THE Dacia Sandero – the most affordable new car on sale in the UK – has eclipsed every other supermini to take home the highly coveted title of ‘Best Small Car’ in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2021.
Recently revised with a fresh new exterior design, enhanced equipment and an all-new interior, the Sandero fought off stiff competition from some of the UK’s most popular models to take the prestigious award. What Car? names the Sandero its small car champion after being bowled over by its comfort, practicality and a specification that belies its price.

Despite its bargain price, there are no obvious signs of cost-cutting inside if you go for the comfort trim, which is also very well equipped. What's more, soft suspension makes for a relaxing companion at all speeds, rear space is up with the class best, and this well-designed little car has a bigger boot than any of its rivals.

The award recognises how Dacia delivers value for money without compromising on quality. The Sandero has long been known as the most affordable new car on sale in our market although it never had that quality feel that might attract discerning buyers, but now it can rightfully lay claim to being one of the best as well.
This third-generation model really does take the Sandero to a whole new level, offering even even better value without compromise allowing customers to enjoy an award-winning car supermini for the cost of a basic city car, and that means prices from just an unbelievable £7,995 on the road.
What Car? Awards recognise the best new vehicles on sale across 26 categories. It’s far from the first time that the Sandero has triumphed in these awards annual ceremony, with the five-door hatchback previously being recognised as the ‘Best Small Car’ in its price category point for an incredible eight consecutive years, but now What Car? recognise it as the best small car, full stop.
The judge’s decision was based on thea five-star review of the TCe 90 Comfort version, which boasts an efficient turbocharged engine and a generous level of equipment including electric mirror adjustment, electric front and rear windows, body-coloured-coded mirrors, keyless entry, an eight-inch Media Nav touchscreen display with navigation, DAB radio and smartphone replication, plus automatic wipers. On the outside there’s also chrome surround to the front fog lights, plus parking sensors and a reversing camera. That’s a lot of equipment.
In addition to the top-of-the-range Comfort version, the all-new Sandero is available in Access and Essential levels. The line-up starts with the Access from just £7,995, which includes such features as automatic LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, 15-inch steel wheels, powered front windows, speed limiter, phone docking station, automatic emergency braking system and six airbags. All new Sandero customers can also choose from a variety of Euro 6D-full-compliant engines and transmission options, including the bi-fuel powertrain option which is an that pairs an LPG/petrol power bi-fuelled 11.0-litre three-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual transmission.
For the first time it is available as an automatic.

It’s a lot for the money


THE new Ford S-MAX Hybrid sports activity vehicle (right) has gone on sale, with Ford claiming seven-seat practicality with the refinement, efficiency and convenience of a hybrid.

A 2.5-litre petrol engine, 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery, electric motor and the latest generation of Ford’s power-split transmission enables an effortless driving experience that could help active families reduce their CO2 emissions while enjoying more relaxing journeys. Electric power is deployed to support petrol engine fuel efficiency or deliver silent, pure-electric driving for short periods depending on the scenario.

Battery charge is automatically replenished by the petrol engine and by using regenerative charging when coasting or braking. With no need to plug into an external power source, it is always ready to deliver electric power regardless of unpredictable schedules. This car blends sporty exterior styling with the practicality and flexibility of a multiple people mover. Easily configurable seating and load space combinations deliver variable storage capacities and a towing capability of up to 1,560kg. From a sporty, car-like driving experience to seats that fold flat at the push of a button, these are innovations that should satisfy modern life demands.
Ford have hidden the battery within a crash absorbent, waterproof structure beneath the floor and use a liquid cooling system which allows the battery cells to be packaged tighter together for greater space efficiency. This enables the S-MAX Hybrid to accept loads up to almost one metre tall and more than one metre wide. Power is sent to the electric motor to drive the front wheels for pure-electric driving for short periods, delivering refinement and zero-emission driving, particularly in urban environments. The S-Max delivers from 43.5mpg and CO2 emissions from 147g/km WLTP.
Gear selection is controlled using a rotary gear shift dial that features an additional mode for maximising engine braking when towing or descending steep slopes providing more comfortable driving and maximum energy recuperation. Intuitive features help drivers monitor and improve their fuel and energy efficiency; ‘Brake Coach’ encourages gradual braking to help return more energy to the battery, and ‘EV Coach’ informs drivers when they are using electric or hybrid power.
Occupants can enjoy connectivity on the move via the standard ‘FordPass Connect’ modem that provides Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices, keeping the kids happy, and allowing drivers to plan faster, less stressful journeys with live traffic updates from the navigation system.

In addition, FordPass Connect enables remote features including door lock/unlock, vehicle status and vehicle locator via the mobile app, as well as sophisticated local hazard information. 
 If you are looking for a vehicle to fit the whole family, tow your caravan and carry between 300 and 2,340 of luggage in the back, you could do a lot worse than the new Ford S-Max. The car could also endorse your environmental aspirations as well as preparing you for the planned ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030.
Prices start at £36,535, which is not cheap, but the S-max is a lot of car for the money.