Friday, 13 January 2012
Prepare to fire up the... Dacia Duster
YOU'D be forgiven for thinking the small, no-nonsense off-roader is a dying breed, but at least one company's determined to bring it back.
Rewind the clock back 20 years and there were plenty of options for anyone needing to head into the countryside without the budget for a Land Rover, but the likes of the Suzuki Samurai, the Daihatsu Fourtrak and the Lada Niva are long gone. Dacia, however, are banking on bucking the trend with a modern alternative to spearhead their return to the UK market later this year, and are hoping hardy rural tyes are going to reckon their Duster 4x4 is rugged enough for the rough stuff.
A spokesman for the company has said that since its launch on the continent two years ago its carved a niche for itself, and said:
“Since its launch in April 2010, Dacia's off-road model – the sixth model in the Dacia line-up – has enjoyed tremendous success in all the countries where it is marketed. It is available with 4x4 or 4x2 transmission and combines unbeatable cabin space for its price with genuine off-road ability, while the model's diesel versions are particularly CO2-efficient.
”Dacia Duster is as much a functional buy as it is a leisure purchase, and it has lost no time carving out a real market for itself since launch.“
The Romanian company is owned by Renault and is marketed as the French giant's budget brand, in much the same way that Skoda already offers us Volkswagen know-how in a cut-price package. In fact, it's Skoda which is likely to present Dacia with the Duster's biggest challenge, with the Czech company's Yeti already offering similiar off-road ability on the 4x4 versions.
However Dacia could pull it off if the predicted £11,000 entry price proves right when it arrives in Britain in October, which is half what you'd pay for an entry-level Land Rover Defender. The Duster isn't going to win any prizes for prestige or originality, but if a no-nonsense off-roader at a no-nonsense price would make perfect sense for plenty of rural motorists.