Dacia Manifesto concept sets out budget brand’s vision of rugged, sustianable and affordable future

Wild off-road concept hints at focus on sustainability and smart solutions as Dacia plans expansion into new markets

Dacia has revealed the Manifesto concept car which it says is a “living lab” that hints at the brand’s future direction.

The budget marque says that while the striking off-road buggy machine isn’t a preview of a specific new model it does highlight innovations that will find their way into upcoming models as well as reaffirming the brand’s ambition to offer “essential, cool, robust, affordable and environmentally efficient” cars.

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The Manifesto concept was unveiled at the same time as Dacia declared its intention to expand into new segments, with a continued focus on value and sustainability.

The Manifesto concept is a high-riding four-wheel-drive with a focus on off-roading and connecting users with nature. There are no windows or doors to interrupt that connection and instead of a regular tailgate it has a rugged flat work surface incorporating a full-width lighting array.

Among its wilder concept features are cartoonish airless tyres, a hose-down interior and seat covers that can be whipped off and turned into sleeping bags. There’s also a removable rear-mounted battery that can be used as a power source and single headlight that can be removed and used as a torch - like Skoda’s removable boot light on steroids.

Slightly more plausible features include an adaptable roof rack that appears to be a more advanced evolution of the smart modular roof rails already featured in the Jogger and a simple smartphone mount in place of a dedicated touchscreen. The YouClip system for attaching and storing a range of accessories will also be adapted for use in future models.

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Another feature of the Manifesto that is likely to find its way into regular road cars is its use of sustainable materials. Inside, natural materials such as cork are used for the dashboard, and less sustainable features such as chrome trim has been removed - just like its current range.  The greener materials extend to the car’s body panels which are made from a new recycled plastic dubbed Starkle and which Dacia says will be used for visible external components in future models.

Dacia says it plans to be a leader in the use of recycled materials. Around 12% of the plastic in the current Duster is from recycled sources and in the next-generation that will increase to 20%.

The lightweight nature of the Manifesto also indicates Dacia’s declared aim to focus on fuel efficiency through materials and by focusing on the essentials while avoiding “superfluous technology or merely cosmetic features” that add weight for no benefit.

According to Dacia, what counts as essential is changing: “Air conditioning was not seen as an essential 18 years ago, but it is today. Conversely, Dacia questions the point of fitting two or three screens in a car when there is a swift and smart way to pair your smartphone with the vehicle.”

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That’s reflected in the Manifesto’s simple smartphone dock, which is similar to the system already found in lower-spec Dacias.

Commenting on Manifesto, David Durand, Dacia’s design director said: “At Dacia, we like to keep it real. As we were developing and exploring new ideas, we felt we needed to push them past 3D simulations and see what they look like in real life.

“As well as being a designer object, Manifesto Concept encapsulates our vision and combines a wide range of innovation – some involve extreme implementation, but they are still affordable for customers. We will be using a few of them on future Dacia models.”

As part of the Renault group’s wider plans, Dacia is set to expand from its current position in the compact B-segment into the larger family focused C-segment but company bosses insist it will continue to cater to “no-nonsense, savvy customers who are keen on freedom and simple pleasures, shunning overconsumption.”

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Dacia also plans to expand on its reputation for rugged, capable vehicles, continuing to offer all-wheel-drive systems on models such as the Duster. It is also planning a range of accessories for outdoor activities, including a kit to convert the rear of Jogger into a double bed in minutes and a tent that can be hooked up to the car for added space.

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’ needs and lifestyles even more closely. Manifesto Concept is a “lab” to try out and mock up new ideas.”

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