Milestone as Dacia makes 10 millionth vehicle

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Dacia celebrates 10 million vehicles

Dacia is celebrating the production of its 10 millionth vehicle since the value-for-money brand was born in 1968.

The Dacia Duster Extreme SE in Urban Grey was produced at the company’s plant in Romania.

Dacia celebrates 10 millionth vehicle

Dacia assembled its first vehicle, the Dacia 1100, in August 1968. The following year, the popular Dacia 1300 model was introduced. It inspired a whole family of derivatives such as the saloon, station wagon, sports coupe and LCV and remained in production for 35 years.

A new chapter in Dacia’s history was opened following its acquisition by Renault Group in 1999.

With the launch of Logan in 2004, Dacia became a global carmaker and the pace of sales accelerated. In 2005, Dacia opened a production line outside Romania, at the Somaca plant in Casablanca, Morocco.

Dacia launched in the UK in January 2013 and enjoyed the most successful start ever for a new car brand in the UK. So far, more than 220,000 Dacia vehicles have been sold. In all, Dacia vehicles are sold in 44 countries.

Within the 10 million vehicles produced, there have been:

  • 2.6 million Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway, the best-selling vehicle to private customers in Europe since 2017
  • 2.1 million Dacia Duster, the best-selling SUV to private customers in Europe since 2018
  • 1.95 million Dacia Logan and Logan MCV
  • 2.3 million Dacia 1300 (and variants)

“We are very proud to have passed the symbolic milestone of 10 million vehicles produced,” said Denis Le Vot, CEO of Dacia.

“This result rewards a pragmatic vision of the automobile, focused on what is essential to our customers.

“Building on its experience, Dacia will continue to grow and offer attractive vehicles that are adapted to our customers’ lifestyles.”

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Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid is an intriguing car. Its sleek ‘coupe SUV’ styling gives it serious kerb appeal, there’s plenty of room for all the family and it’s a full hybrid, so there’s no need to plug it in.

Add Renault’s solid five-year warranty, plus all the latest safety kit it comes with, and this Nissan Qashqai-sized crossover ticks a lot of boxes on paper.

Slotting between the Captur and Kadjar in the Renault range, the Arkana is available with two engine options – both fitted with automatic gearboxes.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The TCe 140 model consists of a 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol engine, offering 138bhp and a combined fuel consumption figure of 48.7mpg. It’s the quickest of the two Arkanas, reaching 62mph from rest in less than 9.8 seconds.

The car we tested, the E-Tech Hybrid, combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two electric motors, offering a total of 143bhp. Fitted with a small 1.2kWh battery, the system prioritises all-electric running unless full power is required and Renault claims it can return up to 58.9mpg with a 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds, while CO2 emissions are a low 109g/km.

First impressions are good. The Arkana stands out from the crowd and looks particularly good in Zanzibar Blue. There’s a real feeling of space inside and the attractive dashboard layout is similar to the Captur, on which the Arkana is based.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Soft-touch surfaces are welcome and overall build quality is impressive inside, while up front it’s more solid and functional than flash. There’s a digital instrument display behind the steering wheel and a portrait-shaped 9.3-inch infotainment touchscreen in the centre console (7.0-inch in the entry-level model).

The driving position is relatively high (the car itself is taller than you might think) and there’s ample leg and headroom for adults to travel comfortably in the rear. There’s a useful 480 litres to boot space (slightly down on the mild hybrid model which has no rear battery), expanding to 1,263 litres with the rear seats down.

Visibility is generally good. Our only gripe was that our test car was not fitted with a rear wiper, which is especially annoying on motorways in the wet.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

You’re likely to start off in EV mode and the petrol engine will only kick in if you boot it. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that the Arkana’s six-speed F1-derived clutchless auto transmission, which is supposed to be more efficient and smoother than a conventional automatic, is the car’s weak point.

The gearbox is sluggish and unpredictable at times, meaning that the engine’s revs rise alarmingly at the slightest encouragement. This often-noisy driving experience is a shame because the Arkana package as a whole has a lot right with it.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

There are three driving modes (Eco, Sport and MySense). The latter is effectively the ‘normal’ mode, and the setting you’re likely to leave the car in.

There’s also a button on the dashboard for manually switching to electric mode yourself, as well as a ‘B’ mode on the gear selector for extra regenerative braking (the system that adds charge to the battery by harvesting energy otherwise wasted during braking and coasting).

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The transition from electric power to engine propulsion, and vice versa, is reasonably smooth – and engine noise aside – it’s no slouch. Naturally it’s hushed in EV mode, but it’s also fairly refined on a motorway cruise.

The Arkana’s set-up is on the firm side, so it handles surprisingly well with controlled body lean, there’s decent grip and it generally feels composed.

We tested the mid-range S Edition, though more spirited drivers might want to consider the top-of-the-range RS Line model which features sporty design cues. That said, we doubt that it is any more dynamic on the road, even in Sport mode.

We couldn’t get close to Renault’s claimed economy figures, but depending on your route and driving style, anywhere between 40-50mpg is realistic.

