A Dacia is the first new car of choice for used-buyers who want to move up the motoring ladder, says Robin Roberts.
From its UK launch in 2013, the Renault-owned Dacia brand sold 17,000 in 12-months and it’s rapidly climbed ever since adding about 5% each year.
Two-thirds of sales are the Sandero hatch and Stepway SUV with the Duster accounting for 30% of registrations.
Dacia has the Duster SUV in 2WD and 4WD, four trim levels, 110 diesel or 115 and 120 petrol engines from under £9,500 to almost £16,900. The Logan Estate is priced between £6,995 and £11,400 in three versions with the 90hp diesel or choice of 75 and 90hp petrol engines and up to 1518 litres loadspace.
Sandero is a 5-door hatch in normal or SUV bodysyles, the widest in the range from £5,995 to £11,395 but only 2WD despite its appearance, three trim specifications and 75 or 90 petrol units and 90 diesel.
Dacia brand manager Louise Sullivan said the increase is down to the value-for-money proposition, equipment and warranty appeal, particularly to 47% of drivers who have previously only owned a used car. “We are getting people coming over to us from all brands, including up market older models, who really appreciate the Dacia package and pricing,” she said.
“One of the big attractions is our fixed prices so buyers know they don’t have to haggle. We also have models in popular sectors such as hatchbacks and SUV and the range is straightforward.”
Dacia has 161 UK dealers who are already Renault outlets and they have a good customer base around the country, but the Isle of White and Wales are particularly good areas for them.
The dealers tend to be well established family businesses with a strong community link and the Dacia buyers appreciate that, she added.
“We often get one owner recommending to another family member or a friend and they buy one, and so on.”
The economy can also influence buying habits at times, said Ms Sullivan, who added, “If people are feeling uncertain about the economy they want to hang onto their money, look for some security, and see our brand with its Renault backing providing a new car which is not too expensive. As more appear on the roads buyers also feel more confident.”
For the better off families a new Dacia is often seen as a good second car to have for general runabout journeys rather than a potentially troublesome second-hand model.
In 2017 there is for the first time a Dacia Duster automatic option with the 110 diesel engine and this is expected to widen further the car’s appeal and a 1.0 3-cylinder low emissions engine is coming later this year to the range. Dacia has facelifted the models front and back, given them a make-over inside and generally raised the trim level quality and included a higher quality sound system for buyers to enjoy.
We opted to briefly test the best selling Sandero Stepway and could immediately see its appeal to first-time new car buyers.
Even with the metallic paint and emergency spare wheel it worked out under £9,400 and it comes with a 3yr or 60,000 miles warranty.
The powertrain is proven and reliable even if modest in output but it had an easy going performance and composure on main roads.
On winding roads demanding frequent gearchanges the noise level went up but the long travel clutch and short-throw five-speed lever were comfortable, as was the steering.
You could hear the suspension working away and the ride was slightly firm but rarely shook us about and the seats were comfortable.
Instruments were a little basic and small, a lot of plastic was visible and oddments room was only reasonable.
For the money it offers new car reassurance when you might be tempted into a second hand car and a lot of buyers want that, which explains why Dacia has been successful.
|Dacia Sandero Stepway Ambiance TCe90 hatchback||Price: £9,390 inc met paint & emergency wheel|
|Insurance Group: 8E||Mechanical: Three cyl 900cc 90hp turbo-petrol, 5sp|
|Max Speed: 104mph||0-62mph: 11.1 sec|
|Fuel consumption: 36 mpg estimated||C02 emissions: 115gkm|
|Bik rating: 20%||Warranty: 3 yrs/ 60,000 miles|
|Bootspace: 320 to 1200 litres||Sizes: L 4.09m, W 1.74m, H 1.62m, kerb 1023kg|
For: Economical to buy and run, good bootspace, comfortable seats, clear visibility, light controls
Against: Lots of plain plastic inside, constant road noise and busy engine note when pressed, dated instruments