Dacia cars: what is the secret of their success?

Cut-price car brand Dacia was a sales sensation in the UK last year. We headed to Romania to find out the secrets behind its success

Dacia testing and quality control

Our next stop is the company’s engineering and testing HQ. The site is steeped in history, and is a good chance to see how the quality and standards have advanced since Renault took over in 1999.

Located in Titu, an hour-and-a-half from Bucharest, it was once a military airbase with Nicolae Ceausescu often using it to land by helicopter. Now it’s a modern test centre that was only finished in 2010, and has helped Dacia bring its cars up to more modern standards. 

Cars that hold their value best

“We follow the same standards and procedures as Renault worldwide,” Sorin Buse, general manager Renault technical Romania, tells us. “This is the only complete engineering centre in Eastern Europe, and in terms of the Renault group, it is the biggest outside of France.”

The centre is the base for a number of endurance tests, from constant door-opening robots testing joints 24 hours a day, five days a week, to exposure to high and low temperatures and humidity – 22 days of testing equates to three to five years of extreme conditions. Both are relatively new for Dacia and show the brand’s continuing modernisation. The likes of the door opening test has been going for 10 years now, while extreme condition testing is just two years old.

On the road in the Dacia Logan

But as well as the controlled testing, Titu is home to around 20 miles of test track, split across 10 different trails, encompassing the likes of off-roading and cobblestones and everything else a modern car might face. And it’s here, on the standard track, we’re driving the Logan 1. The Logan isn’t sold in the UK – only in MCV estate form – but it’s Romania’s best-seller. This first generation went on sale back in 2004. 

There is some decent equipment on the car – we’ve obviously been given a top-spec model – but the interior looks drab and dated, as if it’s more than 10 years old, with the ageing stereo a real giveaway. Add in the pitching and rolling in the few light corners we cover, and it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the decision not to sell the car in Britain was correct. UK buyers would surely have turned their noses up at it in an instant. 

Compare that to the latest Logan, and things might not seem too different at first glance. But look deeper, and it certainly feels some steps ahead of the first model. There’s still an affordable look to the car, but it has a much higher quality, robust feel. 

The more modern steering wheel, sleeker audio system and updated heater dials ensure it’s a much more European-looking proposition. Even the drive feels more composed as we weave through Bucharest.

Dacia: what is the secret?

What we’ve seen here in Romania explains exactly why Dacia has done so well since its reintroduction into the UK and other markets across the world. It’s entirely comfortable as a brand knowing that it isn’t up against premium offerings like Audi, and those involved know that it’s value for money that counts with this manufacturer. 

But it’s also continually striving to improve and give customers an affordable car that far exceeds their expectations. Something, you could argue, it does better than any other brand.

What do you think of the runaway success Dacia has enjoyed in the UK? Would you consider buying a Dacia? What's the key to their appeal? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below...

Recommended

New seven-seat Dacia Jogger unveiled at the 2021 Munich Motor Show
Dacia Jogger - Munich front
Dacia

New seven-seat Dacia Jogger unveiled at the 2021 Munich Motor Show

The Dacia Jogger seven-seater mixes MPV practicality with SUV character, while hybrid power will be available for the first time ever on a Dacia
6 Sep 2021
Dacia sells 200,000th car in the UK
Dacia 200,000 ales in the UK
Dacia

Dacia sells 200,000th car in the UK

Private buyer demand pushes Dacia over the 200k mark in the UK in just eight years
6 Jul 2021
Bargain Dacia Spring EV could still come to the UK
Dacia Spring
Dacia

Bargain Dacia Spring EV could still come to the UK

Dacia still weighing up a right-hand-drive conversion for is ultra low cost electric car
24 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021

Most Popular

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'
Opinion cheap cars
Opinion

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'

Our appetite for small, cheap cars is as strong as ever - although Mike Rutherford warns they may no longer be profitable
12 Sep 2021
E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?
Petrol pump
News

E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?

E10 petrol is up to 10 per cent ethanol and is available at UK fuel stations now as part of the bid to cut CO2 emissions
1 Sep 2021
What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven
Skoda vRS range
Skoda

What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven

To mark 20 years of Skoda’s vRS badge, we rounded up some of the performance cars from the past two decades that have worn the subtle green badge
17 Sep 2021