Share this article

Dacia, Renault’s Romanian budget brand, launched its first-ever concept car at Geneva, an innovative leisure vehicle that revives the Duster nameplate.

But unfortunately for the UK, the global economic crisis means we’ll have to wait a little longer for the brand to be launched in Britain. The timing is not right to incur the cost of launching a new brand, Renault believes, so the UK start-up will once again be delayed.

Originally Dacia’s Sandero hatchback was due to be launched in the UK in 2009, but unexpectedly strong sales in markets such as France and Germany meant there was no spare capacity to build RHD models at the Dacia plant at Pitesti, near Bucharest. This meant the launch was delayed to 2010 – but now it’s been pushed back “indefinitely”.

Ironically, there’s now capacity at the Pitesti plant. But Renault boss Carlos Ghosn – famously nicknamed “le cost killer” in the Renault-Nissan alliance – has ordered the plan to be put on ice until the economy picks up.

By then, the Duster might have been translated into the next-generation Dacia range.

Designed largely in Romania by the Renault Design Central Europe studio in Bucharest, it’s a coupe-SUV crossover with three doors – a single door on the driver’s side and two doors, including a rear-hinged ‘suicide’ door, on the passenger side.

The interior is extremely functional – the passenger seat slides below the driver’s seat, allowing a large, 2-metre long load bay capable of accommodating a bicycle or even a small motorbike. A tailgated box structure also slides out of the rear of the car, creating an extra pick-up load bed.

The original Dacia Duster was a compact, utilitarian 4×4, sold in the UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was powered by Renault petrol and diesel engines, but was built by another, now-defunct Romanian automaker called ARO.