The Dacia Spring EV will arrive in the UK in revised form next year. We tried the current model to get a taste of the city car
3.0 out of 5
Dacia’s first EV has lots of promise – and we can already see why thousands of customers across Europe have bought one as an everyday town car. But we must wait to see the updated version that’ll be offered to UK customers before deciding if the Spring really stacks up here. By the time it arrives, it’ll be up against lots of low-mileage used electric superminis at roughly the same price. We suspect a bit more of Dacia’s magic will be required to make the Spring feel good value as well as cheap.
The next 18 months are going to see a huge shake-up in what we all consider an ‘affordable electric car’. And this is our first chance to try one of the vehicles that could lead the revolution: the Dacia Spring.
UK sales of the brand’s first EV are still a year away, and the car we’ll get will sport revised exterior looks and much-improved interior perceived quality compared with the French-spec left-hooker you see here.
But the basic technical stuff will be unchanged; there’s a single battery, with a capacity of 26.8kWh (usable), and a choice of two models: the Spring 45 and the Spring 65, named after their metric power outputs.
The Spring 45 has 44bhp (45PS) and 125Nm of torque, modest numbers that deliver a top speed of 78mph and a 0-62mph time of, wait for it, 19.1 seconds. The Spring 65 gains some more grunt, at 64bhp (65PS), and its acceleration figure is a more respectable 13.7 seconds.
Both versions have a range of 190 miles if you’re driving around town, and 143 miles (Spring 45) or 137 miles (the 65 we’re testing) on the combined cycle. Hooked up to a 7kW home wallbox, the battery can be refilled from empty in just under five hours.
Dacia is remaining coy on UK pricing for now, but based on European numbers, the goal of less than £20,000 looks achievable.
The Spring’s overall length is 3,734mm, around six centimetres longer than a Hyundai i10, which it also trumps on boot space, at 290 litres. But within seconds of climbing in, you realise the Dacia’s budget origins. There’s no height adjustment on the driver’s seat, and no adjustment at all on the steering wheel. The materials used throughout are rugged, robust and pretty uninspiring. There are loads of blanked-off buttons on the steering wheel, and the flashes of copper trim barely scratch the surface of the myriad tones of dark grey.
Dacia’s EV feels at home around town. Its overall kerbweight is just under a tonne and even the modest motor has enough instant shove when driving in 30mph zones.
We’d like more precision in the steering, but the Spring does a fine job of tiptoeing over the worst road imperfections, at pretty much any speed. It is very good at soaking up speed bumps, too, thanks to the soft suspension and dinky 14-inch wheels.
Things don’t fall apart completely on A-roads and motorways, but the throttle modulation does get in the way of smooth, faster driving. There’s a false stop on the pedal that you’ll find yourself pushing through when you try to keep up with 70mph traffic – and the light weight means the Romanian hatchback does get blown around by wind and passing HGVs.
The car is rather too good an example, in fact, of how unforgiving electric vehicle silence can be of all other aspects of refinement. The motor is quiet enough, but the chassis doesn’t do a great job of insulating the cabin from road noise.
There’s pronounced wind noise at speed, too; not just from the side mirrors, but also around the A-pillars in general. And the Spring’s heating fan does a good impression of a revving petrol engine, negating much of the electric motor’s politeness even when you’re sitting in slow-moving traffic.
|Model:||Dacia Spring 65 Extreme|
|Powertrain:||1x e-motor, 26.8kWh battery|
|Transmission:||Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive|
|Max charging:||50kW DC (0-80% in 56min)|
|On sale:||Autumn 2024|
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