Dacia is a budget manufacturer that has taken the UK and Europe by storm in recent years, with the car range offering quality at an affordable price.
Marketed as the best value car brand in the UK, Dacia aims to be front of mind for those thinking of buying an award-winning car on a lower budget. And with so many Dusters currently on the road, it appears that that message has been received loud and clear.
A brief history of Dacia
Dacia was created in Romania in 1966, with the brand’s first car being a rebadged Renault 8 which was known as the Dacia 1100. From 1968 to 1972, 37,546 cars of model 1100 were produced.
In 1969, the first Dacia 1300 left the assembly line and in over 34 years of production, saw more than 2.5 million units produced. In 2004, the last models of the 1300 series rolled out the gates of the Dacia production facility.
With a history of collaboration since Dacia’s launch, Renault took over Dacia in 1999, opening up a new era in terms of quality. This saw the Logan launched in 2004, designed primarily for emerging markets, and one year after Romania joined the EU the Sandero was launched in 2008. This momentum continued in 2010 with the launch of Dacia Duster with its USP being the most affordable SUV on the market.
Today, the Dacia brand operates in 44 countries in Europe and the Mediterranean region, serving more than 7 million customers. With the UK accounting for over 200,000 sales it shows the real success of the bargain brand. But which models in the Dacia car range are available in the UK?
The Dacia Sandero was launched in Europe in 2008 at the Geneva Motor Show, with the supermini developed at Renault’s Technocentre near Paris. However it wasn’t until the second generation that the no-frills model made it to the UK.
The second generation Sandero was revealed by Dacia at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, receiving an update in 2016 to include LED daytime running light and a 1.0-litre petrol entry-level engine. In January 2013, What Car? awarded the second generation Sandero as the ‘Best supermini less than £12,000’, noting that “it offers something genuinely new and different in that it brings real space for bargain prices”.
The third and current generation of the supermini was launched in 2020. Totally redesigned from the ground up, the Sandero remains the cheapest car in the range starting from £9,845. With new LED Y-shaped headlights, hill start assist and emergency brake assist all as standard, two trims are offered: Essential and Comfort.
Essential has core features such as media control, Bluetooth, smartphone app integration, DAB, cruise control and speed limiter, and manual air conditioning. Comfort builds on this with additional features including rear parking sensors, keyless entry, auto lights and wipers and front fog lights.
Dacia Sandero Stepway
Building on the success of the Sandero, and identifying trends in the automotive market towards more of rugged crossover styling, Dacia launched the Sandero Stepway 2009 at the Barcelona International Motor Show, arriving on UK shores with the second generation in 2012.
Like a Sandero wearing body armour, the Stepway is characterised by its slightly raised driving position, roof bars, chunky plastic wheel arch extensions, and bumpers with integrated skid plates. And though you wouldn’t get away with taking the Stepway off-road, it’s ideal for the urban jungle.
Starting from £11,945, the Stepway is slightly more expensive than the regular Sandero. With three trims, Essential, Comfort and Prestige, outside of styling for that money you also get various levels of kit.
Essential has core features such as media control, Bluetooth, smartphone app integration, DAB, cruise control and speed limiter and body coloured bumpers. Moving up to Comfort trim adds rear parking sensors, keyless entry, auto lights and wipers, and leather steering wheel.
At the top of the range, Prestige has additional features such as an 8-inch infotainment, smartphone mirroring, steering wheel controls, automatic air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels and an electric parking brake.
The jewel in the crown of the Dacia car range, the Duster is a model that has built a solid reputation with drivers since it was introduced to the UK in 2012, winning Top Gear Bargain of the Year and Scottish Car of the Year in that same year.
Erring closer to a jacked-up estate than a bulky 4×4 in design, the Duster was launched in the UK with two-wheel drive or four-wheel-drive as an option, with its exterior characterised by a chrome grille, roofbars and 16-inch wheels.
The second generation was released in 2017, and though it matched the outgoing model in size and stature it had been completely redesigned and upgraded. Looking more contemporary and slightly more upmarket, the Duster now featured a wider grille, new headlights, sculpted bonnet, large skid plate, 17-inch wheels and a restyled rear. On top of this there was increased ground clearance as well as hill-start assist and hill descent control.
Going from strength to strength, this second generation model has recently been refreshed with some visual improvements and technological improvements. This included a more modern front grille with Y-shaped daytime running lights, and a redesigned rear spoiler for improved fuel efficiency.
Starting from £13,995, three trims are offered in the Duster range. Essential offers manual air-conditioning, DAB, Bluetooth, USB connection, electric front windows, cruise control and speed limiter. Mid-range Comfort spec adds to this with an 8-inch media display with smartphone replication, rear parking camera, height & lumbar adjustable driver seat and 16-inch alloy wheels.
At the top of the range, Prestige offers an additional level of tech with 8-inch infotainment with wireless smartphone replication and navigation. Automatic air-conditioning and multiview camera also feature as well as 17-inch wheels as standard.
Coming soon: Dacia Jogger
Dacia already has a reputation for practicality and value, but they’re hoping to expand on that offering with their first seven-seater family car: the Dacia Jogger.
Offering the length and practicality of an estate, the spaciousness of an MPV and the styling of an SUV, Dacia has promised the Jogger will be in a class of its own when it joins the Dacia car range early next year.