Dacia Spring Electric – Expensive compromises for the city

Dacia is a brand that has been successful in everything it does lately. At one time, it attracted attention with its cheap SUV Duster , this year its new Sandero became the best-selling European vehicle several times. All this with gasoline engines and factory LPG from production . However, emission standards are relentless…

Brands focused on affordable models must also offer "low-emission" electric vehicles. This is the only way to avoid fines for not meeting the limits for the entire fleet in the future. Therefore, the Romanian brand Dacia also had to offer an electric car through the small city car Dacia Spring. But an affordable electric car is still science fiction, which is clearly visible in the price list of the new Spring.

Spring is small but "SUV-like". It is based on the Indian Renault Kwid, its width is smaller than, for example, the Skoda Citigo, and its length can be classified as a Hyundai i10.

From the outside, the Spring has an attractive front end with prominent moldings, contrasting plastic panels and some details. Everything is actually done as best as it could be with the given proportions. When one rises above the tiny wheels under the high body and the narrow profile that tapers at the top with a relatively high rear, the Spring is actually quite pleasant to look at. And one waves a hand over mismatched metal sheets and doors, which crack when slammed, like cars from thirty years ago.

But let's look inside. It is clear that the Renault Kwid was created as a people's vehicle for developing regions, moreover, some time ago. But with a new car sold in the EU, it can already be a problem, because the demands of, let's say, a poorer Indian are diametrically different from a pampered European who tries soft plastics on the outside as well.

In front, you will enjoy an open space and you can wave your arms and legs, as the doors are very narrow and the center console does not press on your knees. When looking for a position behind the wheel, the first, main confrontation with production costs occurs. Not only the steering wheel is fixed, but also the height of the driver's seat. With my 186 cm, I settled down well, but taller figures will have a problem. He wants to try it.

Fortunately, the seats in the lower version are semi-leather (or semi-leatherette) with fabric centers, so at least they don't stick as badly as those in the higher equipment, where you simply don't have a choice. The problem with space is more likely to arise on the back bench. Any large passenger, except a small child, will need to have their knees fit into the seat in front of them.

The equipment looks promising at first glance and there is air conditioning, four electric windows, a radio with Bluetooth and DAB, and even a radar automatic braking system. However, the features that you would appreciate in an electric car with a small battery are missing. Above all, heated seats (not to mention the steering wheel and windshield). Of course, the heat pump is also missing, and an automatic air conditioner, heating and cooling only as much as is really needed, would be useful in an electric car. And fast DC charging. Although Spring also knows this, but for an additional fee and only for a higher specification.

In order not to insult, after some time you will find that it is quite possible to live with all this. And somehow you subconsciously divide the problems into the bigger ones and the acceptable ones. Among the first is certainly the absence of any drink holder and indeed any other storage space apart from the glove compartment and the sliding bowl under the center panel. Or, for example, such a banality as the impossibility of controlling the rear electric windows from the front.

In the case of an electric car, the absence of cruise control, ideally with more advanced functions, will also freeze due to recuperation. Honestly, who among you has ever actually used that useless speed limiter? I also found a button that is supposed to be used to turn off the remote tracking of the vehicle's location. That is, when Spring receives a new version of infotainment. The current one, based on current Dacias, knows nothing similar. I prefer not to even talk about blind buttons on the steering wheel…

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In the tested lower equipment there was an archaic radio with a small display and complicated controls, which I prefer not to review and will only say that it "works". I would compare phoning through this system to a child's game with cans tied with a string. I've probably never even heard such low-quality bluetooth…

In the size battle with the smallest vehicles on the market, Spring wins in the luggage compartment, which has almost 300 liters and there can be a reserve. It's a big trade-off though – small interior/larger trunk. As a family car for longer distances, the Spring is certainly not. However, Spring is more than enough for urban commuting, shopping and work within the city. You will only lift those purchases into the trunk over a relatively high edge and wonder how much extra it would cost to install at least some kind of plastic handle on the trunk lid from the inside, when the handle is missing from the outside as well…

At night comes another confrontation with savings. Above all, the instrument panel, which replaces classic or virtual alarm clocks with two round spaces filled with backlit colored segments, acts like a discotheque at night and unfortunately cannot be muted at night. You could say nothing about the lights, and while you can live with the low beams, the high beams are de facto useless. The best evidence of their luminosity is the fact that when you forget to turn them off, oncoming cars don't even blink. There is no more left for the fog lights, as well as for the backlighting of most controllers…

The vehicle also gives a strong acoustic warning about a number of other things, while sometimes it does it repeatedly for unknown reasons, and sometimes it is not clear what the driver should be careful about. And to add to that variety, the sound warning when the turn signal is on has an irregular, randomly changing interval. And that can really throw off some Monk-positive people.