Verdict: It would be easy to dismiss the new Renault Arkana as a case of style over substance. Yes, it’s an eye-catching coupe SUV and, yes, there are some issues with the gearbox, but overall, it’s a comfortable, practical, quality package backed up by a decent five-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Renault UK

Why Dacia owners have reasons to be cheerful

Dacia Sandero Stepway and Dacia Sandero

Dacia models have been praised for their value, comfort and reliability in a major new satisfaction study.

Renault’s Romanian budget brand scored exceptionally well in four satisfaction indexes conducted by readers of consumer motoring website Honest John.

Manufacturers and vehicles were assessed on reliability, build quality, fuel economy, repair costs and performance. Ride comfort, handling, ease of driving, practicality and technology were also considered, as well as safety.

Based on feedback from more than 5,000 owners, the low cost manufacturer was named Most Satisfying Car Brand in the Satisfaction Index 2021, pipping Lexus and Hyundai.

Most Satisfying Car Brand 

Rank Manufacturer Satisfaction Index Rating (%)
1 Dacia 91.6
2 Lexus 90.6
3 Hyundai 89.7
4 Kia 89.6
5 MG 89.4
6 Skoda 89.1
7 Subaru 89.0
8 Toyota 88.8
9 Porsche 88.7
10 Volkswagen 88.4

Dacia, which makes the popular Duster SUV, was just beaten by Japanese premium brand Lexus in the Most Reliable Car Manufacturer index.

Most Reliable Car Manufacturer

Rank Manufacturer Satisfaction out of 10
1 Lexus 9.81
2 Dacia 9.76
3 Mitsubishi 9.64
4 Toyota 9.63
5 Suzuki 9.59
6 Kia 9.54
7 Honda 9.51
8 Subaru 9.50
9 MG 9.48
10 Hyundai 9.48

Meanwhile, while the Dacia Sandero – still the UK’s cheapest new car – finished four in the Most Satisfying Car index, behind the Hyundai Ioniq, Volkswagen T-Roc and Mazda CX-5.

Most Satisfying Car

Rank Manufacturer and Model Satisfaction Index Rating (%)
1 Hyundai Ioniq (2016 – ) 95.7
2 Volkswagen T-Roc (2018 – ) 93.7
3 Mazda CX-5 (2017- ) 93.0
4 Dacia Sandero (2013 – 2021 ) 92.6
5 Skoda Kodiaq (2016 – ) 92.5
6 Honda CR-V (2018 – ) 92.5
7 Skoda Superb Estate (2014 – ) 92.2
8 Volkswagen Tiguan (2016 – ) 92.2
9 BMW 3 Series Touring (2012 – 2019) 91.8
10 Toyota Corolla (2019 – ) 91.6

The Sandero also gained a podium place in the Most Reliable Car category, again beaten by the Hyundai Ioniq and Volkswagen T-Roc.

Most Reliable Car

Rank Manufacturer and Model Satisfaction out of 10
1 Hyundai Ioniq (2016 – ) 9.93
2 Volkswagen T-Roc (2018 – ) 9.90
3 Dacia Sandero (2013 – 2021 ) 9.90
4 SEAT Leon (2013 – 2020 ) 9.86
5 Mazda CX-5 (2017- ) 9.83
6 Volkswagen Tiguan (2016 – ) 9.83
7 Honda Jazz (2014 – 2020 ) 9.82
8 Lexus NX (2014 – ) 9.82
9 Toyota Yaris (2011 – 2020) 9.79
10 Kia Sportage (2016 – ) 9.77

“What a tremendous recognition for Dacia that manufacturing a low cost car doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice any of the things that make your customers happy,” said Dan Powell, Senior Editor of HonestJohn.co.uk.

“Cheap does mean cheerful, with readers praising Dacia models for their value, comfort and reliability. The Romanian manufacturer is part of the Renault family and that quality comes through in its high scores for satisfaction and reliability.

“This is a massive piece of research, a real barometer of what the nation thinks of its cars, with more than 5,000 HonestJohn.co.uk readers taking part.

“It is also a clear indicator of the rise and rise of electric and hybrid vehicles that the Hyundai Ioniq was crowned the most satisfying car for the second year in a row.”

Renault’s drive for clean school air

Gareth Herincx

1 day ago
Auto News

More than half of drivers would be willing to take a different route on their regular commute, if it meant avoiding and reducing congestion outside schools, claims new data.

This congestion, which leads to vehicles sitting with their engines running (also known as idling), is a key contributor to poor air quality – and there are more than 8,500 schools, nurseries and colleges in England, Scotland and Wales located in areas with dangerously high levels of pollution.

The findings, which form the latest part of Renault’s ongoing “Be Mindful, Don’t Idle” campaign, also revealed that a third of motorists (37%) said they know of a different route which doesn’t involve driving by a school, while 39% said the reason for not driving a different way to avoid a school was because they do a set route.

Despite the improvement in air quality that could be achieved through such a detour, 62% of drivers who had an alternate route to avoid a school said they don’t take it as it adds more time to their journey.

