Duster sweeps in with no frills; ADVERTISING FEATURE.
MANY drivers of family hatchbacks have cast envious glances at those at the wheel of Sports Utility Vehicles, due to their commanding driving position and the pure street cred these vehicles ooze.
But of course they have come at a price which would have many shrugging and walking away - that is, until now...
Dacia, the Romanian arm of the Renault Group, swept in with an SUV that is good looking, capable and can be bought in two or four wheel-drive form. The 2x4 version retails for under PS10,000!
Called the Duster, it gives the family driver a chance to own a new SUV-styled vehicle for a fraction of the cost of the more familiar, premium models on our roads.
The Duster comes with selectable four-wheel-drive for a few dollars more, giving the UK a really affordable, stylish 4x4.
While Eastern European cars of the past left a little to be desired in terms of build quality and economy, the Duster is part of a new breed, boasting stacks of Renault engineering and technology.
Indeed, the top-of-the-range Laureate dCi 110 tested gives a distinct image of deja vu, with evidence of a rummage in the Renault parts department, including the fuel and temperature gauges from Clios past.
And that is not such a bad thing, because the proven reliability of Renault parts adds weight to this car's credibility on the UK's roads. Cheap and cheerful? Yes. But cheap and nasty? Most definitely not.
This is not the first time the Dacia name has been in Britain. The Romanian national car maker, now owned by Renault, sold a licence-built Renault 12 years ago.
But this is the first time it has been seen with the power of Renault fully behind it and the results are impressive, answering the current need for cheap transport with a range of vehicles that are no-frills and exceptional value.
The Duster has already started to net awards, with more and more of them visible on the road.
After a few days at the wheel, it is a surprisingly comfortable place to be, with an excellent driving position and a smoothness that belies its low price.
It is the Dacia policy of offering a car in one class for the price of one from the class below, so the Duster can be bought for the price of a decent spec city car.
Dacia has proved itself in many countries, having factories in Romania, near Transylvania, Casablanca in Morocco and Tangier - exotic sites indeed.
But the Duster is not designed for exotic motoring. It is well equipped, even in the basic versions, and ever-so pleasant for everyday motoring, all the way.
The Dacia Duster offersof no-frills but exceptional value.