I am currently on holiday in France and have been surprised by the significant number of Dacia vehicles on the roads. Both the Sandero and Duster models appear to be very popular. In addition, the front page of the latest issue of the French car magazine Auto Plus confirms that there is soon to be a facelift with “more muscle”. What do you think of the budget Dacia range? Are they as good value for money as the adverts suggest? Bottom line – would you buy one?
Hello again Dave – it’s that man with the Citroën C-Crosser, and the odd problem with the motorised throttle body, isn’t it? Hope you’ve had no further problems!
I actually have to confess to minimal experience behind the wheel of the latest Dacias, so I can only report collective opinion of our Editor and other contributors, and that of Adam Sloman who has been running our long-term Duster, with which he seems pretty happy. There aren’t too many modest cars that could handle his load of eight tyres for his MG that it apparently gobbled with ease, and it’s worth noting that the Duster easily won a 2014 Caravan Club towing car award. Another car magazine’s owner satisfaction survey also put Dacia in fifth place, and ahead of a lot of far more prestigious brands.
Renault has owned Dacia for many years, and gradually brought its designs and production up close to general European standards. But Dacia waited their time to enter the UK market and it has paid off, with 17,000 sales in 2013, and reports of generally good reliability and fairly good build quality, for the prices asked. I think the buying decision comes down to fitness for purpose and your attitude to the brand, which for some still carries a silly Skoda-like stigma. Dacia has access to Renault dCi diesel engines, which feature proven technology, showing minimal particulate filter problems as a result of their somewhat unique way of handling DPF regeneration, and all their chassis engineering is soundly-based, if somewhat dated. The main negative could be depreciation, and you have to look at this if you are a potential buyer, and overall depreciation will be kindest to those who aim to keep the car for quite some years. Maybe the forecast future values will rise, but at present there are so few Sanderos and Logans on the market that it seems owners are just not selling yet, which is a very good sign.
Regarding more power, I have no information to hand on this, but I can’t see Dacia fitting the far more costly 129bhp 1.6-litre dCi engines, and there’s seemingly not a lot more power to be got out of the 1.5-litre dCi unit. But I should possibly eat my words now, because I see that Celtic Tuning manage to get another 34 horses and 44lb ft of torque from the 107bhp 1.5 dCi engine, which is quite amazing. It maybe suggests that Dacia could indeed squeeze some more power and torque out of it – although I would be somewhat surprised.
In conclusion, I do feel that Dacias are very good value for money indeed, as are food and other products at Lidl and Aldi; but Waitrose are not losing too much sleep about them, and doubtless Audi probably feel exactly the same about Dacia. But Dacia is filling a significant gap in the market for sensible budget motoring and I wish them very good luck with their minimalist approach – our heading being one of their slogans.