New Da­cia range packs in the value

South Wales Echo - - MOTORS -

BRI­TAIN’S cheap­est new car range is be­com­ing even bet­ter value for money as Da­cia goes about re­vamp­ing its en­tire line up.

A new en­gine, an au­to­matic gear­box and smarter trim are among changes com­ing on stream at the Re­naultowned bud­get brand.

Start­ing prices for the four mod­els in the Da­cia UK sta­ble are un­al­tered keep­ing the San­dero hatch­back as the cheap­est new car on any lot and priced from £5,995.

In fact none of the Da­cia mod­els cur­rently on sale in Bri­tain has a start­ing price over £10,000 and the line up fea­tures the hugely ac­com­mo­dat­ing Lo­gan es­tate, the San­dero Step­way cross­over and the Duster SUV.

It’s a for­mula that has won the Ro­ma­nian-based car com­pany plenty of fans and since it ar­rived in Bri­tain in 2013 it has notched up al­most 100,000 sales at a rate that con­tin­ues to grow.

We Brits love a bar­gain and on the new car scene they don’t come much bet­ter than this.

There is noth­ing shabby about any Da­cia and while the en­try level San­dero may still not come with a ra­dio, spend another £1,000 and you get not only that but also air con­di­tion­ing, elec­tric front win­dows and Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity.

Even the range top­ping San­dero Lau­re­ate, com­plete with sat nav, a seven-inch touch­screen and cruise con­trol among its stan­dard fea­tures can be had for less than £9,000.

Op­tions in­clude a re­vers­ing cam­era, leather up­hol­stery and a ‘real’ spare wheel but even those would add an ex­tra £800 to the price.

The high value propo­si­tion is all down to clever use of Re­nault tech­nol­ogy past and present and sees Da­cia ben­e­fit­ing from hav­ing an au­to­mo­tive heavy­weight as a par­ent.

New to the range is a 75bhp 1.0-litre three cylin­der petrol en­gine which now pow­ers the en­try level San­dero and the Lo­gan MCV and they are nicely nippy as well as eco­nom­i­cal.

It’s a devel­op­ment of the Re­nault Twingo en­gine and Da­cia claims a 0 to 60 ac­cel­er­a­tion of around 14 sec­onds (not the quick­est on the block but there’s enough zip to deal with traffic) and an of­fi­cial fuel re­turn of 54 to the gal­lon – and that’s ex­actly how it per­formed.

Other tweaks across the range in­clude smarter trim in­side with car­bon-ef­fect pan­els and bright sur­rounds, a soft-touch steer­ing wheel which is nicely com­fort­able and repo­si­tion­ing the front win­dow switches on to the doors and away from the fa­cia.

The same in­te­rior de­sign is used on all mod­els apart from the Duster which has a bit more of a ma­cho feel to go with its SUV sta­tus.

If there is a nig­gle it is mi­nor and that is the lack of a cover on the van­ity mir­rors which can cause a dis­trac­tion when the sun vi­sors are down.

The new SCe en­gine re­places the 1.2-litre unit in the pre­vi­ous mod­els and is joined by a turbo ver­sion de­vel­op­ing 90bhp and a 1.5-litre diesel which in the San­dero and Lo­gan is claimed to be good for 80.7mpg with emis­sions of 90g/km.

In the Lo­gan, which is priced from £6,995 and that has to be a steal for an es­tate with a Volvo-es­que cargo ca­pac­ity of 573 litres, the diesel costs from £10,195 and was good for an av­er­age of 56.5mpg on our run, all helped by an ef­fec­tive stop/start sys­tem and an eco mode.

The turbo petrol en­gine in the San­dero Step­way proved the thirsti­est of the bunch at an av­er­age of 41.5mpg but the real eye opener was the new Duster with its six-speed dual clutch trans­mis­sion.

The semi-au­to­matic box is avail­able only on the front-wheel-drive 1.5-litre 110bhp diesel Dusters and not only is it smooth and ef­fec­tive through the gears it is rated at 62.7mpg – a frac­tion off the man­ual al­ter­na­tive.

We av­er­aged a shade un­der 50 to the gal­lon which in an au­to­matic SUV is very com­mend­able – and at £14,995 the new Duster EDC (that stands for ef­fi­cient dual clutch) is more than £1,000 cheaper than any­thing sim­i­lar.

Other im­prove­ments be­ing in­tro­duced by Da­cia in­clude a smart new look to the nose of the cars, LED day­time run­ning lights and a ‘stacked rec­tan­gle’ light sig­na­ture for the tail lamps.

On the cos­metic front they have the de­sired ef­fect and push the cars’ ap­pear­ance up­mar­ket.

All per­form ad­e­quately, ex­hibit no bad habits and for the price are as­ton­ish­ingly well ap­pointed.

Ev­ery one of the mod­els has its own strengths, each is gen­er­ously pro­por­tioned, fam­ily friendly and very ac­com­mo­dat­ing. Pound for pound they are un­beat­able value.

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