“Be Mindful, Don’t Idle” 

An idling engine contributes the equivalent of 150 party balloons-worth of emissions unnecessarily into the atmosphere every minute.

Renault found idling during the school drop-off and pick-up is more common in urban areas – with 50.1% admitting to doing it – compared to 12% in rural locations. More than 28% of people of those who admitted to idling said they leave their engines running for 6-10 minutes.

Renault's drive for clean school air

Renault is a pioneer of zero-emission all-electric vehicles and is now Europe’s number one manufacturer for electric cars and vans.

In total, it sold more than 115,000 EVs across the continent in 2020, with the Zoe E-Tech 100% electric becoming the best-selling electric car (sales of more than 100,000).

It has broadened its electrified offering further to include the Renault Captur and Mégane Sport Tourer E-Tech plug-in hybrids as well as the Clio, Captur and All-New Arkana E-Tech hybrid.

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Dacia Sandero review

Dacia Sandero review

Brace yourselves badge snobs, you’re in for a shock. You see, we’ve just driven the all-new second-generation Dacia Sandero and it’s something of a revelation.

Priced from just £7,995, the Sandero is still the UK’s most affordable new car, yet the latest version sports fresh new looks, a jump in quality, more tech and it drives surprisingly well.

What’s more, it offers supermini space for significantly less than the cheapest city car on the market, plus low depreciation.

Dacia Sandero review

Based on the same platform as the impressive Renault Clio (the French car giant has owned Romania’s Dacia brand since 1999), it’s no surprise that the Sandero is a much-improved car.

The shape may be familiar, but it’s much sharper than the outgoing model with horizontal Y-shaped daytime running lights that flow into the chrome bars of Dacia’s corporate grille, a moulded bonnet and new rear lights.

It’s both longer and wider than its predecessor, which has boosted space inside the cabin and in the boot. There’s now 328 litres of luggage space (1,108 litres with the back seats folded) and there’s plenty of room in the rear for adult passengers.

Dacia Sandero Stepway and Dacia Sandero

As before, you can choose between the standard Sandero or the Sandero Stepway which has a more rugged appearance, a raised ride height and clever roof rails which cleverly convert into a roof rack to carry loads up to 80kg.

The Sandero is better equipped too. Entry-level Access models come with LED headlights, front electric windows and a phone docking station. Mid-range Essential gains air-conditioning, cruise control and remote central locking, while the range-topping Comfort gets electric rear windows and an 8.0-inch central infotainment touchscreen.

The cabin generally is more appealing than before, but it’s still fairly basic with hard plastic surfaces. That said, the seats are comfortable, the driving position is good (avoid Access trim which has no height-adjustable driver’s seat), while visibility is average for its class.

Dacia Sandero review

Powered by a range of three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engines of varying outputs (64bhp and 80bhp), plus a 99bhp Bi-Fuel option which can run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as well as regular unleaded and is capable of more than 800 miles of range when both tanks are full.

We tried the Bi-Fuel Sandero in top-grade Comfort specification, which is capable of up to 52.3 mpg (petrol) or 39.8mpg (using LPG which is around half the price of unleaded).

Emissions are 123g/km for the petrol engine and 109g/km when operating on gas. With a 0-62mph time of 11.6 seconds, it’s no hot hatch, but quite adequate for everyday driving. It’s also smooth and refined for its size.

Dacia Sandero review

It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox (the base level 64bhp engine only gets a five-speeder), which works well. The ride isn’t the most sophisticated, but it’s perfectly comfortable, while the handling is composed, if on the soft side.

We also tested the Sandero Stepway in top-of-the-range Prestige trim, which came with an 89bhp petrol engine and six-speed CVT automatic gearbox.

For us, the bigger-selling Stepway variant doesn’t just win on looks, but it also offers a more engaging drive. The automatic gearbox is just the job, especially for easy city driving, and it offers fuel economy of up to 45.6mpg with CO2 emissions as low as 139g/km.

Dacia Sandero review

So, the reality is that despite its headline-grabbing entry-level price point, there are lots of reasons to avoid the smaller engines and lower specs, meaning your end purchase is likely to cost between £10-15,000.

Still, even in that price bracket, the Sandero siblings easily undercut other (base-level) superminis.

Dacia Sandero review

The only fly in the ointment is when it comes to safety. Euro NCAP awarded the Sandero a disappointing two stars out of five.

Among the criticisms was that the car’s radar-only Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system reacts to other vehicles, but lacks the capability to prevent crashes with pedestrians or cyclists.

Euro NCAP also criticised the Sandero for not being available with active lane-keeping assistance.

This safety rating shouldn’t be a deal-breaker though because the tests were carried out after the more stringent safety regime was introduced in 2020. A year or two ago, the Sandero would have been a high-flier. Dacia also deserves praise because AEB is standard across the range.

Verdict: Overall, the Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway represent fantastic value for money – compelling, no-nonsense propositions, offering practicality, comfort, low running costs – and now some much-needed kerb appeal.

Dacia UK

Dacia Sandero review