The cheapest mass-produced electric car gets a new engine. What makes it more versatile? Verification on Austrian roads.
Two years after its release on the French market, the Dacia Spring receives a series of modifications. Most important is the addition of a new power proposition, with a 65 bhp version adding to the 45 bhp engine hitherto available. In addition, Dacia is introducing a new top-of-the-range trim level called Extreme.
On the aesthetic side, the changes are minor, twelve months after the introduction of the new Dacia logo on the front. We salute all the same the copper-colored inserts, which contrast nicely with the new blue tint offered on the configurator. In the shade, it’s Denim. In the sun, it turns more towards the blue of France.
What changes on the Spring?
- The adoption of an improved engine producing 65 hp. The 45 hp machine remains in the catalog
- Damping and steering get new tweaks
- The “top-of-the-range” Expression version disappears in favor of an Extreme finish
- A few minor aesthetic changes: new colours, inserts, floor mats…
The Spring remains a small format vehicle designed above all for peri-urban use.
Dimensions of the Dacia Spring:
- Length: 3.73m
- Width: 1.58m
- Height: 1.52m
By taking the driver’s seat, you discover a cabin offering the essentials. The 4-spoke steering wheel is rough to the touch, but well designed once in the hands. Too bad its position is not adjustable. The instrumentation is readable, with a small central screen indicating the speed, framed by an econometer and a charging status indicator. We would have liked to have a greater remaining battery life indicator. The plastics are all hard, but seem designed to resist aggressors (vacuum cleaners, keys, young children, etc.) except for the lacquered parts around the central screen. The latter offers the essentials, even if the presentation is austere and the speed slow… This is nothing like a smartphone and the USB port is not very well placed (above the device).
- Nice detail: the glove box is not illuminated, but it offers plenty of space.
- Less nice detail: the passengers do not have a handle to hold on to in a curve.
The seats are made of plastic that can be easily washed with a sponge. This is all the more useful since on a hot day like during our test, their contact tends to make the occupants of the vehicle sweat, leaving inelegant marks on clothing. The very upright position – and not height-adjustable for the passenger – is not the most comfortable on long journeys. At the rear, the knee space is very correct for a vehicle of its size. On the other hand, the XXS doors do not facilitate boarding for adults and baby seats.
Video Comparison – Spacious Leapmotor T03 versus expensive Fiat 500e
The trunk still offers a very respectable capacity of 270 litres. Under the floor, there is… a spare wheel! A charging cable may kink inside this device. A second will take up space in the hold.
Impressions in town
In town, the Spring is still just as pleasant. Its narrowness (11 cm less in width than a Fiat 500e!) makes it possible to weave through the narrowest streets of central Vienna. Especially since the ultra-light steering and the short length of the hood inspire confidence when entering traffic or making a niche. The reversing camera (available on the Extreme finish) would appeal more to impressionist painters than to supporters of the hyperrealist current, but its sharpness is sufficient in maneuver.
The ears will be a little more disappointed. The lack of double glazing is felt: when driving among the scooters, their hum invades the cabin. You have to push the speakers to hear Mozart on the radio. Another small chagrin: the A-pillar, very close to the gaze and quite horizontal, somewhat obscures visibility. No worries in the rain, however. Although the Spring has a mono-blade wiper, its position and amplitude allow it to sweep more than enough space on the windshield.
New engine or not?
The Dacia Spring that we tested is equipped with a 65 hp permanent magnet synchronous motor. This is added to the range with the 45 hp offer, which remains in the catalogue. THE casing (packaging) of this electric machine is identical. White coats and shirts have decided to add coils to the stator. This allows the rotor to increase its rotational speed from a ceiling of 8,200 rpm to over 14,000 rpm. Dacia has therefore reinforced the bearings and modified the gearbox in order to adapt the response of the wheels to the new torque curve. The whole thing only cost 5 kg at the Spring. Is it a new engine or not? We leave you to deliberate in the secrecy of your conscience.
Road and Motorway Reviews
On the road, it’s not the big night. Frankly typed comfort (the adjustment of the shock absorbers has been reviewed) and devoid of anti-roll bar, the Spring tends to pitch if it is abused. The brand has reworked the power steering setting, which feels noticeably less chewing gum than before at the midpoint. But we remain little informed of the intentions of the front axle and the large deflection of the steering wheel (more than three turns to go from one stop to the other) harms the dynamism. Beware of mass transfers and especially the lack of grip. In the dry, the original tire assembly very quickly finds its limits during somewhat abrupt changes of direction. “We have identified the problem and there should be changes soon,” we are assured at Dacia. In more measured driving, the machine provides the essentials without grumbling. Let’s repeat here that the pleasure of driving is not the object of this car.
