By Marc Lachapelle
The odds of seeing the names Dacia and Duster used together rival those of winning the 6/49 jackpot with a single ticket. Dacia is a Romanian carmaker that sold crudely-built replicas of old Renault models in Canada in the 80s and Duster is the name of a hallowed family of muscle cars sold under Chrysler’s defunct Plymouth brand in the 70s. Things have changed drastically at Dacia since Renault bought the company in 1999 and sales have almost tripled since the launch of the solid, no-frills Logan model in 2004, growing from 96,300 units sold in twelve countries to 257,000 units available in almost fifty last year.
The striking Duster, Dacia’s first crossover concept, was created jointly by Renault’s design studios in Romania and France. It blends DNA from a sport coupe and what Europeans call a MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle). At 4.25 metres, it is notably shorter than a Nissan Rogue (4.64 m) but has short front and rear overhangs and rides on a much longer 2.80-metre wheelbase. This yields better space in a modular cabin where you can slide the front passenger seat under the driver’s to carry objects such as a mountain bike.
The Duster has an excellent 0.30 aerodynamic drag coefficient, which translates into a fuel rating of 5.3 litres per 100km from the 1.5-litre, 105-hp direct injection turbodiesel, mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. It is also said to go from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.6 seconds. Don’t hold your breath for it to come to Canada, alas.