to engineering costs, plus €82 million invested in the Pitesti factory. The majority of this sum was invested concurrently for the arrival of Dacia Sandero and the factory’s switch to a production rate of 60 vehicles/hour which necessitated an additional €100 million. It is worth noting that the introduction of new, flexible robotised technology for the crimping of opening panels in the body shop has streamlined management of the diversity of models produced in Pitesti.
As was the case for Renault’s New Laguna, a Quality Excellence Plan covering design, production and sales was put into place from the start of the Dacia Sandero programme. The local purchasing team, along with the engineering department and the factory, worked closely with suppliers to ensure a high standard of quality. After identifying possible sources of risk across the full supply chain, the different players from the Renault Group set up appropriate action plans with suppliers, including the introduction of the ‘Poka Yoke’ concept in factories. This quality-enhancing tool, which is of Japanese origin (Poka = inadvertence; Yoke = avoid) is a simple yet effective way of guaranteeing that complex production operations are performed correctly.
Like Logan, Sandero – which went on sale in Brazil and Argentina in January 2008 and which will be introduced progressively in Europe, in Turkey, and in the Maghreb region starting from June 2008 – has a global calling. This new, compact, five-door hatchback will become available in South Africa in 2009 and its sale in other markets is also being considered.
In all these markets, its positioning in terms of price corresponds with that of the small car segment, despite its interior and exterior dimensions which are more in keeping with those of the segment above.
Details for the arrival of the Dacia brand and Sandero in the UK will be released nearer to launch.