The UK car industry might never be the same again after today’s announcement by Dacia that its first model on sale here, Duster, an SUV, will be priced from only £8,995 on-the-road.
After an anxious wait, from tomorrow at Dacia Retailers across the country, British buyers will finally get to see for themselves just what all the fuss has been about in recent years when it comes to the Dacia phenomenon, which continues to take the motoring world by storm.
To tie-in with its UK pre-launch activities at the Goodwood Festival of Speed which starts tomorrow with the Moving Motor Show, Dacia has confirmed UK pricing and specification for its eagerly-awaited Duster, offering an SUV for supermini, or in some cases, even city car, money.
Since its resurgence under Renault Group ownership, international demand has been so high for the Dacia value brand, including the Duster SUV, that right-hand drive production has not been possible. Until now. By the end of 2012, the all-new Renault-Nissan Alliance factory in Chennai, India will be producing Britain’s most affordable SUV. Versions reaching UK shores will also benefit from several changes, including improved interiors and facelifted exterior touches. Shortly afterwards, the all-new Sandero supermini will also join the fray, giving Europe’s fastest-growing automotive a two-pronged assault on the UK car market, both new and used.
Aiming to mirror its unprecedented success in other Western European markets, including France and Germany, Dacia will offer a simple three trim level Duster line-up in the UK, in both 4×2 and 4×4 guises.
Everything that Dacia does is centred around simplicity and eliminating the unnecessary. Its model range for the UK reflects this strategy, giving customers the ability to buy exactly what they need and nothing more. In spite of eye-catching entry model prices, contrary to what one might expect, a significant proportion of Western European buyers tend to treat themselves. Most tend to plump for top-of-the-range versions such as the Laureate, which offers alloy wheels, air conditioning and electric windows and mirrors, all for the price of a mid-range supermini.
Kicking off Britain’s most affordable new SUV range is the Access, starting at £8,995 on-the-road (4×2). The 4×4 version costs a jaw-dropping £10,995, the cheapest 4×4 SUV by several thousand pounds. Available with a 105hp 1.6-litre petrol engine in either 4×2 or 4×4 guise, the entry point to Duster ownership offers a compelling proposition. Standard exterior features on the five-seater include, 16” steel wheels and longitudinal roof bars, while on the inside, the high-selling model offers electric front windows, four airbags, height adjustable steering wheel and ISOFIX points on the outer rear seats. An emergency spare wheel is also fitted free-of-charge to 4×4 versions. ABS and Emergency Brake Assist, plus remote central locking are also core features, together with radio and speaker pre-wiring.
Moving up the range brings value-seekers to Ambiance. Prices for the likely second best-selling trim level in the UK start at £11,495, rising to £13,495. Naturally, the £2,500 price walk gives customers a heightened specification as well as the enhanced performance and economy of a diesel powerplant. Among its biggest draws are a 4x20W radio/CD with AUX, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and steering-column mounted fingertip controls, plus body coloured bumpers, 60/40 split folding rear seats, front fog lights and height adjustable driver’s seat.
The flagship of the Duster range in the UK, and the expected best-seller accounting for around two thirds of orders, will be Lauréate, although costing only £12,995 to £14,995, buyers could be forgiven for thinking that it’s a pricing error.
The premium for the top-seller brings several key draws. Among them are 16” alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric rear windows, leather steering wheel and trip computer. The styling inside and out also moves up a notch, with satin chrome for the roof bars, scuff plates, side sills and door handles. Body coloured, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors also appear. In the cabin, piano black detailing adds a touch of class throughout, specifically on on the door handles, centre console surround, plus steering wheel and door panel inserts.
As well as its tempting equipment feature, as a compact SUV, Duster naturally provides plenty of passenger and load space. Its well-proportioned boot gives a 475-litre space (408 litres in 4×4 with spare wheel), while optimum load space once the rear seats are dropped climbs to an impressive 1,636 litres. More than enough for several dogs, a sizable amount of leisure equipment, or even the kitchen sink.
Duster – Options and accessories
The Dacia philosophy is to make an enemy of the unnecessary. One prime example of this relentless focus on keeping costs in check is option availability and paint colours on its vehicles.
By limiting the number of options and colour palette choices available on its cars and vans, the brand can reduce production line complexity, thereby passing the savings onto its customers through lower list prices. Duster is no exception. In the UK, this leads to an easy-to-fathom options list incorporating simply two items, ASR traction control and ESC on diesel-engined versions for £350, and metallic paint. All trim levels have non-metallic white as standard. The choice of four metallic paint finishes on Ambiance and Laureate are Argentum Silver, Caspian Blue, Granite Grey and Mariana Blue, priced at £470 including VAT.
Although factory option complexity is deliberately toned down, unsurprisingly as an SUV, Duster lends itself to plenty of customisation. Customers seeking to enhance its rugged looks can choose from a set of four accessory packs.
The first pack, Adventurer, includes door sill protective mouldings and front and rear wheel arch protectors, at £445 including VAT. The second, Styling, costs £655 and brings daytime running lights and chrome for the side and front bars and exhaust tailpipe. The penultimate, Protection, as befitting its name and undoubtedly a boon for city dwellers, pet owners or the odd mud-plugging adventure, offers an alarm, rear parking sensors, tailgate protection, bootliner and front and rear mudguards at £575. The last, Touring, costs £555 and should prove ideal for outdoor types, boasting a towbar and transversal roof bars, plus a front centre armrest for increased comfort on the longer journey.