Dacia has released details of its new Duster 4x4, but there's still no sign that cars from Renault's Romanian budget brand will make it to the UK any time soon; unofficial indications point to 2011 at the earliest for that.

Dacia's relationship to Renault is similar to that between Skoda and Volkswagen; Dacia draws on Renault's parts and engineering resources but uses them in simpler models assembled at a low-cost production base in Eastern Europe. Unlike the Skoda/Volkswagen link, however, that between Dacia and Renault predates the fall of the Iron Curtain. Dacia's licence-built Renault 12s were a common sight on Eastern European roads in the 1970s, and later, they were even exported to the UK once Renault had finished making that particular model itself.

Modern Dacias haven't so far been offered with right-hand drive, although the Sandero almost made it to these shores, giving rise to a long-lived running joke on Top Gear that has given the Dacia brand publicity that would be worth millions to Renault if the cars were actually sold here.

One particularly distinctive Dacia model is the stretched seven-seat estate version of the Logan saloon, which must be just about the cheapest car sold in Europe on a price-per-passenger basis. That would probably sell in huge numbers if it came to the UK, albeit, perhaps, at the expense of some of Renault's pricier small and medium-sized people carriers.

The Duster itself will go on sale early next year in Dacia's main European markets, Turkey, Algeria and Morocco. Petrol and diesel engines will be available and owners who don't need to take their Dusters off road may find the slightly more economical two-wheel drive version meets their needs adequately.

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