Renault may have halved its UK product range and taken a profit tumble in 2011, but its budget car subsidiary Dacia has been growing strongly with its range of no-nonsense value-for-money cars. The Dacia Duster SUV has been winning plaudits for its cheap-and-cheerful blend of practicality and value,and leads the UK market launch next month.
Dacia: Renault's developing market brand heads West
Dacia was founded by the Romanian government in 1966, and began with license-production of the Renault 8 (Dacia 1100) and Renault 12 (Dacia 1300). But Renault would prefer you forget the 33 years of old Renault-derived Eastern European automotive oddities and pick up the story in September 1999, when they acquired a 51% ownership stake in Dacia.
Renault-owned Dacia's first model was the 2004 Logan, an object lesson in fuss-free three-box compact saloon design for developing markets spun from existing Renault small-car components. Since then the brand has grown to MPV, van and pickup versions of the Logan, the Sandero hatchback, and the Duster compact crossover SUV. Unlike logical rivals Skoda or Hyundai-Kia who have moved upmarket from humble beginnings, Dacia's remit is to remain a producer of cheap, practical, reliable transportation.
Dacia's delayed UK plans
The original plan was for Dacia to launch in the UK in 2008, with the then-new Sandero supermini. But the global financial crisis refocussed Dacia's plans and in 2010 the company began putting plans in place for right-hand drive Dacias to eventually arrive in the UK in 2013. CAR has tested the Duster in Morocco and found it to be a refreshingly unpretentious family wagon.
Dacia will launch here with a two-car range: Duster in 2012 and the next-generation Sandero joining in 2013. Final pricing has not been set, but Dacia has announced that the Sandero will start under £7000, and the Duster range will begin at under £10,000. Pre-orders will be available for a £100 deposit and the first Dusters will be delivered in January 2013
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