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Future models - Dacia - Lodgy

Geneva show: No Oz lodgings for Dacia

European cheap: Dacia's new people-mover is clearly designed to score more heavily on price than style.

Cheap new seven-seat Dacia Lodgy SUV not for Australia any time soon

Dacia logo12 Mar 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

RENAULT brand Dacia will remain out of Australia for the time being, despite the appeal of its all-new Lodgy people-mover, which hits the market in Europe from under $A12,300 in base-model guise.

However, Renault chief operating officer Carlos Tavares said the budget Romanian brand has not completely shut Australia out of its long-term plans.

“It could be (a possibility for Australia) so far it is not decided,” Mr Tavares told GoAuto at the Lodgy’s public unveiling at the Geneva show last week.

“Renault, of course, does have a presence in Australia. We are growing, but we are still so very small.”

Renault, which has owned Dacia since 1999, is in the middle of completely overhauling the 46-year old Romanian car-maker’s model range.

In 2010 the company’s first modern SUV – the Duster – struck a chord with budget buyers in economically depressed Europe, while the models that started Dacia’s march out of Romania – the Clio II-based Logan (sedan, wagon, van, pick-up) and Sandero (hatch) small cars – will enter their second generations next year, further boosting the firm’s international appeal.

“Any good opportunity we have to grow our presence in Australia will be studied, and why not?” said Mr Tavares. “But so far nothing has been decided.”

151 center imageUntil now, the lack of right-hand-drive production – except in India under a now-defunct joint-venture with Mahindra – has kept Dacia focussed on continental Europe, but with UK sales beginning in January 2013 it is one less hurdle for Australian distribution.

Sitting on a long 2810mm wheelbase, the front-wheel drive Lodgy will be available in five and seven-seater configurations, powered by a choice of three Renault-sourced four-cylinder engines – a 63kW/134Nm 1.6-litre petrol, an 86kW/190Nm 1.2-litre turbo-petrol and a 1.5-litre dCi turbo-diesel in two states of tune – 67kW/200Nm and 82kW/240Nm – all linked to a manual gearbox only, at least for now.

Built in Morocco, the Lodgy is based on a new Renault low-cost small-car architecture that will also underpin the next-gen small cars.

It will include the option of Bluetooth audio streaming and satellite-navigation bundled into an option package costing about $400 to further increase its appeal to budget-constrained families.

Mr Tavares said that customers in Europe have responded to the brand because it offers larger and roomier vehicles compared to equivalently priced competitors.

Dacia sold 343,233 vehicles last year, which was close to a record for the brand and a long way ahead of the 94,720 sales in 2004 when the first Logan was released.

France was the biggest market for Dacia with 94,278 sales last year, followed by Germany (43,452) and the home market of Romania (30,867).

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