‘Premium brands are being caught by less well established rivals’

As the new Dacia Duster arrives, the lines between premium and value brands are becoming blurred, writes John McIlroy

Does premium still mean premium? And even if it does, does anyone really still care? This is one of those issues of Auto Express that could really force us all to think about it.

First up, there’s our early drive of the all-new Ford Focus – a car that looks set to bring real quality touches to the cabin, while still offering mainstream pricing and, crucially, a sweet chassis that’ll keep keen drivers entertained.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The cheapest cars on sale in 2018

Then there’s our three-car test, which pitches established premium names Jaguar and Alfa Romeo against… Kia. And while I’m not about to issue spoilers, it’s worth saying here and now that the Korean brand’s Stinger does not disgrace itself in several key areas against the XE and Giulia (indeed, it may well have them licked on interior quality).

Last, but by no means least, there’s the updated version of Dacia’s remarkable Duster. Renault’s no-nonsense brand has tweaked the important bits of its family SUV, resulting in an even more appealing proposition for those who value do-it-all ability and features over image. And that’s before you start looking at the monthly deals, which could deliver an entirely respectable spec of Duster for a modest deposit and supermini-style payments.

Indeed, drive around the glamorous Côte d’Azur in southern France and you’ll see plenty of Dusters, being driven by well-heeled families who love the car’s durability and its capacity to soak up motorways or, in the case of the four-wheel-drive editions, drive up into the Alps to go skiing. It’s a car that shows how the lines can become blurred, almost to the point where the Duster is classless altogether. And when that happens, does it really matter if it has a premium badge or not?

Read our review of the all-new Dacia Duster




‘It’s Car Care Week, so head outside and show your motor a little love’

If you can’t drive your car, editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks you should wash it instead. When you're done, send us a pic and we’ll print the best
1 Apr 2020

'The temporary shutdown of car factories could benefit manufacturers and customers'

With car factories around the world closing temporarily, it may give manufacturers the chance to clear out the current backlog of unsold new cars, say…
28 Mar 2020

‘JLR’s very British approach: keep calm and carry on’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler praises Jaguar Land Rover on both its ability to handle a crisis
26 Mar 2020

'Car exhibitions are going through the most dramatic period of change in a generation'

With the changing car market, the government's petrol & diesel ban plus the unprecedented Coronavirus, the car exhibition industry is going through a …
22 Mar 2020

Most Popular


New SEAT Leon 2020 review

The all-new SEAT Leon hatchback impresses with its blend of sporty handling and cutting-edge technology
3 Apr 2020
Hyundai i20

New 2021 Hyundai i20 N to rival Ford Fiesta ST with 200bhp

New Hyundai i20 N to join i30 N in brand’s hot hatch line-up and our exclusive images preview how it could look
2 Apr 2020
Hyundai Kona electric front
Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric to get increased range from July

UK-delivered Hyundai Kona Electrics will be outfitted with a handful of mechanical revisions, boosting the SUV’s maximum range to 300 miles
18 Mar 2020