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 2022 Dacia Bigster to move budget brand into large SUV market
Dacia Bigster - front (watermarked)
Dacia

New 2022 Dacia Bigster to move budget brand into large SUV market

The Dacia Bigster SUV will arrive with value in mind, but hybrid tech will also appear. Our exclusive images preview how it could look
14 May 2021
New seven-seat Dacia SUV spied for the first time
Dacia SUV
Dacia

New seven-seat Dacia SUV spied for the first time

Dacia will soon launch a new seven-seat SUV to replace the Lodgy, which could borrow the Renault Clio’s hybrid powertrain
4 May 2021
Renault will limit top speed of future models to 112mph
Renault Captur
Renault

Renault will limit top speed of future models to 112mph

The limiter will be fitted to all future Renault and Dacia vehicles, forming part of the company’s drive to prevent road accidents
27 Apr 2021
Restructured Renault, Dacia and Alpine brands to launch into new segments 
Renault reveal
News

Restructured Renault, Dacia and Alpine brands to launch into new segments 

Electric revolution at Renault, plus larger Dacia models confirmed, Alpine sub-branding for hot Renaults and electric Alpines too
14 Jan 2021

Most Popular

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp
Tesla Model S facelift - front
Tesla Model S

New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp

Range-topping version of the Tesla Model S officially unveiled, with a sprint time of 0-60mph in less than two seconds
10 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle
Volkswagen T7 Multivan - front
Volkswagen Caravelle

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle

The Volkswagen T7 Multivan MPV switches to the MQB platform and adds plug-in hybrid technology
10 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Car group tests

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300

The capable Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport goes up against its new Cupra Leon 300 sibling in this hot hatch battle
12 Jun 2021
New 2021 Lexus NX arrives with firm’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain
Lexus NX - front action
Lexus NX SUV

New 2021 Lexus NX arrives with firm’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain

The new Lexus NX 350h features a standard hybrid set-up, while the NX 450h+ gets a plug-in hybrid powertrain capable of 40 miles of pure electric powe…
12 Jun 2021
LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini
LEC MINI Electric
MINI

LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini

The conversion sees the Mini’s A-Series engine replaced with a dinky electric motor and a 20kWh battery for a range of 70 miles in the city
10 Jun 2021
Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features
Audi S5
Audi

Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features

Almost every car in Audi’s line-up has received a tweak, with major updates including Amazon Alexa integration and a Sonos stereo
11 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
'GM taking over Honda would be a disaster'
Honda opinion
Opinion

'GM taking over Honda would be a disaster'

Mike Rutherford is worried about Honda's future, despite its recent motorsport success
6 Jun 2021
Mustang Mach-E: your next company car?
A red Ford Mustang Mach-E parked
Advertisement Feature

Mustang Mach-E: your next company car?

Thinking of getting a new company car? Here’s why you should consider putting the Mustang Mach-E on your shortlist
11 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen T-Cross Black Edition 2021 review
Volkswagen T-Cross Black Edition - front
Volkswagen T-Cross

New Volkswagen T-Cross Black Edition 2021 review

The small Volkswagen T-Cross SUV turns on the style in new Black Edition trim
11 Jun 2021