‘Essential but cool’. Normally marketing soundbites leave a taste like a hair sandwich in the mouth, but that one we like. It’s the phrase that jumped out as we read about the Dacia Manifesto Concept that was revealed today. If anything sums up Dacia’s product philosophy, 'essential but cool' is it. That’s why most people tend to reserve a soft spot for the no-nonsense brand.
What is it, then? Well, it has no designated power source, and could be run with an ICE fuelled by petrol or LPG, as a hybrid or a full-EV. To look at, it’s a sort of cross between a Baja Bug and a Lego kit. It has no doors, no windows and no windscreen and, says the press pack, ‘The driver and passenger are therefore fully immersed in nature.’ It’s a car designed to get people into the hinterland, then, and therefore is a true off-roader. It has four-wheel drive, a lofty ride height, big wheels and a ‘body built to withstand the toughest terrain’. Something owners won’t be too prissy about, then.
It has something of an old Land Rover about it, too. It is waterproof, so once you’ve climbed a mountain and caked the car in mud, you're free to get the jet washer out and blast off the dirt both inside and out. And the seat covers are removable, which means, presumably, you can shove them in the washing machine, but they also double-up as sleeping bags for a night under the stars.
There’s a modular roof rack, which Dacia has fitted to the Sandero Stepway and Jogger, and will make available on the Duster in due course. This can be arranged in various configurations to allow you to carry many and varied loads. And the Manifesto Concept is also a powerhouse. Not in terms of motive power, but literally: ‘A dedicated and removable battery supplies power through a household outlet, turning into an energy source for any outdoor activities requiring power.’
As a car designed to venture into the natural world, it’s claimed to have a minimal environmental footprint. That begins with its compact and lightweight design (said to be 720kg at most) so it consumes little energy to move about. The primary body panels are made from plastic that contain ‘a significant portion of recycled material.’ That material is called ‘Starkle’, and it’s made from already processed polypropylene, with a flecked effect. It also has airless tyres. The idea is they’re puncture-proof and designed to last the life of the car, meaning less waste. Manifesto also has just one main headlamp. ‘Why use two if one provides all the light you need?’, argues Dacia. And it’s removable, so you can use it as a torch.
Along with the rest of Dacia’s range, there’s no wasteful decorative chrome plating adorning the car. And inside it uses natural materials such as the cork, which covers the dashboard and means you can pin things to it. While the occupants are at one with nature, they can also be at one with their smartphones, too. Dacia’s 'Bring-Your-Own-Device' approach allows those onboard to ‘fully integrate a smartphone into the dashboard and on-board computer.’
Lionel Jaillet, Dacia Product Performance Director, said: “We want to build a range of products that strengthens our brand promise, focusing on the essentials and adapting our vehicles for outdoor activities. Beyond our models, we are also working on innovative features that match our customers’ need and lifestyles even more closely. Manifesto Concept is a “lab” to try out and mock up new ideas. The version you can see today will keep on evolving as we keep on exploring! So don’t miss the next models: they will be ever smarter, ever more tailored to outdoor activities and ever more Dacia!”
Sadly, that means we won't see the Manifesto Concept becoming a reality, but some of the features the quirky little two-seat buggy previews – like airless tyres – may appear on future production models.
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