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Living with Britain’s cheapest car - Day Two

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: October 19, 2013

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I'VE done my first 100 miles in the Sandero now and, great news! I still like it.

It's surprised me really. I still find the steering wheel too high, I hate the stereo, not having central locking is winding me up and the suspension is a bit bouncy but it's a remarkably easy car to live with.

There's plenty of space, for example. the cabin is light and airy and visibility is great. On the motorway it's a bit noisy but not unacceptably so and its 75bhp engine copes well, despite the fact it's clearly desperate for a sixth gear.

'Motorway speed', by the way, leaves it sitting just shy of 4,000rpm. That's fine because it's at peak torque, but it's working pretty hard by that point which is evident in the cabin through the noise of the screaming 1.2 litre engine begging for mercy.

Other than that, it's a very comfortable cruiser. It swallowed up the M1, M18 and M62 with complete composure and I arrived in Yorkshire in good time, feeling un-flustered and comfortable.

Saying that, the passenger seat is squeaking. I have to say it's the only build-quality issue that's bothered me so far.

As I've mentioned in previous blogs rattles and squeaks annoy me deeply but the only way I can cure this is to ask the wife to stay at home or ask her to lose weight. Whichever of these approaches I go with will land me with a slapped face. And my face is already sore from being clouted by the large rear door, so I'll suffer a minor irritation for now.

I've been driving it long enough now to establish that all the basic qualities of a good car are there. It handles fairly well - barring a bit of body roll and slightly wayward steering - the grip is good and the brakes are terrific.

It's also got lots of room inside. The boot is brilliant. Loads of space for all the rubbish we take with us and split-fold seats in case we go away for more than an overnight stop.

It's also not as slow as you'd expect. 75bhp doesn't sound very much in this day and age but the engine is far from wheezy and gutless. Driven well, it responds enthusiastically and has more than enough to carry its light frame around.

What I like most, however, is the interest it attracts. Driving around in Britain's cheapest car is nearly as interesting, it transpires, as driving around in one of the most expensive cars.

It's currently parked outside my friend's house near York. He's a bit of a car bore, like me, and he's seen plenty of my press cars but he's paid more attention to the Sandero than any other vehicle I've rolled up in.

It's hard to fathom why this is. But I have a theory that it's all to do with the reason I wanted to test a Sandero in the first place. It's because it epitomises the essence of motoring. It's the bare bones of the representation of our obsession with cars.

It might not have air conditioning, cruise control or sat nav but it's so refreshing to see a vehicle like this on the market. Especially for less than six grand.

And it's particularly thrilling to discover that I actually like it. I'm not as superficial and materialistic as I thought I was. I can happily appreciate good design and simple engineering competency for what it is when it works well. And I can't wait to drive it again tomorrow.

But I still wish I could raise the steering wheel a bit.

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