03 March 2010

Geneva show: Dacia

Good news for James May: Dacia is launching in the UK (but he’ll have to wait for the Sandero)

Geneva show: Dacia Duster

Here's some news to warm the cockles of James May's heart. Dacia, Renault-owned bargain-bucket manufacturer of the, er, legendary Sandero hatchback, is officially launching in the UK in 2010.

But at first it won't be selling the Sandero. Pants.

The first model will be the Duster crossover. This is actually rather good news, for the Duster is a fine thing. It's a conspicuous bargain at about £12,000, and has none of the pointless pretensions that blight so many of the breed.

As Renault's chief operating officer Patrick Pelata says: "It's a modern day Renault 4. Cheap, roomy, practical, and you don't mind getting it dirty." Given you still see ancient Renault 4s driven by French farmers to see their sheep at the top of mountain tracks, he's got a point.

Dacia is doing especially well in Germany, the country where, in the normal run of play, being ‘premium' counts for everything. But apparently there's a new breed of people who could easily afford, say, a BMW X1, but don't want to the flash. They want simple things and a materially simple life.

Which just happens to be just the kind of honest cheap-car philosophy our James keeps going on about.

And the Sandero? It arrives about a year after the Duster. But it will be the Mark 2 version. Let's hope it retains the charm of the original.

Paul Horrell, Consultant Editor of Top Gear magazine

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