Readers of TTAC’s Facebook account know that our luxury-and-performance-car-scribe Alex Dykes currently has his hands on the newest Mercedes CLS63 AMG. One of Mr. Dykes’ current concerns is the fact that the $140,000 Mercedes has no “next track” button on the steering wheel. He has a real point there: that’s one of just six buttons that my 2009 Town Car does have on its steering wheel. Of course, the first thing I did when I took delivery of the Town Car was to swap the head unit for a all-in-one Pioneer thingy. So now that button doesn’t work.
But away from the world of six-digit Benzos and the most delightful cream-color-interior Panthers, there’s a little thing called the Real World. No, not the MTV show! The other Real World! And Hooniverse has its fingers on the pulse.
This week, Chris Haining reviewed the Dacia Duster 1.6 Access 4×2. This vehicle, as far as I can tell, is a sort of super-cheap Honda CR-V, retailing for the rough equivalent of $11,000 and offering more space than the aforementioned CR-V and more equipment that the Plymouth Horizon America. It has a high ground clearance for the unimproved roads you’re sure to encounter and there’s very little to go wrong:
It is a utility vehicle. It has acres of space in the cabin and the boot, the interior is easily cleaned- in fact I’d probably get rid of the carpets and fit rubber mats to facilitate interior detailing via jet-wash. It’s a car that makes itself useful in so many ways. Though it doesn’t have four wheel drive, it does have high ground clearance and good visibility for gentle off-road excursions. And, crucially, it’s cheap. Ridiculously cheap, in fact, at £8,995 on the road for the car you see before you.
It’s assembled in Mioveni, Romania, just a short trip through Hungary away from the place where they would prefer not to be bothered with the assembly of the super-prestigious Bentley “Catamite GT” SUV. It seems difficult to believe that in an era where we permit China to make lead-reinforced toys for our children to chew at their leisure that such a thing could not be snuck through the EPA/DOT foolishness somehow.
Such a vehicle might not impress anyone, but it might be just the ticket for the casualties-of-the-disappearing-middle-class, God-and-guns working families who are currently bearing their twin duties of producing the next generation of American-imperialism cannon fodder and greeting their neighbors at Wal-Mart with all the dignity and aplomb they can muster. This thing has to be a better bet than a six-year-old Odyssey with a smoking transmission, right?
Alternately, it could be marketed as the next Cross Lander. Romanian luxury for the discerning few who wear Hublot Big Bangs and Tommy Hilfiger clothing. I can see the TV commercial now:
Our scene starts in the California wine country. An attractive couple in tight focus is driving an SUV. SHE is behind the wheel, smiling through recently Invisaligned teeth. HE is in the passenger seat, gazing at her with beatific beta bliss and holding his IPhone lovingly in both hands. As the DACIA DUSTER PRESTIGE sweeps down the road, with the most recently-built Napa mansions visible in the distance…
VOICEOVER: The Dacia Duster SUV. If your parents didn’t get out of high school, you’ll easily confuse this with a 1970 Range Rover.
Well, it could work. In the meantime, check out the ‘Verse for the latest on this Romanian rat-trap, okay?