Watching ITV the other day I saw a car advertisement. Obviously something that I will always cock an ear to, and the ad ticked all the typical car ad boxes that we have come to expect to see these days, but for one thing – it featured a manufacturer that I hadn’t heard of.
So maybe it’s a good time to take a look at the origins of Automobile Dacia and what they’re all about.
Dacia is a Romanian car manufacturer founded in 1966, and is presently the largest manufacturing exporter from Romania. Possibly the current higher profile is partially due to the company being a subsidiary of Renault, which it has been since September 1999.
The Renault connection goes back to their beginnings though, when Dacia produced the Renault 8 under license from 1968 to 1972 which was known as the Dacia 1100. The more powerful Dacia 1100S was used by the Romanian police.
In fact, the Renault connection extended to other models as well, the limited edition Dacia 2000 was really a Renault 20 – available in only two colours, black or dark blue.
Dacia wasn’t the only eastern European manufacturer to be inspired by the successful, tried and tested mass-produced automobiles of the west of course, though sometimes this produced some rather curious offspring. One such anomaly being the attempted modernisation of the staple Dacia 1310 by adding the front of the Nissan Primera onto it.
Last autumn it was reported that Dacia were going to release what would effectively become the cheapest car on the UK market at £5,995. The Dacia Sandero certainly looks the part and is indeed marketed as a Renault Sandero in some parts of the world.
Not a new vehicle (it dates back to 2008), the Sandero became available to the UK market in January this year, and despite being the butt of many a Top Gear joke, the current economic climate surely makes this a welcome addition to the market.
So what do you get for under £6k? Enough to keep you content, safe and dry basically, there’s not really a place for very poor vehicles on the British roads these days, safety is paramount and technological improvements in the motor industry over the past 10 years have been nothing short of impressive.
The Sandero supermini meets the requirements of European regulations of course and comes with ABS, EBA, traction control and driver, passenger and side airbags. If you do a massive weekly shop, the large boot might sway you – a full 320 litres with the rear seats up and 1,200 with the seats down.
Add another hundred or so pounds on to the price and you can get a radio/cd player as well..
The other Dacia model you might have heard of is the Duster, which has been described as “..a lot of car for the money..” by What Car who gave it 3 out of 5, although their readers gave it one star more.
While the Duster may undercut rivals like the Qashqai in price by a few thousand pounds, as with the Sandero, it does struggle to compete in the refinement stakes at these low prices.
Don’t be put off by the myths of poor eastern European motor manufacturing though, under the wing of Renault, Dacia has won many an award – including, ironically, a Top Gear Bargain of the Year award for the Duster in 2012.
All in all, Dacia might be a new name in the UK to you as well, but I get a feeling that we will all be hearing a lot more of this automobile brand in the future.