This is our first look at the new 2010 Duster – the new economy crossover from Dacia.
My memory’s a little dusty – remind me about Dacia...
Dacia has been building cars in Romania since 1966, and, since a Renault takeover in 1999, has expanded to produce over half a million cars annually, built at plants across the world and sold in countries as diverse as Germany, Iran, Russia, Morocco and Colombia.
Since 2004 all of its cars have been based on the company’s B0 – that's zero, not a whiffy 'O' – platform, and top sellers are the mid-sized Logan saloon and estate, and the five-door Sandero hatchback.
Didn’t Dacia present a crossover concept at Geneva 2009?
So you don’t see the resemblance? Yes, the Duster concept appeared at Geneva
, and though we’re used to seeing production cars remain true to their concept these days, not so here.
The coupé profile, 21-inch alloys and suicide doors are, unsurprisingly, not present on this budget soft-roader, but the Duster is still a fairly handsome little chunker, sporting fluid lines not associated with the Logan or Sandero. It will seat five and is bigger than the Skoda Yeti, though 12% lighter than its Czech rival in two-wheel drive form.
Will the Duster clean up off road?
Don’t expect Landie-bothering performance away from the black top, but the Duster does have basic credentials for at least a jaunt across the golf course. It has a much wider track than the Logan, over 200mm ground clearance and a sump guard, and the four-wheel drive variant has a Nissan-sourced torque converter to make best use of available grip.
How about the Dacia Duster’s engine line-up?
The 1.5-litre, 104bhp diesel engine may have been the least exciting part of the Duster concept, but it is one of the few features that will make production. A more economical 84bhp version of the same engine will also be available, as will a 106bhp 1.6-litre petrol unit. Performance details aren’t yet available, but given the Duster’s weight advantage over the Yeti, it should compete well.
Will the Duster sweep into the UK?
The Dacia brand was due to relaunch in the UK early in 2009, but was held back indefinitely. High demand for left-hand drive models was cited as the reason, but economic conditions must also have played a part. Renault has not revisited the idea yet, but a spokesman stated it would not happen before 2011. However, it was confirmed that any break into the UK market would be under the Dacia brand rather than Renault.
The Duster will be built at Dacia’s Pitesti plant in Romania, and will go on sale in Europe from spring 2010, with prices starting under €15,000 (around £13,500).