The ride isn't nearly as terrible as a measly 45 horsepower and a narrow body on small, thin wheels might suggest. Thanks to the low weight, the weak electric motor accelerates the car unexpectedly bravely, and in the city one can talk about dynamic driving. And up to about 80 km/h, the acceleration is actually completely sufficient and, as with every electric car, the feeling is heightened by lightning reactions to the gas. Even a hundred is not a problem, but after crossing it, the horses start to run out very quickly and it takes a long time to crawl up to the speedometer 125, or even a slight descent. Nevertheless, Spring will keep her on the highway anyway. But at that time, other limits are already showing themselves.

Dacia Springe is significantly unstable in direction. And it is not only due to thin wheels and the absence of a stabilizer. Placing a heavy battery under the rear seat in a light minicar, i.e. almost to the rear wheels, means moving the center of gravity very far back. This, in turn, causes the front wheels to be constantly relieved and problems with traction on slippery surfaces, as well as limited contact with the road. And that's already over a hundred, when the aerodynamic lift becomes quite a problem with a light car. It would be best not to drive the Spring at any speed above 90 km/h on the highway – it was simply not born for that.

City traffic is where he was born. Driving in the city is then a complete ballad and the extremely narrow car fits almost everywhere, and when it doesn't fit, it easily spins with a great radius. Likewise, the willingness to accelerate is completely sufficient in the city, and everything is underlined by the good view from the elevated seat. The vehicle appears completely non-aggressive and does not arouse the impulses of aggression in other drivers towards a cheaper competitor on the road. It's just that most of them try to overtake him under all circumstances.

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The manufacturer indicates a range of 230 km, and this value also appears on the on-board computer after each charge to 100%. But that is rather a theoretical number under ideal conditions. In winter, we automatically deduct a third, and when traveling with more than one person, the consumption also increases. At a constant speed of around 100 km/h with the heating/cooling turned off, it will take approx. 180 km. In urban mode with the window open in the summer, the 200-230 km can be a reality. That is, as long as you keep pushing the batteries at 100%, which of course harms them and is not worth it…

In order to come close to the consumption indicated by the manufacturer, it requires summer weather, a light foot and not carrying unnecessary items in the form of passengers and luggage. It is not impossible, but in practice, expect values of around 13.7 kWh/100 km, and at speeds above 100 km/h it will be around 18 kWh/100 km. A summer eco-rally in the city may be under 10 kWh per 100 km, but it depends a lot on the way of operation.

The cover of the charging connectors is located in the center of the front, which is great and the door is designed simply and functionally, but in practice it is quite low and when you want to get to the connector, you have to squat down to see under it. Too bad they don't fold down, then everything would be fine. Spring does not have thermal management, but if you warm the battery optimally before charging, it is ready to give its best. The maximum charging power of 30 kW already seems laughable today, but it is enough in the city and Dacia knows how to use it in an unusual way. In principle, its 26.8 kWh battery does not take that long to charge.

Dacia Spring comes with the visage of an ideal city car and with its features it also fulfills this definition very well. But the problem is that it was born from a car that is not a city car, but an ultra-cheap full-size car for the poorer parts of the world. And it is sometimes too visible on him. Nevertheless, it fulfills its main function as an urban and suburban feeder very well. You will especially appreciate the dexterity and agility, and with the price tag that Spring currently has, you may even feel a bit like a snob… with a price tag of 20,000 euros, you will be entitled to that.

The Dacia Spring was purposefully designed for Western European subsidies, because in some places they reach almost half of its purchase price, and you can realistically get below the price of a gasoline car of a similar size with them. In Romania, waiting lists are made for Spring, here, something like this is still a utopia. Compared to the new trams currently available, Spring plays in a completely different league.

Because with us, for the amount you pay for Spring, you can buy, for example, the mentioned Jogger on LPG and with much better equipment. Of course, the price parity of electric and combustion cars has not yet been achieved, but it is good to think about it when making a decision. So is it really worth paying double for a vehicle the size of the Hyundai i10 just because it's electric? You have to answer that yourself…