Renault says it seriously considered importing the rugged Dacia Duster SUV to Australia a number of times before deciding it couldn’t make the business case work.
But don’t rule out seeing the next-generation version coming to local shores, with the company’s Australia arm saying it would be “silly not to” revisit the case down the track.
The back-to-basics ethos of the Duster — the hero car of Renault’s Romanian sub-brand Dacia, also sold with Renault badges in some markets — has been a smash hit in many developing countries, but also in mature and wealthy parts of Europe.
By using ‘proven’ (amortised and older) Renault components and sporting rugged styling, the Duster has lured many with its low price point and promise of reliability through simplicity, while riding the global SUV boom.
Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar told CarAdvice this week how close the company came to bringing the cut-priced crossover here at one point, both of its own volition and following talks with headquarters in Paris.
“We’ve looked at it seriously about three times,” he said, “of our own accord and also through encouragement from head office.
“Some may say it’s a brand for emerging markets, but it’s also a brand that has been immensely successful in mature markets such as the UK, Switzerland and France.
“I think particularly during the post-GFC period in Europe where lots of austerity measures, self-imposed social austerity, was happening, people were gravitating.
“Australia doesn't seem to be going through that kind of phase, therefore we haven't seen the same opportunity, not now.
“[But] never say never, because at the right point in time they may have the right product… I think we’d be silly not to always keep it on the horizon and radar, to look at the opportunities. But as you know, it’s an incredibly cluttered market.”
It's not the first time Hocevar has spoken favourably about Dacia for Australia, as you can read here.
In the UK, the Dacia Duster sells £9495 (about $A16,500), about $8500 less than a Renault Captur, which sells in Australia from the low $20,000 mark. You can make a rough guess at how cheap the Duster could have been here...
In the UK, the Duster comes available with selectable 4x4 or 4x2 configurations, with either 1.6-litre normally aspirated or 1.2 turbo-petrol engines, or a 1.5-litre dCi diesel, with either five- or six-speed manual gearboxes, 210mm of clearance, 350mm of wading depth capability, coil- or independent rear suspension (depending on spec) and 1500kg towing.
It also got a three-star Euro NCAP rating in 2011, something the company would clearly need to address with the next generation were it to have any chance in Australia.
On another note, a revised version of the Dacia Oroch utility must hold some interest for some local buyers... food for thought.
Would you consider a Dacia Duster if looking for something back to basics? Tell us below.
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