Following on from Sniff Petrol’s review of the Dacia Sandero a few days ago, I locked on to Richard Hammond’s reviews of both the Sandero and the Dacia Duster. The guy behind Sniff Petrol, Richard Porter, is a writer for Top Gear and I’m pleased to say that the charms of the Dacia duo rubbed off on his front-of-camera colleague, too.
Neither car is available in Australia and I haven’t heard of any plans to bring Dacia here, either. But I have a feeling that I’d be charmed by one, too. I’m not sure I would ever buy one, but just from reading the reviews above, I feel like I get it when it comes to these vehicles.
I bought two cars last year – an Alfa Romeo GTV6 and a Subaru Brumby. The Alfa is for sale right now and there’s a good chance the Subaru will be on the market in a few months. I have to say, however, that I’ve really, really enjoyed my time in the Brumby and that I see the Dacia models as a modern day equivalent: cars built simply with a specific purpose in mind.
The Subaru Brumby, or Brat as it was known in some markets, is a no-nonsense small ute with a reputation for being able to get in and out of places other small utes would fear to tread. It was (and remains) rock-solid reliable, had no creature comforts as standard aside from a heater and a radio and was (under)powered by a small 1800cc boxer engine.
It’s the little-car-car-that-could.
Whilst my Alfa’s basically been a garage queen the whole time I’ve owned it, the Brumby has been my workhorse. It’s not fast. It doesn’t handle great. It’s certainly not an image-builder. But it does absolutely everything I ask of it and it never complains. It’s the honesty of the car that endears it to you.
I think the Dacia siblings would be much the same. On the base model Sandero, you can have any color you want as long as it’s white…. and that comes with un-painted bumpers. There’s no radio. No aircon. Just a reasonable amount of room, good modern safety kit and an engine. It’s what the Tata Nano was supposed to be in India only the higher Euro-centric price means you get more car as well as getting a car that you can count on, and one you can actually use.
The Duster has the same simple approach but stump up an extra 2K for the 4WD model and you’ve got a modern day Brumby with a roof and a go-anywhere drivetrain. It’s basic nature and price means that you’re not going to have a heart attack if and when the car actually gets used for its intended purpose.
It’s very refreshing to see a manufacturer placing their pride on their simplicity and value. At a time when manufacturers are busy crafting contrived corporate images based on nothing more than a Don Draper wannabe pitch, Dacia’s basic “here’s a car” approach is more comforting than pants.
And if the Duster and Sandero prove to be reliable, I think they’re a good chance to go down in history with the likes of older VW’s and Subarus – cars that aren’t glamorous but compel you to love them because of their honesty. Cars that are built for a purpose and conduct themselves honestly and against the odds deserve our kudos.
Some people won’t understand that. But those that do will love them.
From the photo below, it looks like the Duster Cult is well underway…..