Multi utility family size

Dacia is the name but you can pronounce it Renault. The entry level – can’t get any more entry than this – multi-space vehicle of the Franco / Romanian range will appeal to most wallets, offering a low-cost multi-purpose vehicle perfect for families and small self-employed artisans.

Considering the segment, vehicles closely related to vans used for light transport services, Dacia’s Dokker looks rather basic, though no major sacrifices are needed, yet able to offer multi-purpose solutions suitable for every pocket. Great load capacity and plenty of space available, even for five passengers, easily accessible through two sliding doors, are perfectly combined with technologies and solutions taken directly from the French automotive group, including platform and engines, diesel, petrol and even a LPG solution. A philosophy found throughout the entire Dacia range, which has been revolving around Renault as a second-brand for twenty years, and finally free of that former soviet overtone now relegated to a distant past.


Not exactly a “looker”

Let’s be honest, no one will be taken aback by its looks. And seen from a distance all multi-space vehicles look quite the same. Even though, all considered, the vertical double-swing tailgate and the Lodgy-style front design, grille and headlights included, give that family feeling that distinguishes it from its competitors, Fiat Doblò and Citroën Berlingo first and foremost.

With a length of 4.36 metres, 1.75 wide and 1.81 metres high, Dacia Dokker straddles between the crossover and minivan segments, fully embracing a pragmatic concept. Certainly this pragmatism, and huge load capacity, which is one of the main aspects taken into consideration by those who approach this category of vehicles, fully compensates for its lack of appeal. And there is no lack of space here that is sure: with the highest capacity of its segment, the Dokker offers a total cargo of 3m3, with the 800 litres in the rear compartment (with a repair kit instead of a spare wheel, available as option) expandable to 3,000 after folding the rear seats, in addition to a multitude of compartments scattered a bit everywhere, a further 44 litres available here and there for everyday objects. Furthermore, if the front passenger seat is also reclined, an easy operation thanks to Dacia’s Easy Seat system, or if completely removed with quick and easy movements,  3.11 metres of loading space is thus assured, combined with a total capacity of just a little less than 500 kg and a towing capacity of 1,200 kg. Enough to move a small wardrobe, doors included, or taking the whole family on a summer holiday, including mother-in-law and related luggage. After all, Dokker’s professional versatility is highlighted by two specific versions, Van with 3.3m3capacity, and Pick-Up, with two front seats and a 1.80 metres rear loading platform.

Despite the hard working “attitude”, the Dokker can be just as efficient even in normal daily activities, for example commuting to work or school, or on long trips, thanks to sufficiently comfortable interiors, despite the austere finishes not really pleasant to touch but certainly robust and durable, offering essential standard equipment that, though reduced to the bare essentials can still include, if desired, a GPS system with 7" display (on request or standard on the Stepway range), air conditioning, a multimedia system to manage the stereo system which can be interfaced with your smartphone, ESP stability control, cruise control and rear parking sensors. However, on the Dokker Ambiance only the 4 airbags, the power steering, the ABS system and only one rear right-end sliding door are offered as standard equipment.


It pays to save

We have to go back to last century to find a car without power windows. A real dive into the past, with a pair of old crank handles ready to perform the task of opening the windows, proudly resilient and ready to defy any electronic failure. A touch of nostalgia that will probably be appreciated only by retro lovers, which can be easily remedied by stepping up one trim level to find, even on the Dokker, two comfortable switches, ready to wind up the  window and close the "time gap".

In short, the essential and little else, what is not there cannot break and will not affect the purchase price, with all due respect for car repairers and financial institutions. A well-targeted strategy has, since the word go, allowed Dacia to place a multi-purpose vehicle on the market at the same price of a city car, reducing the level of equipment and finishes without negatively affecting its reliability.Made in North Africa, in the company’s factories in Tangier, the Dokker shares the same platform as the Lodgy minivan and relies on more traditional and tested solutions such as mixed disc and drum braking, independent strut front suspension and a torsion beam at the rear, front anti-roll bar to improve stability, all calibrated to satisfy both those who are unwilling to give up on a spirited driving style, especially if equipped with a 115 hp engine, as well as those who travel fully loaded, which is by no means a remote idea.

At the same time, in order to reduce its industrial costs, the Dokker’s engine range is based on a dated, though well tested unit, with long years of service on previous models of the French group, i.e. a 100 hp 4-cylinder 8-valve 1.6-litre petrol engine, updated to Euro 6 emission standards (at the time of the 2015 launch it was also offered in a 85 hp version now out of production), able to guarantee the same power output in dual-fuel LPG configuration.

Higher up in the range we find a 4-cylinder 16-valve Tce 1.2-litre fuel injection direct injection with double overhead camshaft, able, thanks to its 115 hp, to guarantee a little more verve, 175 km/h maximum speed and acceleration 0-100 in 10.8 seconds. Not exactly a dragster, but then again what is required here is lower costs of exercise, perfectly possible thanks to a 1.5 dCi 90 hp turbocharged diesel unit - for years used on many Renault and Mercedes models - capable of 23.8 km/litre on average and 108 g / km of CO2 emissions, managed by the same five-speed manual transmission that we find also on other models.

No glamour also as far as the tires are concerned with standard dimensions ranging from 185 to 195 mm, shoulder ratios between 70 and 55 and 14, 15 and 16 inch wheels, in steel or alloy according to the trim.