Nevertheless, there is better on the road, thanks to the new engine, which offers more extension. The cape of 70 km/h – which hitherto marked the limit from which your “acceleration” ticket was no longer valid – is now much better crossed. Only a steep climb punishes the driver, due to a falling torque. The other good surprise lies in the braking. Thanks to its measured weight – 975 kg or 5 units more than with the 45 engine – the chip stops clean and straight. And this despite the absence of disc brakes on the rear wheels.
On the highway, it’s (also) better. The hitherto dramatic times (26 seconds to go from 80 to 120 km/h) have been improved, almost halving the time to increase the counter. The maximum speed remains however limited to 125 km/h, as on the Spring 45. We therefore feel more confident in the forests of trucks, even if safety is not the number 1 asset of this descendant of the Renault Kwid (see box below), with only one star in the EuroNCAP crash test.
What new electric car to buy between 20,000 and 30,000 euros?
Autonomy, consumption and charging
During our test carried out at 50% in urban areas, 30% on the road and 20% on expressways or motorways, our Spring told us… Nothing. The trip computer doesn’t give an average and that’s a shame. Take the problem the other way around: in 130 kilometers traveled, we have reduced the level of battery charge from 100 to 33%. It therefore takes 190 to 200 km to “empty” the 26.8 kWh (net) pack.
Count on ten kilometers less autonomy compared to the 45 version. This gives us a priori a consumption very close to the 14.5 kWh / 100 km of the WLTP certification. It should be remembered here, however, that the cycle takes into account the losses on recharging.
The machine assembled in China embeds a Type 2 charger as standard, authorizing a power of 6.6 kW. On a domestic outlet, count 13 hours to bring the battery back from 0 to 100%. With a wall box, you can lower this value to around 5 hours. As an option, at 600 euros, is the cable allowing fast direct current charging. Warning: the peak power is limited to 30 kW. It takes almost an hour to go from 0 to 80% charge on the fast terminal.
Last point to address: the price. The Spring has experienced strong inflation in recent months, even before the release of this new version. The entry-level is now offered at 20,800 euros excluding bonuses, conversion bonuses or trade-ins. It is therefore almost 20% more expensive than two years ago. And if you want to benefit from the 65 hp engine, you have to pay 1,500 euros more. The reel is expensive, but the increase in versatility is real.
Watch out for bonuses. Today, the Dacia benefits from this, greatly reducing the bill. But the government is considering ending the bonus for electric vehicles manufactured outside Europe. La Spring could be one of the first victims of this new criterion, which could come into force as early as 2024.
WE love :
- More versatility
- Reduced running cost
- Cushioning comfort
We like less:
- Poor tires
- Lower prices
- Autonomy in (very slight) decrease
The even cheaper Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, from… €2,600!
A short genealogy of the Dacia Spring
To go back to the roots of the Dacia Spring, you have to go back more than 10 years. In 2012, Carlos Ghosn, head of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, was interested in the booming Indian market. He sent the engineer Gérard Detourbet (1946-2019) to the site. The latter had distinguished himself a decade earlier by inventing the low-cost model with the Dacia Logan, chasing costs down to the last penny during endless and nitpicky meetings with his teams. Detourbet oversaw the creation of the Renault Kwid, a thermal car aiming for a floor price of 3,500 euros. The machine then reached Brazil and its platform was then used in China, where the Losange was struggling to establish itself. To appeal to first-time car buyers located in megalopolises, the Kwid adopted an electric motor, a small NMC battery and became the Renault City K-ZE, marketed in 2019. A few months later, the brand decided to no longer sell vehicles under its name in Beijing and Shanghai, leaving it to the Chinese group Dongfeng to sell the vehicle under its brand. Boulogne-Billancourt finally chose to send the K-ZE to Europe under the Dacia Spring name and to Latin America under the Renault identity. However, the machine remains assembled in Shiyan, a city of 3 million inhabitants located in the center of the People’s Republic. For the European market, the Spring receives additional safety equipment (rails in the doors, ADAS, etc.).