With a price tag of less than £10,000, Dacia’s Duster SUV is set to go on sale in the UK at the end of 2012. However, buyers should know that there won’t be further discounts. The Romanian budget brand is being launched as a key part of parent firm Renault’s revised UK plans. It has already been announced that popular models such as the Espace and Laguna will be ending.
Two cars are scheduled to be launched by Dacia. The first is the India-built Qashqai-sized Duster. The second is a new Sandero variant, a hatchback with five doors that would rival the Fiesta. The starting price for the Sandero is around £7000. A lineup composed of 1.6-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines will be available for these two cars. Each Renault showroom will have a particular area where the two new Dacia models will be displayed.
As these are already affordably priced, the cars would bear a sign of “value but no haggling.” At all places in Europe where Dacia presented its vehicles, this principle was used wherein the prices are very low and no discounts are given. This is true even for bulk purchases by fleet customers.
Renault doesn’t think that there is a possible conflict that could arise from offering bigger cars that are less expensive on the other side of the showroom floor as its regular lineup. Renault UK boss Thierry Sybord said that Dacia is a “good brand” that’s capable of enticing a new batch of customers. He also said that in the past, a majority of Dacia’s new buyers come from the used car market.
Dacia designed the new Duster to be capable of challenging any road and track in any place in the world. Customers seeking a Duster with a good ground clearance and a high driving position but don’t require a four-wheel-drive system could avail of the 4x2 version. Those wanting to tackle most types of terrains could avail of the 4x4 version that is tuned for off-road driving.
This any-road and any-terrain capability is further augmented by the fact that the Duster now has a stronger undercarriage, high ground clearance of over 200mm, approach angle of 30 degrees and departure angle of over 35 degrees. Moreover, the new Duster is fairly easy to drive and is agile, thanks to its compact proportions and low unladen weight of 1,180kg in the 4x2 version and 1,280kg in the 4x4 model.
It is also easy to adapt the Duster’s transmission configuration according to the need of the moment, courtesy of a distinct and intuitive control -- sourced from Nissan – placed at the foot of the centre console.
Using this control, drivers could pick any of the three available modes: Auto, Lock and 4x2. Auto mode automatically calculates the front/rear torque split according to the available grip in order to provide optimal traction at any situation. This mode provides the Duster with a true 4x4 ability, with torque transmitted through the front wheels only during normal conditions.
Once traction is lost at the front wheels or when grip is at a premium, an electromagnetic torque converter from Nissan will allocate some of the torque to the rear axle. During extreme conditions, this converter splits the torque equally between the front and rear axles. Meanwhile, Lock mode electronically sets the Duster into a 4x4 vehicle, sending 50 percent through the rear axle.
Drivers may pick this mode when traversing in low grip conditions at low speeds. On the other hand, 4x2 mode transforms the Duster into a two-wheel drive vehicle, making it suitable to drive on good roads. Interestingly, this mode allows drivers to save more fuel.